Red Flag Gun Laws – Public Safety or Abuse of the Innocent?

Women in Handcuffs
Red Flag Gun Laws – Public Safety or Abuse of the Innocent?

U.S.A.-( They are called Extreme-Risk Protection Orders. Some people call them Red-Flag Gun Confiscation. Whatever you call it, we’re supposed to call the cops and stop a bad man with a gun before he hurts someone. That sounds more like the script from a cop-drama on TV than what happens in real life. In practice, these laws are designed for abuse. We’ve already seen them fail to stop violent crime. We’ve also seen police kill gun owners during early morning Red Flag raids. At best, innocent individuals have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get their rights restored after they’ve been served with a red-flag order.

Is that the unavoidable price of freedom, or is that the bigoted abuse of a disfavored minority for political gain? These gun confiscation laws were proposed so that politicians could get facetime on the news and could increase their campaign contributions. When you read beyond the press releases, you’ll see that these laws are a tax on gun owners, particularly on poor gun owners. We know that violence is a very tough problem to solve and red-flag gun confiscation isn’t the solution.

We never know enough to be sure: do you know if someone will be violent?

We think we do, but our memory plays tricks on us. We remember the time a local kid was arrested and we said, “I knew he was headed for trouble.” We forget all the times when we find out that one spouse has fled their home, and all we can say is, “I never knew there was a problem.” We like to think we’re right, so we remember our good guesses and forget the times we were wrong, sometimes sadly wrong.

There are real cases where family members or doctors have legitimate concerns that someone is a threat to themselves or to others. We see the pleas from family members in hindsight after there was an act of violence. We’ve also seen examples where an abusive partner called the cops on an innocent spouse or romantic partner. We’d like a law that made it easy for ordinary people to ask the police to disarm someone who will clearly be violent, while at the same time protecting the rights of the accused. Let’s see how well that works in practice.

Doctors and judges see a lot of people. They are highly educated and trained for that job. They have lots of experience in exercising their professional judgment. They should be in an excellent position to tell if one of their patients or clients was going to be violent. Unfortunately, both doctors and judges track record at predicting violence is horrible.

We looked at mass murderers during the last two decades. There is nothing subtle about their mental condition, and almost two-thirds of them had psychiatric counseling. Most had previous contacts with law enforcement as well. In the last twenty years, only one of these individuals was clinically diagnosed and adjudicated as a danger to himself or others. We have a terrible record of predicting violent behavior even when we’re looking at our most violent citizens. Our track record is worse when we look at ordinary people.

Psychiatrists who have access to complete medical records often have to assess if a patient will be violent. They make that assessment for the safety of the patient and for the safety of hospital staff. These doctors make the correct prediction 60% of the time when they are predicting behavior for the next 24 hours. That means they are slightly better than flipping a coin while they are looking a day into the future. Psychiatrists have no idea if the patient will be violent in the next week, the next month, or the next year. These highly educated and dedicated specialists can’t predict the future. That record will get worse as red-flag laws let non-professionals disarm near strangers with a phone call.

Today, we want a court judge to do the impossible with Red Flag laws. Your vindictive relative can make a phone call based on a post in social media. You’ll have your firearms confiscated, at no cost to them, but at the cost of tens-of-thousands of dollars to you, or worse. There’ve already been gun owners killed during midnight police raids instigated by a Red Flag complaint. The dead gun owner had no record of violent or criminal behavior.

Is murder a fatal fault in the gun confiscation process, or is it a feature that anti-gun politicians wrote into the law from the beginning?

Red Flag laws lead to firearms confiscation on the basis of an accusation. Gun owners accused under Red-Flag laws are involved in the legal system before they have any chance to submit facts in front of a judge. That one-sided argument means these laws are designed for abuse.

Domestic abusers use Red-Flag laws to disarm their innocent partners. Does confiscating the tools of self-defense make the abused partner safer or does it leave the innocent partner more vulnerable? Red-flag laws let abusers subjugate their victims in ways the abusers could never accomplish on their own.

A vindictive spouse uses Red-Flag laws as a legal weapon during a divorce and custody fight. Does that really benefit anyone…other than the lawyers? We might want to save lives, but getting the police involved has real risks.

Are those risks justified? People who have their concealed carry permits are the most law-abiding segment of our society. Licensed concealed carry holders are among the most law-abiding group of people on the planet. People with their carry permits are more law-abiding and less violent than the police. Who are we making safer when we disarm the safest group of people we can find? Concealed carry holders are several times less likely than the police to shoot innocent people. Who is at risk when the police knock in the dark of night to confiscate legally owned firearms?

