Encourage Every State To Enact “Red Flag” Laws: Left’s 4 Part Strategy to Destroy 2A

H/T AmmoLand.

I have said time and time again these Dangerous Red Flag Laws are an end-run around the Second Amendment to eventually destroy it.

 

Opinion
Radical and Progressive Left’s four-prong strategy for destroying the Second Amendment if Democrats take control of both houses of Congress and the u.S. Presidency. Part Two.

Red Flag Gun Grab Laws
Encourage Every State To Enact “Red Flag” Laws: Left’s 4 Part Strategy to Destroy 2A

New York – -(AmmoLand.com)- Deadly Red-Flag laws. This restrictive gun policy objective entails expanding the list of individuals who are not permitted to own or possess firearms.

New Progressive Left Democratic Party candidates for U.S. President—namely, the front runners—all support across the board State enactment of so-called “Red Flag” laws.

Several States have already enacted such laws, and all of them either directly infringe the Second Amendment or otherwise come dangerously close to doing so and certainly impinge upon one’s exercise of the Second Amendment right of the people to keep and bear arms. Although the text of these laws as they presently exist in those jurisdictions that presently have them, or that are otherwise in the process of enacting Red Flag laws or considering enacting Red Flag laws, do vary from State to State.

But, all of these Red Flag laws have one defining characteristic: they all operate ex parte. What does that mean? It means that Courts conduct hearings where only one party to the action is present at the hearing, namely the party who is attempting to obtain a Court order against another party who is not initially present at the Court hearing to defend his interests.

The interest at stake here is retention of one’s personal property, namely, one’s firearms. In an ex parte hearing, under Red Flag laws, one party, or side, at the hearing seeks a Court order requiring the other party, who isn’t present at the hearing, an American citizen who has committed no crime but whom the accuser is claiming is nonetheless dangerous because that person has firearms in his or her possession,. to surrender those firearms to Governmental authority. Thus, the accuser is seeking the removal of that person’s personal property, that person’s firearms— prior to the affected party’s ability to present a case in his or her defense, who would obviously wish to keep his personal property but cannot do so because the affected party has no opportunity to confront the accuser until some point subsequent to the actual removal of the person’s personality, their firearms, assuming the Court issues an order requiring the surrendering of weapons to Governmental authority. It is only after the fact, the removal of the firearms–the personal property–takes place, that a hearing is conducted where both sides are present and the party, against whom the action was taken, attempts to make a case for restoration of his personal property. All of these “Red Flag” laws, play on some variation of this theme and all of them impinge upon or are in danger of impinging upon the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. So, all of these “Red Flag” laws are Constitutionally suspect and they all should be scrutinized before enactment to see if they pass Constitutional muster. But, that never happens.

The question is do we really need these laws to protect society from the possibility of danger. And that notion of ‘possibility’ is a red herring.

We would ask: How “possible” is that possibility of danger, and how do we know that a person, whomever it is that may target a person’s firearms, is doing so with an honest motive. And even if the accuser has an ostensibly honest motive for bringing action against a gun owner, forcing a person to forsake his personal property by Court order, under a State’s “Red Flag” law, the machinery of justice is, for all that, moving against a person who has committed no crime. The Court is faced with the dubious task of rendering an adverse decision against a person without having actually met with the person and therefore has no opportunity to conduct and to preside over an adversarial proceeding to which all American citizens are entitled. Ex parte proceedings are, not surprisingly, frowned on in the law, as they are by nature, contrary to our Nation’s sacred jurisprudential principles.

Generally, a fully adversarial proceeding can, and should be, conducted. Likely, we would see that the person who is making a claim against individual without having to confront that person in open Court, would think twice about the danger presented, if a fully adversarial hearing were conducted. But, suppose the danger is imminent or appears to be truly imminent. In that event, every State has mechanisms by which a person can request a Court to order a personal protection order against that person who is deemed a threat. That too is handled ex parte, and a Court if convinced that a threat is imminent could certainly issue an ex parte order requiring of the person who is deemed a threat, to relinquish his or her firearms if they have any. Thus, Red Flag laws don’t do anything that personal protection orders don’t already accomplish except that they make it easier for more people to make spurious, specious claims against people, often for ulterior motives, and yet avoid having to face the consequences for making those false claims. Red Flag laws do not generally, if not invariably, provide a mechanism through which a person wrongly targeted can bring action against his or her accuser.

Red Flag Laws Are Dangerousto Our Liberty
Red Flag Laws Are Dangerous to Our Liberty

Secondly, under federal law, 18 U.S.C § 922(g) and (n), individuals, including those convicted of felonies and those who had been institutionalized for mental illness, are not permitted to own or possess firearms, unless they have obtained a certificate of relief from their disability. Red Flag laws operate as a backdoor for expanding the domain of individuals not permitted to own or possess a firearm. Since antigun proponents denounce out-of-hand the right of the people to keep and bear arms, it should not come as a surprise that they would look for seemingly plausible ways to expand the domain of people considered unfit to own and possess firearms beyond those categories that already exist in federal law, claiming as they always do, that what motivates them is the desire to protect society though that is patently untrue. What really motivates these people is a desire to reduce the Second Amendment to a nullity, under the pretext that they give a damn about the life, safety, and well-being of others.

But they don’t because they don’t recognize that a person has a right of self-defense and don’t care that a firearm is the best means by which a person can effectively defend themselves against attack; Since they place their faith in the Government to control the masses, and don’t trust the citizenry, their entire view of man and man’s relationship to Government, and to each other, is the obverse of that of the founders of our Nation.

The Second Amendment isn’t consistent with the tenets of Collectivism.

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Sheriff Who Says He’ll Enforce, “Red Flag” Law Now Facing Recall Effort

H/T Bearing Arms.

Hopefully, Sheriff Mike Allen will soon become a former Sheriff.

