Red Flag Laws Are Far from Harmless

When President Donald Trump presented on August 5 a collection of proposals for government actions to counter mass shootings, advancing red flag laws was part of the package. Briefly describing such laws that operate in several states, Trump said, “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.” That description — taking guns only from people who “pose a grave risk to public safety” and only after a judgment has been made in accordance with due process — would make red flag laws sound to many people like a rather harmless means to protect the public from extreme harm. However, the truth is very different.

Donald Kilmer, a lawyer who has worked on cases where people were targeted with California red flag laws, described in a Saturday Washington Examiner editorial the terrible ordeal that an individual subjected to red flag laws, and people who live with that individual, can be forced to undergo. The ordeal starts with a judge deciding to order that an individual immediately cannot legally possess any guns, based entirely on arguments presented by those seeking to deprive the individual of his guns. This imposes immediate risks and costs on the individual, as well as people who live with him. They can be subject to punishment and must quickly arrange the moving of their guns elsewhere. Next up, the individual can argue in a hearing and, if unsuccessful at the hearing, in an appeal that his ability to legally possess guns should be restored. This, explains Kilmer can cost tens of thousands of dollars. All the while, the individual is denied his ability to legally possess guns.

And the prospects of success at a hearing may not be so great. Writes Kilmer:

To win these hearings, you have to refute an allegation that you pose a danger to yourself or others where a judge already issued a temporary ex parte order that concluded you were already a danger. Many judges will likely err on the side of caution, and against your rights.

 To boot, suggests Kilmer, California’s red flag laws would not have prevented any recent mass shootings.

Read Kilmer’s editorial here.

Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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