Who is safer when we disarm the safest group of people on the planet?

Of course, there is a real concern to disarm people who have made threats. There is also a real concern with a system that is so easily abused. Even the ACLU said that red flag gun laws need to be revised so they are fair to the accused.

How can we make the system respond to both concerns?

The obvious solution is to go before a judge. Unfortunately, that often means that the side with the most money and lawyers carries the day. Few of us can afford tens of thousands of dollars to defend ourselves against a groundless accusation. Can you hire a lawyer in the next 24 hours and come up with tens of thousands of dollars in order to protect your rights? Is the right of self-defense only for rich men with lawyers?

An abused partner shouldn’t have to give up their firearms, their tools of personal protection, simply because they don’t have enough time and money to protect their rights in court on short notice. We want to do the right thing, but disarming the innocent party puts them at greater risk rather than making us all safer.

The less obvious solution is to have the state pay the legal fees when an innocent person has to defend their rights in court. If public safety were the real concern, then politicians should be eager to pay those legal fees and court costs. We could at least ask the accuser to put up a bond to cover the costs of false accusations. Can the accused deduct his court and lawyer fees from her taxes?

That isn’t what the politicians want. It is easy to demonize honest gun owners when the news is full of criminals committing violence. As I said, licensed gun owners are extremely law-abiding and non-violent. It is easy for bigoted politicians and the media to blame gun owners even though the legal gun owner is innocent.

There is a bias in politician's press releases and in the slanted news. The media and the politicians ignore the fact that firearms are used to save lives far more often than they are used to take them. News stories about violence hold an audience. Stories about violence get politicians in front of TV cameras. The good guy with a gun that stopped a crime from happening isn’t even considered news. The scales are tipped; tragedy becomes front page news while the triumph of a life saved is hardly mentioned.

You can easily test this claim of bias for yourself. You probably remember the names of several mass murderers. You might remember where they killed. You’re unusual if you know the names or actions of the armed citizens who stopped mass murderers. The fact that you know one but not the other is the result of bias.

Saving lives doesn’t fit the story that reporters or politicians want to sell. Red flag gun confiscation laws are more about the bigoted story that guns and gun owners are evil than about saving lives.

About Rob MorseSlow Facts

The original article is here.  Rob Morse writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily, and on his SlowFacts blog. He hosts the Self Defense Gun Stories Podcast and co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast. Rob is an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor.

  • 46 thoughts on “Red Flag Gun Laws – Public Safety or Abuse of the Innocent?

    1. If it is believed that someone is dangerous, then why not change the law to make involuntary commitments easier. Focus on the potentially dangerous person. Get them into a mental health facility, and have them evaluated by a psychiatrist. If someone is about to “go postal”, taking their firearms is still a half measure. What about their kitchen knives? What about their vehicle? They could just make a bomb instead, if they want to kill. I classify “Red flag” or Extreme risk protection orders as “feel good” legislation. It makes the politicians and their followers feel like they have done something to solve the problem, when the reality is that they haven’t even touched the cause of the problem.

    2. The whole deal is a way to take guns away from anyone , anytime,. If you want to know how they will prevent the 3 % from standing up if we ever need them too, this is it ! I’m from small town in WNC and we are experiencing corruption on a scale that I’ve Neve seen before on my time on this Earth, and what this does is give the corruptors a way to punishing and remove the rights of anyone that call them out on their corruption,. It’s high time that decisions like this belong to the people , not the system that stands to profit, this is a blatently against the constitution, and is the epidemy of what deprivation of rts under the color of law, and with that being said the Leo’s that try this will be guilty of a criminal offense under the US code, we just had a model citizen murdered here that hadn’t committed any crime, he was sleeping in bed and his wife heard someone coming through woods, and so he did what most of us would do, and got his shotgun from closet, while walking thru his darkened living room, a flashlight came on from outside his home , and then four shots came his through living room window( before any communication had been established) and then door kicked in and then shot 2 more times when he was already down, there he lay in his own living room with wife and children held at gunpoint to watch him drown in his own blood, this wasn’t a home robbery, this was a Leo that “just wanted to ask him something”, about a road dispute that had happened earlier that day, kids we’re flying in out going fast and endangering his grandchild, this deputy never came up in cruiser with lights on, he came thru woods at midnight and shot” executed” a man in his home that hadn’t committed any crime, family was never interviewed by DA and only testimony heard was the murderer, sheriff immediately backed deputy, who by the way was on the force less than yr, and had numerous complaints of excessive force, and had been hired without passing a phyc test, (he had been denied employment in neighboring counties because he had failed phyc) then the go to DA said justified,victim denied his rt for his case to be heard by jury and everyone that stood up and demanded justice ,felt the wrath of the corrupt officials themselves, now we got bill in legislation for red flag laws, NOT happening , it may get pushed through in dead of night but this is unconstitutional and people need to get off lazy asses and demand the constitution be upheld, and any official trying these acts needs to be behind bars,. The 2nd was written to protect us from these corrupt communist leaning bastards, cause any law abiding citizen could be deemed this and be woken up by gestapo, and looking down the barrel of someone that can kill you and get a paid vacation and commended for killing you! who is the biggest threat in my town ,criminals with a badge, yeah we have drug and theft problems here but most think the gestapo is either dealing or turning blind eye for cash, if we allow this to happen, just know that this country will never be free again and all those that died for these rts, were in vain!! Wake up people and see the real writting on the wall ! It’s decision time in America , reestablish our free republic, or cower down and be the subservient slave, cause we’re at a point in our nation that our decisions now dictate our children and grandchildren freedoms and rts!!!