Humboldt County, Nevada Sheriff Mike Allen says he he opposes the state’s new “red flag” law allowing family members to petition a court to have someone’s firearms taken from them if a judge determines they’re a threat to themselves or others.  Sheriff Allen says, however, that he’ll be enforcing the law when it takes effect in January 2020. Now, a group of Second Amendment-supporting residents in Humboldt County say they’re launching a campaign to recall the sheriff because he’s not standing up for their rights.

“They’re taking up a fight against me on something the Legislature has to do, and they think I have the authority not to follow the law,” Allen said in an interview Wednesday with The Nevada Independent. “I do oppose this law. However, it’s my not my job to oppose a law; my job is to enforce the law.”

Commissions in Humboldt County approved a resolution earlier this month declaring the rural northern Nevada a “Second Amendment Supporting County“, but the language is more vague than what we’ve seen from other counties, where commissioners have actually directed that no public funds will be spent to enforce laws that infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.

Dawn Principe, who owns a gun store in Humboldt County, is helping to lead the recall efforts, which have 90 days to gather a little more than 500 signatures in the county of 16,000 people.

As they collect signatures, Principe says the Humboldt recall group members have been working with Stand Up Nevada, which plans to file to recall Gov. Steve Sisolak for his support of the new gun legislation. The group also is working with Nevadans Citizen Action Network, which is raising money to get an injunction to stop AB291— the bill that includes the red flag provisions and bans accessories such as high-capacity magazines and bump stocks.

Sheriff Allen, meanwhile, says he’s not sure what he can do to address the concerns of residents, because he’s bound to uphold the laws in the state.

“They’re taking up a fight against me on something the Legislature has to do, and they think I have the authority not to follow the law,” Allen said in an interview Wednesday with The Nevada Independent. “I do oppose this law. However, it’s my not my job to oppose a law; my job is to enforce the law.”

Sheriff Allen is right, but he’s also ignoring the fact that law enforcement has a great deal of discretion when it comes to enforcement. In southern Nevada, for example, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo has said his office won’t arrest people who sell small amounts of cannabis, even if they’re unlicensed. Of course, choosing not to enforce a law is a little different than not enforcing a court order. Still, there are other sheriffs around the country, including Weld County, Colorado Sheriff Steve Reams, who say they won’t enforce any “red flag” orders, even if it means facing charges themselves.

If I were Sheriff Allen I’d be working with other sheriffs around the state, as well as my county commissioners, to ready a legal challenge to Nevada’s “red flag” law once it takes effect. In the meantime, I’d use the existing language of the red flag law to not enforce any search warrants empowering deputies to enter homes and seize firearms. Under the terms of the new law, officers tasked with serving a search warrant and seizing firearms do not have to try to seize the firearms if “the health or safety of the officer or the adverse party is put at risk because of any action of the adverse party, the law enforcement officer is under no duty to continue to attempt to execute the search warrant and the execution of the warrant shall be deemed unsuccessful.” I’d argue that any attempt to seize someone’s firearms through a “red flag” court order puts the health or safety of officers at risk, and the Sheriff’s office won’t be a party to them.

It sounds to me like the residents in Humboldt County who are leading the recall efforts want to hear their sheriff talk about how he’s going to fight the law he says opposes, not how he’s going to enforce it. Hopefully we’ll see a united front on the part of several sheriffs and the other “Second Amendment sanctuary” counties to challenge the red flag law in court, but in the meantime these sheriffs should expect to face judgment of their own in the court of public opinion.

Gun Control Group Pushing “Red Flag” Laws To Disarm Veterans

H/T Bearing Arms.

How many veterans will these Dangerous Red Flag Laws end up killing?

Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety is out with a new report urging the use of “red flag” laws to deprive veterans of their guns in hopes of reducing suicide, but their gun control solution to a mental health problem is getting pushback from many in the military.

We’ve talked extensively about the problems with flag laws here at Bearing Arms, but forget the due process concerns for a moment. Who really believes that the best way to help a suicidal veteran is to take their guns away and then leave them alone? “Red flag” laws are a gun control measure masquerading as a mental health proposal, which is why Everytown is pushing it so hard.

The problem of veteran suicides by firearm drew Everytown’s attention because of the statistics; the Department of Veterans Affairs reported last month that firearms were used in 69% of all veteran suicides in 2017, the latest year data is available. That’s a nearly 33% increase from 2005.

Everytown’s first recommendation is for more states to enact extreme risk protection orders, also known as “red-flag” laws, which allow police or family members to temporarily remove someone’s firearms if a state court agrees the person presents a danger to themselves or others. The idea is to place barriers between veterans in crisis and their firearms.

Suicides are a huge problem in the veteran community, but red flag laws aren’t the answer. Everytown for Gun Safety, for instance, says that since Connecticut instituted its red flag law in 1999, firearm-related suicides have declined by almost 14%. That sounds great until you realize that the state’s overall suicide rate has increased by nearly 20% during the same time period, a fact that Everytown didn’t bother to include in their report for some reason. They may be interested in reducing suicide by firearm, but most everyone else is interested in reducing suicide, no matter the means.

As it turns out, there are lots of folks in the military who aren’t on board with the idea of using red flag laws to disarm veterans. Even Mike Washington, a veteran and member of Everytown for Gun Safety’s veterans advisory council acknowledges that there’s a huge amount of resistance among military members.

Washington, who said he was “very fortunate” to not have a gun in his house when he was suicidal, ran the suggestion for red flag laws past a group of Marine Corps veterans. They immediately bristled.

“There’s a lot of pushback,” Washington said. “There’s this fear that the cops are going to be the ones to do this. That fear of infringement on the Second Amendment, it’s a big fear. That’s huge.”

