As a civilized society, we use laws to govern and protect ourselves for the greater good of our communities. We establish a set of guidelines that the collective body agrees upon, either through democratic process or just common sense, and we allow these laws to guide us in our decision making and establish a line in the sand that determines right and wrong. Within the firearms community, there is always a balance of establishing laws for the greater good of our community, while working to ensure that those laws do not infringe on the rights of the majority. I believe that everyone, regardless of which side of the fence you fall on with the gun debate, believes that no one that has been adjudicated by a court of law to be mentally unfit, or those that have been convicted of violent crime, should be allowed to own a firearm. We have other laws in place which determine that a person needs to be considered an adult in the eyes of society before they can legally purchase a long gun, and even some laws in some states that govern how you can store firearms or transport them from state to state. While not everyone may agree with them, I believe we are collectively ok with them. But what happens when states begin to enact laws that overstep their authority and potentially violate the rights of the individual without any due diligence?
There has been a growing number of states that have enacted new laws in the wake of some shootings that are doing just that, and these laws can have far reaching implications both in current times as well as in the future. The biggest area where this is true are in the new “Red Flag Laws” being instituted in some states.
Red Flag Laws were created on the auspices of trying to help people in immediate emotional distress by allowing local law enforcement to remove firearms from a home for a short duration in order to allow that person to get through their struggles and hopefully return to normal, upon which time those confiscated firearms would be returned to them. While conceptually this sounds like a “good Samaritan” intervention, the reality is that the law does not limit who can make these requests for confiscation, allows for confiscation of said firearms (violation of the 4th Amendment protecting against unlawful search and seizure) and in some cases, the courts are able to prolong the period it pertains to without due process (violation of the 14th Amendment).
Overreach and abuse
The way these laws are written, and the ways in which they can be executed should concern everyone. We live in a country where we are perceived to be innocent until proven guilty. We have a judicial process that allows a court to determine someone’s mental stability after a series of tests and evaluations. In some states they at least require a judge to look at the merits of the case and essentially sign a warrant authorizing the removal of firearms for a period of time, usually 72 hours. In states like California however, they have pushed the decision-making power down to the Law Enforcement level, and that creates some serious concerns for overreach and abuse.
Red flag laws put judge and jury at the law enforcement level
We can imagine a scenario where a former spouse, friend or coworker decides upon themselves that someone that they know should (In their opinion) no longer have access to firearms. This initiates a visit from the local law enforcement agencies who then make the determination, most likely to err on the side of caution, to remove the firearms from the home. A judge then looks at the case and can arbitrarily determine that the allocated 72-hour window is not enough time to decide and so that duration is extended for an undetermined amount of time while the process “works” itself out. Getting the firearms back in some states is nothing more than letting the time limit elapse, but in other states it can require a somewhat lengthy and costly legal process, creating an unfair and unreasonable burden against the person to get their property returned.
Every responsible gun owner wants the world to be a safer place…
…that is why we own firearms and train to use them to protect ourselves and our family. No one wants to see continued senseless violence in any way, but we are also traveling down a slippery slope where people without the ability to make informed medical or psychological based evaluations are now being given the power to do just that. Today it is firearms, but tomorrow it could bleed over into many other areas of our lives and that should make people very concerned.
Stop Red Flag Laws
Moving forward, we have an obligation to continue to work towards peaceful resolutions that help reduce unnecessary violence and erode at our 2nd Amendment rights, but we also have an obligation to educate people on why these ref flag laws are not only unconstitutional, but also open doors that can be very detrimental for all citizens down the road. If you live in a state where these laws have not been enacted yet, remain vigilant and let your representatives know how you feel about these laws every chance you get. If you live in a state that has a red flag low, I encourage you to partner with some of the amazing 2A lobby groups and help your voice be heard through support and advocation through these organizations or on your own. Your voice matters and you must make sure that it is being heard.
If you live in New York, Maryland, Florida, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia or Washington DC get your firearms protected with 2A Shield.
By Jason Kostal
Jason is an Army Veteran and freelance writer for Athlon Outdoors and GetZone, a firearms training and industry consultant. For more information or content on exotic boutique firearms follow him on Instagram or Facebook as well as visit his website at legacyarmsintl.com