If This Is The Best Argument for Red Flag Laws, Stop Passing Them

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

Red flag laws pop up in a number of states and even some otherwise pro-gun folks seem to favor them. The basic idea, taking guns from people who represent a danger, sounds attractive on the surface. After all, if someone talks like there will be a mass shooting and you act, you can stop the mass shooting.


That's just a surface-level examination, though. It ignores countless issues with it, up to and including due process for the person who gets red flagged.

And what's worse is how often we see arguments like this one from a judge in Michigan.

Marquette County Chief Probate and Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Hill provided an example.

“Some people with mental illness, they become paranoid, and it’s not their fault. It is the illness,” Judge Hill explained. “But, to protect themselves or they think someone is after them, they might be carrying a gun. Then maybe they have brandished a gun or pointed it at someone or said to someone, ‘I’m going to kill you.’ I think that’s the type of situation we are talking about.”

Hill says that if a court deems it necessary, that person will be served a court order, which will become effective immediately.

Those who receive an Extreme Risk Protection Order may have to surrender their firearms within 24 hours, depending on the determined risk. The person will also have to surrender their Concealed Pistol License (CPL) and any licenses to purchase.

So I hear what Hill is saying, but all of those things he's brought up are crimes. If someone brandishes a gun or points it at someone or threatens to murder them, then they should be arrested and charged.

If it turns out this is about a mental health issue versus something else, then every state in the nation has some version of the 72-hour hold, where someone at risk can be admitted against their will can be held in a mental health facility for treatment. Not only would they be removed from guns or literally any other weapon, but they could get treatment that they won't get under a red flag order.


The argument that we somehow need red flag laws ignores the existing measures and ignores that even if you take guns from people, they can still hurt others. The violent don't need guns to kill. They'll find a way.

Oklahoma City, for example, didn't require a single firearm.

I'm amazed at how often people who should know better justify red flag laws by citing actions that are criminal offenses in and of themselves. Why not just enforce the laws that are already on the books? Why not use the tools that are already available that don't act like guns are the only viable way to hurt someone.

This is a terrible argument, to say the least, and for a judge to make it is mindboggling.

Unfortunately, it's not like the media will challenge such people. So, Michigan will be stuck with this law for the foreseeable future and there will be little political will to remove it, all because of idiotic arguments that ignore basic, understandable facts about various crimes.

Because people don't kill people. Only guns can do that.

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