They’re right to be concerned, and they should be pushing back. As it is, there are many veterans who worry that a diagnosis of PTSD or depression will lead to the loss of their Second Amendment rights, and targeting veterans with red flag firearm laws will only make veterans even less likely to reach out and talk to others if they’re struggling. It will stigmatize these veterans, without actually getting them the help that they need, especially if Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group gets its way and enlists the VA to help flag veterans.

Everytown wants the VA to take a more active role. Without interfering with patient confidentiality, the group wants the VA to work with law enforcement and veterans’ families to petition the court for extreme risk protection orders.

“Taking action is part of their mandate,” Burd-Sharp said.

However, there’s been pushback about the VA’s involvement with law enforcement on the issue. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., introduced a bill this summer that would stop the VA from reporting veterans to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System – the national database that gun merchants are required to check before selling a firearm.

The VA considers veterans who cannot manage their VA benefits and need another person to help with their finances as “mentally incompetent.” The agency reports the names of those veterans to the FBI.

The Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act would force the VA to cease that practice.

“This bill would ensure that the veterans who fought for our rights are guaranteed their own,” Roe said in a statement.

Roe’s bill is a good start, but it’s going to have an uphill fight in the Democrat-controlled House. In the meantime, Congress has stalled on any gun measures while impeachment takes center stage, but expect a push for “red flag” laws in state legislatures across the country when the 2020 sessions start to kick off in early January.

 

Speaking With Sheriff Chris Brown About His Refusal To Enforce Red Flag Law

H/T AmmoLand.

Thank you, Sheriff Chris Brown, for refusing to enforce Dangerous Red Flag Laws.

Speaking With Sheriff Chris Brown About His Refusal To Enforce Red Flag Laws
Speaking With Sheriff Chris Brown About His Refusal To Enforce Red Flag Laws

Cleburne County, AR –-(Ammoland.com)- Sheriff Chris Brown was born in a small gold mining community in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Ever since childhood, he wanted to be a police officer. His calling stuck with him through college.

During Sheriff Brown’s senior year at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas, he took a job as a jailer for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology/Sociology, he was hired full time by the Salina Police Department. He would graduate the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in 2008.

In January of 2011, Sheriff Brown moved to his wife’s hometown of Heber Springs, Arkansas. He would start working for the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office in the patrol division. That summer, he would move up to the criminal investigation division.

Two years later, Sheriff Brown would start working for the Searcy Police Department. He would serve as a patrol officer, assistant team leader of the Special Response Team, firearms instructor, and tactical weapons instructor.

Sheriff Brown would run for Cleburne Sheriff in 2016. He would win the election, and the citizens would reelect him in 2018. Sheriff Brown takes his oath to the Constitution seriously. He has pledged not to violate that oath for any reason. He is also an avid supporter of the Second Amendment.

Recently Sheriff Brown has made waves by vowing not to enforce any Extreme Risk Protect Orders (ERPO). These red-flag laws confiscate guns without due process for the target of the ERPO. He realizes that by enforcing these orders, he would be violating his oath of office and betraying the citizens he is sworn to protect.

I had a chance to speak with Sheriff Brown about his duty as a Sheriff and his strict adherence to the Constitution of the United States.

John: You have taken a stance against red flag laws. Why did you decide to push back against them?

Sheriff Brown: Our job as law enforcement and my job as an elected official and agency head is to ensure that in everything we do, we are protecting the rights of our citizens. So often, we remain silent when we see something that we don’t like or don’t agree with, or in the case of RFLs, is flat out wrong and Unconstitutional. But if we remain silent, we are consenting. Gun control has long been a push from liberal legislators, and for the most part, gun owners and conservative legislators have allowed them to make their noise.

However, we are now starting to see even conservative legislators cave and agree to compromise our rights away. It’s time for us in the silent majority to start speaking up and telling our legislators and elected officials that we won’t tolerate these gross overreaches. Being the head of a law enforcement agency, and especially being an elected Sheriff allows me to have a strong voice in this fight, but we’ve got to stand together and make our voices heard. I am pushing back because I am the last line of defense between my citizens and an overreaching government.

John: Do you think the anti-crowd is trying to exploit emotions to get red flag laws passed?

Sheriff Brown: I certainly think that playing to one’s emotions is an effective tactic. I also think we have legislators that certainly do that because they know it is an effective tactic. However, I think (and hope) that the vast majority of our legislators bring with them a desire to serve their communities and make their communities a better place. Even though we fundamentally disagree on the best way to protect our communities, I have to believe that’s what the majority of legislators on both sides of the aisle are trying to do.

The benefit of using emotion to get laws passed is that most often, facts get overlooked. If anti-gun legislators were willing actually to look at and study the data, they would see very clearly that guns aren’t the problem. We have to start placing blame where the blame lies with the perpetrator. Maybe if we start there, we can begin to really pull the data apart and start identifying the true underlying causes of what makes people killers.

John: When you announced that you would not enforce red flag laws, what was the response?

Sheriff Brown: The overall response to my letter and my stance has been extremely supportive and positive. I have had some blowback, but it’s been very few people, using the same talking points as what anti-gun legislators push. In each of those cases, I’ve taken the time to try and educate, instead of ridicule, in the hopes that, through education, we can begin to change people’s minds.

We have to see that a lot of the animosity and anti-gun rhetoric comes out of a lack of knowledge and understanding of firearms. Instead of immediately getting frustrated and berating someone who holds anti-gun views, we should be trying to ask and answer their questions and concerns. Of course, there’s time to walk away from a conversation when there’s no longer a chance of it being productive, but that shouldn’t be our default response.

John: Do you hope that more law enforcement officers take a similar stance?

Sheriff Brown: It’s my hope that every member of law enforcement, our military, and our elected officials, who all take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the state they serve, would stand strong for our rights. Our rights were given to us by God, and our Constitution was written by “We the People” to restrict the government from encroaching on those rights. I believe that we have already seen, and quite frankly accepted, overreach in many areas, so I appreciate people and organizations like GOA who stand strong and refuse to compromise our rights away in the name of “safety.”

