7 Reasons You Need to Stand Against Red Flag Guns Laws
7 Reasons You Need to Stand Against Red Flag Guns Laws from The Free Thought Project
President Trump has signaled his backing of bipartisan Senate legislation that will federalize red flag gun laws, this is why you need to oppose them.
The Associated Press reports Congress is seriously considering red flag gun laws.
These laws, also called “extreme risk protection orders,” allow courts to issue orders allowing law enforcement to seize firearms from people who’ve committed no crime but are believed to be a danger to themselves or others.
President Trump has signaled his backing of bipartisan Senate legislation sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.
“We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms and that if they do those firearms can be taken through rapid due process,” Trump said in a White House speech.
Here are seven reasons red flag laws should be opposed, particularly at the federal level.
1. There’s No Evidence Red Flag Laws Reduce Gun Violence
Most people haven’t heard of red flag laws until recently—if they have at all—but they aren’t new.
Connecticut enacted the nation’s first red flag law in 1999, followed by Indiana (2005). This means social scientists have had decades to analyze the effectiveness of these laws. And what did they find?
“The evidence,” The New York Times recently reported, “for whether extreme risk protection orders work to prevent gun violence is inconclusive, according to a study by the RAND Corporation on the effectiveness of gun safety measures.”
The Washington Post reports that California’s red flag went basically unused for two years after its passage in 2016. Washington, D.C.’s law has gone entirely unused. Other states, such as Florida and Maryland, have gone the other direction, seizing hundreds of firearms from gun-owners. Yet it’s unclear if these actions stopped a shooting.
With additional states passing red flag laws, researchers will soon have much more data to analyze. But before passing expansive federal legislation that infringes on civil liberties, lawmakers should have clear and compelling empirical evidence that red flag laws actually do what they are intended to do.
2. Congress Lacks the Authority
The Founding Fathers clearly enumerated the powers of the federal government in the Constitution. Among the powers granted in Article I, Section 8 are “the power to coin money, to regulate commerce, to declare war, to raise and maintain armed forces, and to establish a Post Office.”
Regulating firearms is not among the powers listed in the Constitution (though this has not always stopped lawmakers from regulating them). In fact, the document expressly forbids the federal government from doing so, stating in the Second Amendment that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
3. We Have Federalism
Unlike the federal government, whose powers, James Madison noted, are “few and defined,” states possess powers that “are numerous and indefinite.”
Indeed, 17 states and the District of Columbia already have red flag laws, and many more states are in the process of adding them. This shows that the people and their representatives are fully capable of passing such laws if they choose. If red flag laws are deemed desirable, this is the appropriate place to pursue such laws, assuming they pass constitutional muster. But do they?
4. Red Flag Laws Violate Due Process
The Constitution mandates that no one shall be “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”