      1. Red Flag laws are unconstitutional and violate the 2nd, 4th, 6th and 14th Amendments.

        TGWD says “Perps and their weaponry safely placed behind harden iron bars.”

        So now TGWD says law abiding gun owners are now considered PERPS as in:

        a person who carries out a harmful, illegal, or immoral act.

      2. I read your article GWD. You’re saying you support this?
        Let’s see here, in one state they had 300 orders, only half resulted in a seizure of at least 1 year and only 4 involved serious threats at a school. So, 150 private citizens have been rousted out of bed in an armed raid, guns confiscated, lost their God given right to self protection, charged with being a threat to society, faced considerable expense, FOR NO REASON. And this cop calls that a win? I wonder what those 150 people call it? “Gestapo” comes to mind.

        1. Lets assume that 150 perps had their guns confiscated and the threat of many innocent victims being killed or injured have been thwarted. The other 150 gun owners had their weapons briefly confiscated for verbal threats. But after an investigation their guns returned. An Inconvenient Truth! There are no tears from the Green Watch Dog! A dogs eyes don’t tear up!

          1. Quote: “Perps and their weaponry safely placed behind harden iron bars.” Wrong! To be a perp one has to take action, Red Flag Laws are used BEFORE any action is taken. So those affected are not perps. No where in your source does it say anything about anyone being locked up. More to the point even though the police spokesman mentioned that some were at the nexus of serious mental problem, there is absolutely no mention of any medical help being furnished. Contrary to your claim, no where in the article you link to does it state that any of those subjected to the Red Flag law made any threats.

          2. Dude your understanding concerning dogs is on par with your knowledge of firearms which is abysmal.
            Dog Eye Tearing
            Excessive eye tearing in dogs, also called epiphora, is the result of an overflow of tears from the dog’s eyes. In certain breeds of dogs (e.g. poodles, spaniels, maltase’s, pugs, etc.), eye tearing is a natural condition. The bronze staining of the hairs around the dog’s eyes is due to a compound in the tears called porphyrin.

    3. I’m not trying to preach at anyone on here, but I’m sure there are other mature Christians that can relate to what I’m saying… Please don’t take offense.. none is intended 🙂
      One thing in common, I have noticed in all of these mass killings, is the spiritual factor.

      As a mature Christian, with some experience in trials and tribulations, I see how Satan takes aim at us with the bits and pieces of our past.. He uses people with particular names, and ages, the time, the names: of places, buildings, Cities, States, public servants in the aftermath, reporters, etc.. He uses all these against what we hope and pray for.. what we stand for..

      Don’t be deceived, these are spiritual attacks by the devil to bring down a group of people who see, and know the truth; of our rights to be free and independent!

    4. This is the PROGRESSIVE way of doing things. Accuse and punish then have a court appearance. that is exactly bass ackwards of any fair way of doing things. That is making a judge both the judge and jury and we know how capable some of them are at doing anything. Come back to center and start there or maybe those charged with taking care of these things could do their job, think Parkland schools.