Sheriff Brown: It's my hope that every member of law enforcement, our military, and our elected officials, who all take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the state they serve, would stand strong for our rights.
Sheriff Brown: It’s my hope that every member of law enforcement, our military, and our elected officials, who all take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the state they serve, would stand strong for our rights.

John: We hear that we must pass gun control “to protect law enforcement.” What would say to those that use that rhetoric?

Sheriff Brown: I would say the majority of people that hold that opinion have never worked in law enforcement. By definition, criminals don’t obey the law. Passing more laws isn’t going to encourage or cause them to obey the law any more than it does now. We have seen many, many cops who have been saved by an armed citizen stepping in to help. Passing gun control laws will only restrict the ability of those who follow the law to carry guns, and I would argue, it makes our job even less safe.

John: What would you say the Charlottesville’s Chief, who told Congress she thinks they should ban any gun that could kill someone?

Sheriff Brown: As I listened to her testimony before Congress, I was dumbfounded as to how someone in this profession could hold that view. Even by CDC statistics as cited by the Pew Research Center, only about 37% of all gun-related deaths are homicides, and a large percentage of those are gang-related. Overall, our gun-related murder rates today are lower than in the mid-1970s, even though gun-ownership rates have skyrocketed. Murder is against the law. And since criminals, by definition, break the law, if their intent is to murder someone, they will do it without a firearm. Banning firearms will not make our communities safer.

John: Why do you take your oath to the Constitution so seriously?

Sheriff Brown: Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” I whole-heartedly believe that, and it should be a priority for every American to defend our liberties. Taking an oath is my word, my bond, my promise. A handshake in this country used to be good enough to do business deals by, but it seems anymore that words mean nothing to us. Our young people need to see, and our country is depending on us to start taking our oath, our words, and our promises seriously again.

John: Do you think gun-control makes us safer or less safe?

Sheriff Brown: I absolutely think gun control makes us less safe. The people that are affected by gun-control legislation are the people that obey the law. Taking away their ability to defend themselves only leaves them more vulnerable and emboldens those that are not going to obey the law anyway.

John: Do your constituents support your views on people’s rights?

Sheriff Brown: I have had many people from my community, and from all over the state (even from several other states), reach out to me and voice their support for my stance. I think people desperately want their elected officials to stand up for what’s right, and to do the things they said they would. It’s our responsibility as elected officials to defend the rights of our citizens, and I’ve seen strong support for the elected officials who have done just that.

John: How can people find out more about your campaign?

Sheriff Brown: You can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/cbforsheriff, or on Instagram under sheriffchrisbrown. If your group would like me to come to speak at an event, I can also be reached by email at cbrown@cleburneso.org, or by calling the Cleburne County (Arkansas) Sheriff’s Office at (501)362-8143. Thank you for your support, and God Bless the USA!

AmmoLand wants to thank Sheriff Brown for taking time out of his day to answer our questions.

84-Year Old Retired Cop Has Guns Seized After School Safety Comment

H/T Bearing Arms.

  Stephen Nichols is the victim of Dangerous Red Flag Laws.

An 84-year old retired police officer, military veteran, and school crossing guard in Massachusetts has had his firearms seized and was fired from his job after someone overheard a conversation at a diner and reported him as a threat to the local school.

Stephen Nichols says he was talking with a friend at a local restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard when the subject of the local school resource officer came up. Nichols was upset that the officer, in his opinion, was “leaving his post” by going to get coffee at a nearby convenience shop instead of remaining on campus to protect students, and said that somebody could “shoot up the school” in the officer’s absence. Based on nothing more than that simple remark, Nichols’ life was turned upside down and the Tisbury police have a lot of questions to answer.

Nichols said the waitress made a complaint to Tisbury Police about what she overheard and on the strength of that, Saloio and another officer relieved Nichols of his crossing guard duties while he was in the midst of performing them and subsequently drove to his home and took away his firearms license and guns.

“He came up and told me what I said was a felony but he wasn’t going to charge me,” Nichols said of Saloio.

The confiscated guns were later turned over to Nichols’ son-in-law, Nichols told The Times.

Asked if he was given a letter or any paperwork for the seizure of his license, Nichols said,

“No he just told me to hand it over so I took it out of my wallet and handed it to him.”

Nichols says never received any receipts acknowledging the seizure of his firearms either, and notes since he obtained his Massachusetts firearms license in 1958 he’s never had any issues until now.

Virtually every person who heard Nichols’ comment, with the exception of the waitress who complained, says there was nothing threatening about his statement. Far from expressing any intent to harm the students at the local school, Nichols’ was complaining that they were being left unprotected.

Nichols said he has 11 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. “I would never, ever, ever, harm a child,” he said.

Nichols lost his wife two years ago and values his crossing guard work as a connection to the outside world. “I just need something to do to get out of the house and I love the kids,” he said.

Thankfully, Nichols does have an attorney, and they’re appealing both the revocation of Nichols’ firearms license as well as his removal as a crossing guard. I hope they’re successful in righting this wrong. We do owe the chief in Tisbury a bit of gratitute, however, for such a great demonstration of the capricious nature of gun licensing laws in Massachusetts. You don’t have to be charged with a crime, much less convicted, to lose your right to keep and bear arms. No, all that’s necessary is for someone to misconstrue what you said, interpret it as a threat, and report your comment to the police. They’ll take it (and your guns) from there, no hearing necessary.

What happened to Stephen Nichols could happen to virtually any legal gun owner in the state of Massachusetts, because in Massachusetts the right to keep and bear arms isn’t treated as a right at all. Instead, it’s viewed by the law as a privilege to be doled out and taken away by local police chiefs, and while some might recognize the 2nd Amendment as protecting an individual right, it is clear that there are many who don’t think that at all. With little to no investigation or reason, they can strip you of your license and your firearms, and your only recourse is to engage in a lengthy and expensive appeals process. Thankfully Mr. Nichols is willing to make that engagement, but how many others won’t or can’t afford to do the same?

