Ferndale, Maryland –-(Ammoland.com)- At 5:17 AM on Monday, November 5th, 2018 an Anne Arundel County, Maryland man was shot and killed in his home by police as they tried to carry out a “Red Flag Gun Confiscation Order.”
Red flag laws give the police the right to confiscate firearms from a person without due process through something called an extreme risk protection order. All it takes for a judge to issue an extreme risk protection order is one person stating that the subject is a danger to themselves or others.
With extreme risk protection orders, authorities do not give the accused a chance to rebuke the charges before a judge issues the order to take the accused person’s firearms.
The first red flag law was passed in Connecticut 1999 but did not spread until recently. In fact, before this year only five states had red flag laws. Before 2014, only 2 states had the laws on the books. Now 13 states have red flag laws.
One of the big pushes for red flag laws in Connecticut was the number of people committing suicide. Connecticut claimed that these laws significantly reduced gun-related suicides, but a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study showed these red flag laws only prevented 1.6% of gun-related suicides in Connecticut. The CDC study also showed that some of these people went on to commit suicide by other means.
While we do not yet have data on how often these orders are approved, we can look at search warrants issued to police to get a feel on what the approval rates will be for these orders.
According to the Libertas Institute, the courts approve 98% of all search warrants. Most shocking is that in their research of warrants in Utah they found the courts approved 60% of these orders in less than three minutes. Since the burden of proof for a search warrant is much higher than a single person's statement, we can deduce that the courts will issue extreme risk protection orders at the same or a higher rate than that of search warrants.
The red flag law is a relatively new law in the state of Maryland. Governor Larry Hogan signed the bill (HB 1302) into law in May of this year, and the law went into effect on the first of last month.
In a little over a month of going into effect, tragedy struck as police arrived at the door of Gary Willis just before dawn to serve the extreme risk protection order and seize the 60-year-old's guns.
According to police, Gary Willis opened the door with a pistol in his hand. He initially put the gun down, but picked it back up and then “became irate” at law enforcement when they tried to serve him the order. A struggle began for the gun between Willis and one of the officers at the scene.
According to Anne Arundel County Police spokeswoman, Sgt. Jacklyn Davis, a second officer at the home of Willis, shot and killed the Ferndale man. None of the officers trying to serve the order were hurt.
Michele Willis is the niece of Gary Willis. She described her uncle as a person that likes to speak his mind but was harmless. She stated that her uncle wasn't a danger to anyone and questioned the police response.
Gun Owners of America has been a vocal critic of so-called red flag laws because of the denial of due process. They view these laws as unjust gun confiscation orders.
“We don’t yet know all of the facts in this case, so we will be watching this story very closely,” said Gun Owners of America Executive Director Erich Pratt. “But in general, GOA opposes red flag laws because they throw out Due Process. That is, they order the confiscation of firearms without a conviction of wrongdoing for any crime.”
Pratt is not alone in not knowing all the facts in the case. In fact, the Maryland Judiciary has denied all requests to see any protection orders dealing with Willis. Although Willis's niece, Michele Willis, said her aunt took out the order on Willis. She said it was just “family being family.”
Police are also being tight-lipped about the cause for the order to be taken out on Willis due to being legally restrained to the amount of information that can be released to the public because of the law dealing with extreme risk protection orders.
All information in an extreme risk protection order is automatically marked confidential and cannot be released. It takes a court order to unseal the documents. Gun rights advocates along with civil liberty activists have long complained that is easier to get an extreme risk protection order than to find out the reason for the for the order.
Overall there have been 114 petitions in Maryland during October. Anne Arundel County accounted for 19 of these petitions.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%'ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on leftist deplatforming methods and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, on Facebook at realjohncrump, or at www.crumpy.com.