    5. Once they passed this asininity in Florida the two MOST left wing Liberal sheriffs had confiscated OVER 490 firearms from innocent people.
      These laws violate NUMEROUS of the First Ten Amendments called the bill of RIGHTS.
      The Supreme Court needs to step in and declare each and everyone of them in any way, shape, fashion or wording UNCONSTITUTIONAL>

      1. The shooter at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas was on the radar of law enforcement for some time. They had enough to arrest and hold him for evaluation at the time, before they passed their red flag laws. The reasons they did not handle that POS was because of political correctness. Hell, if they wont enforce laws already on the books, they may or may not enforce the new ones. Sure bet they will be selectively enforced. Cops have an issue with someone or some group, be it a racial minority, or just gun owners in general, they will enforce/abuse it. If they get burned enforcing the red flag laws, then they wont enforce them. Then there is a mass shooting and politicians scream for more laws. People do bad things, which other people cannot predict. Wrong doers and law breakers should be held accountable as individuals. We should not be enforcing mass punishment on the population as a whole. We should have the least amount of laws with the maximum punishment for the law breakers.

    6. the red flag laws are just the start,they’re trying to make it mandatory for doctors to ask if you own any guns,if you get mad or refuse to answer the doctor can start a red flag on you,i can see this is just a back door move to start disarming us,be very careful what you say and who you say it to.

      1. @Alex … As I suggested the other day that would be one place to start . Red Flag laws on doctors , just start in the local listings . Put all doctors in jeopardy of the consequences of their questions .

    7. Draconian! This is how the anti-gun elements seek to disarm us, one citizen at a time, using unwitting accomplices like this. So, what do we do about it, besides discuss it over and over?

      1. Same thing we always do, call, email, mail, and meet with you’re Congressmen and Senators.

        In a call and professional manner explain to them that this is a violation of multiple rights, they violate rights protected by the second amendment, fourth amendment, fifth amendment, and sixth amendment, that a person has already died because of this law, and it will cause more deaths.

        If your the people you are talking to are Democrat ask them if they believe cops disproportionately shoot minorities, and how does giving them power to go into their houses help that situation.

        Join your state gun rights groups and if they have a rally attend it. If they don’t start one and try to get as many people as you can.

        If we make our presence felt they will respond, this is how the left has found success this is how we have found success in the past, relying on the NRA, GOA, FPC or any other group is silly, while they hold power and are helpful in the end it comes down to you.

        If this fails vote people out, no more voting for republicans just because they have an R next to them, vote in the primaries and try and get them primaried, if you can’t vote for someone else and let the party know why you did not vote for them. Without consequence they will continue to do the same thing.

    8. An ERPO is an admission that someone is mentally ill and that we are going inflame the situation by illegally taking their belongings without due process. Years ago we used to have a law that gave police the right to subject someone to a 3 day mental health evaluation, but the police abused it, and Ronald Reagan took it away. We need it back, but this time, every police department should have an on-call panel of three psychiatrists, and the person suspected of being mentally ill by the police should be brought to it for them to make the evaluation.

    9. Let’s be honest and put the rubber to the road. If your lifelong friend or good neighbor got hit with a red flag order or some bizarre accusation of being unstable according to some wronged individual, how many of you would offer to help legally. The majority of readers here would jump on the bash wagon just to verify your own worthiness. I’m sickened at the lack of fortitude in today’s men, and women, firearm rights are becoming the privilege of the elite wealthy, which is exactly what many want. I have been blessed greatly in my life, but many folks who I think are better people than myself, have struggled. When poor freemen can’t defend themselves legally, we are all soon to be sold to the highest bidder. Hence, we will then be slaves.

    10. Have to share a situation I helped to resolve. Picked up an acquaintance after he just got out of jail that morning. He told me that he was going to get his gun and resolve injustice for someone putting him in jail for the 1st place. After he got out of the car, I 911 to law enforcement about the situation. Later that week heard from his sister that he was back in the hokey with black and white stripes to wear once more. Great memory to this day!

      1. I hear you!!!! Slurp, slurp, gag, gag, slurp, slurp, lick, gag! That beatch over there just can not keep his head from between his knees.

        Q: What sit in a corner and is red, mangy and slightly furry?
        A: A watch dog!

        Q: What sits in a corner and is red, green, mangy and slightly furry?
        A: A green watch (brain dead) dog!

          1. Will Bill and Nottinghill,
            I don’t look ignore others in need as you do. That is “cower down, and keep on driving away”. I will go out of my way to protect anyone that may one day help. The GWD.

            1. @Tcat, The GRF can’t even get the terminology right. It is hull down. Dime dropping Green Buddy Fcker.