**Update**

Shortly after posting the original story, the local paper on Martha’s Vineyard reported that Nichols has been reinstated as a crossing guard for the local school, but bizarrely, the police are apparently still revoking his firearm license.

Dan Larkosh, of the Edgartown firm Larkosh and Jackson, represents Nichols, and he was pleased Nichols was reinstated. Nevertheless he intends to file an appeal of the decision by Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio to seize guns owned by Nichols, as well as his license to carry.

Go get ’em, Mr. Larkosh. I find it unfathomable that after all this, the police chief hasn’t returned Stephen Nichols’ firearms and issued a groveling apology. It’s clear that would be the right thing to do. It’s a mystery as to why the chief hasn’t done it.

Gunmageddon II: CA Gov Signs More Than A Dozen Gun Control Bills

H/T Bearing Arms.

Will the last sane American leaving Commifornia Please bring the flag?

Back in 2016, California gun owners had a name for a sweeping anti-gun ballot initiative pushed by then-Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom: “Gunmaggedon.” Today, Newsom unveiled its sequel, signing more than a dozen gun control bills into law Friday afternoon.  “Gunmaggedon II” imposes new restrictions on firearm purchase, dramatically expands the state’s “red flag” law, bans gun shows from taking place at a state-owned facility, and more.

“This continues California’s leadership in terms of gun safety,” Newsom said at a state Capitol bill signing ceremony.

The measure restricting purchases, SB 61, prohibiting Californians from buying more than one semiautomatic rifle per month was one of three gun bills by state Sen.Anthony Portantino (D–La Cañada Flintridge). It also bans the sale of semiautomatic centerfire rifles to people under the age of 21, removing a provision of the law that allowed younger people to buy such weapons guns if they have a hunting license.

The state’s “red flag” law, meanwhile, will now allow almost anyone to petition courts to take away someone’s firearms.

The law currently allows law enforcement and family members of troubled individuals to ask the courts to issue a “gun-violence restraining order” that takes away their firearms, but the measure signed Friday by Newsom adds teachers, school administrators, employers and co-workers to the list of those who may petition the courts to remove guns.

Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) authored the bill after school officials said they had raised concerns about the behavior of the Parkland shooting suspect before he allegedly went on a rampage in February 2018.

“Thoughts and prayers are no longer enough,” Ting said Friday. “With school and workplace shootings on the rise, it’s common sense to give the people we see every day the power to intervene and prevent tragedies.”

Another measure signed by Newsom expands the length of time that the gun violence restraining orders remain in effect from one to five years, which as NRA-ILA recently pointed out, means someone could be deprived of their right to keep and bear arms for half a decade without ever being adjudicated mentally ill or convicted of a criminal offense.

Newsom also signed AB 893, which bans gun shows from taking place at the state-owned Del Mar Fairgrounds and will almost certainly prompt a legal challenge by 2nd Amendment groups in the state. Another measure, AB 1297, eliminates the cap on fees that counties can charge for processing concealed carry applications, which gives anti-carry sheriffs another tool to discriminate against those who want to carry a firearm for self-defense.

One other bill that’s going to cause huge problems for gun owners is AB 879, which requires all “precursor parts” sold in the state be sold through a licensed “precursor parts dealer”, which in turn means background checks (and fees) on every purchase of a “precursor part”, be it a trigger, a barrel, or an 80% lower. Basically anything other than an a finished firearm, frame, or finished receiver. This is modeled after California’s new ammunition background check law, which has had thousands of false denials and delays since it went into effect earlier this year. And just like California’s ammunition background check law, which makes it illegal for California residents to bring ammunition purchased out of state back home, this bill creates a new misdemeanor offense for anyone who brings “a firearm precursor part into the state without first having the part delivered to a licensed firearm precursor part vendor.”

Many of these new laws are going to be challenged in court, and I suspect many of them will have a difficult time, just like the state’s magazine ban, which was blocked from taking effect by a federal judge. Still, it’s always better to be able to win these battles in the statehouse instead of the courtroom. As I read about these new laws in California, I can’t help but think about the upcoming elections in Virginia, where I live. We could see California-style gun control laws imposed almost immediately depending on the results on November 5th. California has an anti-gun legislative supermajority at the moment, which means the best and only real recourse for gun owners in the state is in the court system. If you’re a gun owner in a state that doesn’t currently have California-style gun control laws that treat a right as if it’s a privilege, I strongly encourage you to get involved now to help keep it that way.

States Are Depriving Innocent People, of Their Second Amendment Rights

H/T Reason.com.

Gun rights organizations need to mount massive lawsuits against these Dangerous Red Flag laws.

“Red flag” laws leave gun owners defenseless.

Shortly after 5 a.m. on November 5, 2018, two police officers arrived at Gary Willis’ house in Glen Burnie, Maryland. They were there to take away his guns. They ended up killing him instead.

According to the Anne Arundel County Police Department, the 61-year-old man, who at that hour presumably had just been awakened by the officers’ knocking, answered the door with a gun in his hand. He put it down when he saw who was there. Upon learning that the two officers had come to serve him with an “extreme risk protective order” (ERPO) that barred him from possessing firearms, police said, Willis became “irate” and picked up the weapon again. As one officer tried to wrestle the gun away from Willis, it went off, whereupon the other officer shot him.

Police Chief Timothy Altomare subsequently argued that the incident illustrated the need for Maryland’s ERPO law, which had taken effect barely a month before. “If you look at this morning’s outcome,” he told the Annapolis Capital, a newspaper whose headquarters had been the site of a mass shooting the previous June, “it’s tough for us to say ‘Well, what did we prevent?’ Because we don’t know what we prevented or could’ve prevented. What would’ve happened if we didn’t go there at 5 a.m.?”

Well, for one thing, Gary Willis probably would still be alive.

Altomare invites us to speculate that Willis might have used a gun to kill someone. Yet at the time of his death, the only evidence to support that concern seems to have been a complaint from his sister, who reportedly obtained the temporary ERPO against her brother after a family argument during which he said something that alarmed her. Willis had no opportunity to challenge that claim, and he had no idea he had been stripped of his Second Amendment rights until police arrived at his door early in the morning with the court order in hand.

Anne Arundel County police did not respond to my inquiries, and the Maryland courts have declined to provide records of the case, which are confidential under state law unless a judge rules otherwise. Based on interviews with relatives, local news outlets reported that the ERPO stemmed from an argument the day before about the care of Willis’ elderly mother. According to WBFF, the local Fox station, “Gary Willis struggle[d] with alcoholism” but “family say he wasn’t dangerous, just strongly opinionated.”

Michele Willis, Gary’s niece, gave a similar account in an interview with The Baltimore Sun, saying her uncle “likes to speak his mind” but “wouldn’t hurt anybody.” She added that his fatal encounter with the police seemed senseless. “I’m just dumbfounded now,” she said. “They didn’t need to do what they did.”

Maryland is one of 17 states with so-called red flag laws, most of which were enacted following the February 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. After the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton in August, President Donald Trump endorsed red flag laws as a way of preventing such crimes by disarming would-be mass murderers. But judging from the available data, the court orders authorized by such laws are usually aimed at preventing suicide rather than homicide. The evidence on whether they succeed in doing that is mixed. So far there is no solid evidence that they prevent homicides, even though the oldest red flag law was enacted two decades ago.

One thing is certain: Taking away people’s guns based on predictions of what they might do with them raises thorny due process concerns. That’s especially true with laws like Maryland’s, which authorize broad categories of people to seek ERPOs based on scant evidence and effectively put the burden on gun owners to demonstrate that they don’t pose a threat to themselves or others. While the benefits of these laws are mostly speculative, they inevitably deprive law-abiding people of the constitutional right to armed self-defense, even when it is quite unlikely that they would use guns to hurt themselves or anyone else.

A 95 Percent Approval Rate

Maryland’s law, which was enacted two months after the Parkland attack and took effect in October 2018, authorizes law enforcement officers, physicians, mental health specialists, and various relatives, intimates, and cohabitants to seek ERPOs. That list includes housemates, spouses, dating partners, people who have “a child in common with the respondent,” and anyone “related to the respondent by blood, marriage, or adoption.” A temporary ERPO, lasting up to a week, can be issued if there are “reasonable grounds” to believe the respondent poses “an immediate and present danger” to himself or others.

At that stage, as Gary Willis discovered, respondent is a misnomer: The initial ERPO is an ex parte order, meaning its target does not have a chance to respond. A judge can extend the ex parte order for up to six months if there is “good cause.” A final ERPO, which lasts up to a year and can be extended for another six months, can be issued after a hearing based on “clear and convincing evidence” that the respondent “poses a danger” to himself or others. In light of that language, extreme risk protective order is also a misnomer, since any level of danger—slight, great, or middling—suffices to obtain one. But at least at this point, the respondent is allowed to rebut the claims against him, although he has no right to legal representation if he can’t afford it.

During the first five months after the ERPO law took effect, according to statewide data published by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, judges or commissioners (low-level judicial officers) approved 422 temporary or interim orders. Requests for those initial orders are almost never rejected in Maryland, and the same is true in Florida, which enacted a red flag law in March 2018.

It is not surprising that judges are disinclined to be skeptical of an applicant who claims a gun owner poses an imminent threat, since they do not want to take the blame if something terrible happens before they can hold an adversarial hearing. But what happens at the next stage, when the threat need not be imminent but the burden of proof is heavier? In Maryland, when a hearing was actually held (in some cases the petitioners did not show up), judges granted final ERPOs 62 percent of the time. In Florida, according to data from the Office of the State Courts Administrator, 1,482 hearings had been held as of March 31 and 1,409 orders had been granted, which translates into an approval rate of 95 percent.

Although the standard of proof in Florida is the same as in Maryland (clear and convincing evidence), Florida’s law allows petitions only by law enforcement officers or agencies, which judges apparently find more credible than the reports of possibly aggrieved (or sincerely mistaken) spouses, dating partners, cohabitants, in-laws, or blood relatives, who accounted for most of the applications in Maryland. But that trust can be misplaced.

‘I’m Not a Violent Person’

Consider Chris Velasquez, a University of Central Florida (UCF) student who owned no firearms, had no history of violence, and had never threatened anyone, but who nevertheless was an early target of his state’s red flag law because he said some stupid things on Reddit. In a thread titled “You guys are too weak to be a school shooter,” Velasquez replied, “Maybe for now but not forever.” Later, he posted “RIP Paddock my hero” in a thread about the autopsy of Las Vegas mass shooter Stephen Paddock and wrote “Cruz is a hero!” in reference to Nikolas Cruz, perpetrator of the Parkland massacre.

Those three comments resulted in a March 2018 interview with a UCF police officer, Jeffrey Panter, during which Velasquez explained that he was just “trolling” and trying to look tough but regretted his tasteless comments. “I’m not a violent person,” Velasquez told Panter. “I would never, ever act out in violence against anybody in a mass shooting or anything of the sort.” He called the Parkland massacre “a senseless tragedy” and noted that a mass shooter may get his “15 minutes of fame” but will “eventually be remembered as a piece of crap.” Listening to the interview, you do not get the impression that Velasquez had ever seriously contemplated committing a crime of this sort, let alone made any plans or taken any steps in that direction.