            2. @Wild Bill: Nope! I do think the fink is the type to stab you back.
              He’s definitely and admittedly more of the ‘Backstabbing Buddy [email protected]’ type. I love it! The Green Rat Fink!!!!!!!!!!!! I am rotflmao!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

              Sorry guys,
              I forgot to add in my rush to humor that he likes chewing razorblades by gillette. Hence his green color the day after.

            3. I was not a friend of his, I hung out with his sister and her friends. Regardless, friendships, next door neighbors, buddies, etc. quickly evaporate away when they act stupid. I sleep better. Good night!

    11. There are soooooooo many laws on the books that clearly violate our Constitution/Bill of Rights and these “Red Flag” laws is just another method of confiscating our guns.

    12. These laws fly in the face of our judicial system of innocence until proven guilty. Regardless of the safeguards recommended by commenters above, the accused will be subjected to a lengthy and expensive legal battle based on that accusation while the accuser can claim they thought it was true. And I’m sure that LEOs will be exempted from prosecution should they fail to prove their assertion that the subject is a danger.

    13. One thing no one talks about is the almost-guaranteed retaliation of the accused against the accuser in such a situation. Say a neighbor calls the police for a red flag on someone in the neighborhood – shit goes down and now the accuser is wide open for just about anything to happen and of course the police aren’t going to protect them or anything else. Essentially a death wish.

    14. I oppose most of the red flag laws or ERPO laws on the books – but i do believe that they can be written so as to avoid abuse:

      1) Who can apply for an order? Only close relatives or law enforcement should be able to apply.
      2) Standards should be as objective as possible.
      3) There should be mandatory jail time for anyone who lies to obtain an order.
      4) Due process must be preserved. A hearing at which the subject can present their case must be automatically scheduled within two weeks.

      California initial law was in effect in 2016. In that year only 90 orders were issued state wide. With the exception of the penalty for abuse, all of the above were part of the law. 90% of those 90 orders were reversed at the 2nd hearing when the subject could present their case. I highly doubt that so many people could afford an attorney, so it is clear that the courts are willing to listen to a defense presented by a layman. The bad news is that 90% of these orders were not justified. This shows that any such law needs to make sure that those who lie to get an order cannot be given a pass.

      Details matter. Most of these laws do not adhere to the above safeguards or NRA recommendations.

      1. Can you be jailed for murder on a court order with the trial scheduled two weeks later? The whole concept of red flag laws is to subvert due process.

        Is the dangerous person whose guns have been taken away now not dangerous anymore? The whole concept of red flag laws is that the tool is the problem not the person.

        The NRA’s “safeguards” are just trying to rationalize the inevitable. We have been, once again, thrown under the bus and sold out by the NRA, President Trump and Congressional Republicans. A federal bribe bill on red flag laws will be enacted by this Congress, leading to unconstitutional gun confiscations and gun owners getting killed in the process nation wide.

        1. Gary Willis , 60 , was murdered by Anne Arundel , Maryland police at 5 am based on a hearsay complaint of a relative… he had done NO crime, but the judge wanted to ” play it safe ” and so granted the confiscation order …. all done in secret !

          ( In the long run this is about punishing people for ” Wrong Think ” , wanting Freedom and rejecting the socialist ‘ collective ‘ will get everyone branded ” Mentally Unfit “

      2. These, boiled down, have no place in our society under any conditions or rewrites. If you’re so dangerous that you shouldn’t be in the possession of firearms then you’re also too dangerous to be in possession of knives, forks and any other object. In short you shouldn’t be on the street, you should be ADJUDICATED, by a court, as mentally unstable and committed

      3. Quote: “3) There should be mandatory jail time for anyone who lies to obtain an order.” The mandatory jail time should apply for any false order rather the result of lying or not.

    15. In Seattle there was a Gun Crime Task Force formed long ago…How long do you think it took them to utilize it to confiscate arms under there orders? It was in the paper so it must be true.

      Here’s the rub; everything goes under gag order so we don’t really know how many have been served already. This is spooky, Unconstitutional, NAZI crap. Needs to end Post Haste!

    16. An egregious offense to everyone’s rights, that will result in the deaths of people.

      I’m curious how the left can justify this, if they really believe that cops are out there shooting minorities on the streets, why on earth would they propose legislation that will result in them getting shot in their homes?

      This could very well be the worst legislation for minorities since Clintons super predator legislation.

      But don’t worry the NRA backed version will have poison pills, because you know you can totally go to court and convince people that the reason your family member was shot by police was because the person who called them in had a grudge and didn’t actually believe they posed a threat. Super easy to prove someone’s feelings about someone else. Well provided that you find out who called them in.

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