Panter refused to accept Velasquez’s explanation or his assurances. During the interview he pressured, cajoled, and manipulated Velasquez into agreeing with statements that, taken out of context, made it seem like he genuinely admired Paddock and Cruz, that he identified with Cruz because both of them had been bullied as kids, and that he had repeatedly fantasized about returning to his former middle school or high school in Orlando and shooting it up.

A mandatory psychiatric assessment after the interview found that Velasquez did not meet Florida’s criteria for involuntary treatment, which would have required clear and convincing evidence that, because of mental illness, there was a “substantial likelihood” that he would “inflict serious bodily harm” on himself or others “in the near future.” Panter nevertheless referred the case to the Orlando Police Department, where Sgt. Matthew Ochiuzzo twisted Velasquez’s online comments and his interview with Panter into a portrait of a deeply troubled man who was just one disappointment away from committing mass murder.

On a list of 15 possible grounds for issuing a risk protection order (as it’s known in Florida), Ochiuzzo checked five, including “there is evidence that the respondent is seriously mentally ill,” “respondent has committed a recent act or threat of violence,” and “respondent has used or threatened to use any weapons against him or herself or others.” None of that was true.

Ochiuzzo claimed Velasquez “disclosed that he has had thoughts and urges to commit a mass shooting since his sophomore year of high school.” But Velasquez never said that. To the contrary, when Panter asked about his state of mind in high school, he said, “I didn’t have any thoughts of a school shooting.”

Ochiuzzo also claimed “the respondent indicated that he wanted to commit the mass shootings so that he could feel the ‘adrenaline rush’ from the shooting.” In reality, Velasquez repeatedly said he would never commit such a crime.

Based on an affidavit that was highly misleading and in some respects blatantly inaccurate, Circuit Judge Bob LeBlanc issued a temporary risk protection order against Velasquez. But at a hearing about two weeks later, when Velasquez finally had a chance to defend himself, LeBlanc found the city had failed to provide clear and convincing evidence that Velasquez posed “a significant danger.”

Velasquez’s lawyer, Kendra Parris, says LeBlanc realized the threat described by Ochiuzzo was never more than theoretical. “The judge asked, ‘Did he actually make any threats, or was this all in response to hypothetical questions?'” she says. “And of course, it was all in response to hypothetical questions. Fortunately, the judge noted that this essentially amounted to thought policing and declined to issue the order.”

‘They’re Treating Me As If I’m a Criminal’

Although that decision may look like a victory for due process, Parris notes that LeBlanc could have reached a different conclusion, since Florida’s law says judges “may consider any relevant evidence.” The statute gives 15 examples but says the list is not exhaustive.

The law also leaves crucial terms undefined. Ochiuzzo claimed Velasquez was “seriously mentally ill,” for example, even though he had no diagnosis and a psychiatrist found he did not meet the criteria for commitment. Nor is it clear what “a significant danger” means in this context. Even assuming that judges apply such standards with precision, should they consider a 5 percent risk “significant”? One percent? Ten percent?

“Because we can’t figure out what ‘significant’ means, you have this high burden of proof,” Parris says—but it relates to a probability that may be “extraordinarily low,” based on any evidence a judge considers relevant. “The ‘clear and convincing evidence’ standard is meaningless, because the criteria are open-ended. The court literally can look at anything.”

One of Parris’ clients, who lives in Broward County, Florida, posted a photo of an AR-15 rifle he had built, accompanied by the comment, “It’s done. Hooray.” On another occasion, he posted a comment criticizing teenaged gun control activists, who he said were trying to take away people’s Second Amendment rights. Those two posts were enough to obtain a temporary gun confiscation order, although Parris ultimately persuaded the city to drop its petition for a final order.

Another client, former professional football player Oliver Hoyte, did not have the benefit of a lawyer at his hearing, but he really could have used one. After an argument with his aunt and her boyfriend, he says, they told police he had threatened them with a gun. In addition to that claim, Tampa police presented several other unverified allegations against Hoyte—including some they had never questioned him about, he says. They even cited a 2013 case in which he was acquitted of aggravated assault. He says video evidence contradicted the testimony of a man who claimed Hoyte had pulled a gun on him.

Parris notes that an Orange County judge last year rejected an application for a final risk protection order because it was based on events that predated the red flag law. Since the law does not say it applies retroactively, the judge said, the presumption is that it does not. That is one of the points Parris planned to raise if she managed to get a rehearing for Hoyte. She hoped to get that hearing by arguing that the government should have provided him with a public defender, although at press time she also was trying to negotiate dismissal of the case with the city.

“I feel like I should have the right to representation,” Hoyte says. “The judge said, ‘You do have the right to representation, but the court is not going to appoint it for you.'”

Police confiscated Hoyte’s Taurus 9 mm pistol, and he was forbidden to buy any other firearms for a year (possibly longer, if the order is extended). As a result, Hoyte says, he does not feel safe visiting certain neighborhoods, including the one where his family lives. “I’m not on an equal footing with everyone else,” he says. “I don’t have the right to bear arms, and I haven’t done anything wrong. I haven’t been convicted of any crime. I haven’t been hospitalized. I haven’t harmed anyone. This law is wrong because it eliminates due process. They’re treating me as if I’m a criminal.”

The high approval rate by judges in Florida suggests the deck is stacked against respondents like Hoyte. “All the pressure is on the other side,” Parris says. “There’s absolutely no downside to just going ahead and issuing the order.”

Parris argues that the “significant danger” standard is unconstitutionally vague and that Florida’s law impermissibly delegates legislative and prosecutorial authority to the police. But while such arguments can be raised on appeal, the process typically takes longer than the risk protection order lasts. “By the time your appeal works its way through the District Court of Appeal, it’s already going to be 12 months,” Parris says. “There’s no real recourse.”

Do Red Flag Laws Work?

Connecticut enacted the country’s first red flag law in 1999, following a mass shooting at the Connecticut Lottery Corporation’s headquarters the previous year. The statute allows police officers or prosecutors to seek a gun confiscation order when they have “probable cause” to believe someone poses “a risk of imminent personal injury” to himself or others. A hearing is required within 14 days of the seizure, at which point the standard becomes “clear and convincing evidence” of an imminent risk. If police meet that burden, they can keep confiscated guns for up to a year.

Indiana came next, enacting a red flag law in 2005, after a man diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia used a rifle to kill one Indianapolis police officer and injure another four. That law allows a police officer to seek a gun confiscation order against someone he believes poses an imminent threat to himself or others. It also applies to someone who poses a threat that is not immediate but who “has a propensity for violent or emotionally unstable conduct” or who “has a mental illness that may be controlled by medication” but has not been diligent about taking it.

Under Indiana’s law, a police officer can seize guns without a court order, in which case he is supposed to file an affidavit explaining his reasons after the fact. If a judge agrees that the officer had probable cause, police can keep the confiscated weapons. A hearing is required within 14 days, at which point the state has to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the gun owner meets the law’s criteria. After at least six months have passed, the gun owner can seek the return of his property. He has to prove by “a preponderance of the evidence” that he “is not dangerous.”

Notwithstanding the requirement that a hearing be held within two weeks, a 2015 study reported in the journal Behavioral Sciences and the Law found that gun owners waited an average of more than nine months before a court decided whether police could keep their firearms. When a hearing finally was scheduled, most of the gun owners did not show. But when they did, they usually prevailed, meaning judges decided the state had not met its burden of proving them dangerous. During the last 71 months covered by the eight-year study, gun owners won every contested case.

In Connecticut, by comparison, judges ruled that guns should be kept by the government in 68 percent of cases where the outcome was known, according to a 2014 Connecticut Law Review article. But outcomes were reported in less than 30 percent of cases.

Although Indiana and Connecticut both enacted red flag legislation in response to mass shootings, the laws are used mainly to protect people from their own suicidal impulses, a justification cited in 68 percent of Indiana cases from 2006 through 2013 and in 61 percent of Connecticut cases from 1999 to 2013. A study reported last year in the journal Psychiatric Services found that Indiana’s law was associated with a 5 percent reduction in the overall suicide rate, while Connecticut’s law was associated with a net increase in suicides. Using a different (and contested) method, a 2017 study published in Law and Contemporary Problems estimated that one suicide was prevented in Connecticut by every 10 to 20 gun seizures. A 2019 study of Indiana’s law by the same researchers, reported in The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, reached a similar conclusion.

Duke University medical sociologist Jeffrey Swanson, the lead author of those last two suicide studies, thinks due process needs improvement in Indiana. “The state’s apparent failure to comply with the statutory guideline of holding a hearing within 14 days puts a damper on the success story of suicide prevention,” he writes in an email. “This should be the focus of efforts to improve implementation of the law.”

‘It’s a Great Idea on Paper’

Even taking the results of Swanson’s studies at face value, the implication is that the vast majority of people whose guns were seized—90 to 95 percent—would not have committed suicide had they retained their firearms. Meanwhile, none of these studies reported any effect on homicides.

David Kopel, a gun policy expert at the Independence Institute in Denver, says red flag laws may have an impact, even if it is too small to be detected by looking at suicide and homicide rates. “I think it would disarm some people who are suicidal,” he says. “And I think you have some people who are acting dangerously enough that a person with common sense would say, ‘Wow, that guy should not have a gun.’ It would address folks like that.”

But Kopel emphasizes the importance of procedural safeguards to protect the constitutional rights of gun owners, such as requiring that petitions be submitted only by law enforcement agencies after an independent investigation, allowing ex parte orders only for good cause, limiting them to one week, limiting subsequent orders to six months, requiring clear and convincing evidence, providing counsel to respondents, giving them a right to cross-examine witnesses, and letting them sue people who file false and malicious petitions. He also recommends giving gun owners advance notice of confiscation orders unless there are special reasons not to do so, a policy that might have made a crucial difference in Gary Willis’ case.

Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, an expert on mass shootings, shares Kopel’s concern that suddenly seizing guns can make violence more likely. “If you have an individual who’s angry, bitter, threatening other people, [and] owns a gun,” Fox told Reason‘s Nick Gillespie in August, “the attempt to take that gun away can actually precipitate the very violent act that you’re trying to prevent.”

No existing law meets all of Kopel’s criteria. Washington state allows an even longer list of people to file petitions than Maryland does, including former spouses, former girlfriends and boyfriends, and former roommates. California’s list is almost as long, and a pending bill would expand it further, adding employers, co-workers, and school personnel. Colorado is the only state that guarantees a lawyer for respondents, and no state provides a civil remedy when petitioners lie.

In Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington, and the District of Columbia, a final order can be obtained based on a mere preponderance of the evidence: anything more than a 50 percent probability that the respondent poses a “significant” danger. Depending on what counts as significant, this formula implies that people can lose their gun rights even if it is nearly certain that they would not have hurt themselves or others.

After the El Paso and Dayton massacres, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) introduced a bipartisan bill that would provide federal grants to encourage the passage and enforcement of red flag laws. “The Second Amendment is not a suicide pact,” Graham told Fox News, while dismissing critics of red flag laws as “libertarians.” He likened gun confiscation orders to involuntary psychiatric treatment, saying “that process would apply to gun ownership,” when in fact the criteria for civil commitment are substantially stricter. Graham also promised that “nobody’s going to lose their gun unless they have their day in court,” which is clearly not true in light of ex parte orders that can last as long as six months.

“It’s a great idea on paper,” says Dave Workman, senior editor at the Second Amendment Foundation in Bellevue, Washington. “The problem is the execution.” In practice, he says, red flag laws mean “you’re guilty until you prove yourself innocent.”