Guns Siezed In VA’s First “Red Flag” Case

H/T Bearing Arms.

Red Flag Laws are just legalized theft.

We here at Bearing Arms haven’t been real fans of “red flag” laws. That’s not likely to change, either. While it may have sounded good in the immediate aftermath of Parkland, during the cold light of day, the whole idea falls apart. It’s still taking guns from people who haven’t broken any laws, no matter how you cut it.

This has been the case in every state it’s been implemented in.

Now, it’s happened in Virginia.

“What’s the point in living?” “I just want to die.”

Those were the comments police said a man made prior to having his guns taken in the first local case involving Virginia’s new “red flag” law. The case was adjudicated on Monday in Winchester Circuit Court.

The 45-year-old Winchester man made the suicidal threats while in possession of a pistol on July 17, according to police. He voluntarily surrendered three guns to police and will not be allowed to possess guns until at least Jan. 30. The man didn’t attend the hearing on the “substantial risk order,” according to Marc Abrams, Winchester commonwealth’s attorney. The Winchester Star isn’t naming the man because he hasn’t been charged with a crime.

The new law, which went into effect July 1, is designed to keep guns away from potentially violent people. There are approximately 36,000 gun deaths annually in the U.S. including about 1,000 in Virginia, according to the Gifford Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which analyzed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics. That includes about 22,000 suicides and nearly 13,000 homicides.

Unfortunately, there’s an issue that’s being ignored.

If the individual in question was such a risk to himself, then why wasn’t he hospitalized instead? There have been laws on the books for decades allowing people who are suicidal to be admitted to the hospital involuntarily. If he was such a threat, why didn’t they admit him instead?

After all, there are still other means he can use to kill himself.

“But guns are more effective for suicides,” some might counter, and that’s not untrue. However, as noted in a post on Monday, that’s not to say that other methods aren’t nearly as effective. There are still some pretty surefire ways to kill yourself that don’t involve firearms.

Yet, with a red flag order in place, everyone can pat themselves on the back and delude themselves into believing that they’ve saved this man’s life.

They haven’t.

Either he’ll kill himself with another method or he won’t. If he doesn’t even try to commit suicide, then it’s a pretty good indication that maybe he wasn’t that suicidal to begin with.

After all, a lot of people feel that way–that they want to die and don’t see a point to go on living–without actually wanting to commit suicide. And that’s likely why he wasn’t admitted. After all, you don’t admit people against their will for being depressed, you admit them because they’re likely to do something.

But proponents of red flag laws will look at this and pretend they’ve done some good.

I wonder if they’ll feel the same way when someone dies because of this nonsense?

Everytown Pushing Police Reform, But Its Red Flag Laws Are Part Of The Problem

H/T Bearing Arms.

Red Flag Laws are a problem but Everytown will never admit they are a problem.

I’ve written before about the contradiction between the “Defund Police” movement and the calls for new gun control laws, which, at the moment, is seeing a pretty large overlap between the two groups. How do you enforce new gun laws with a defunded police department? Should we be adding new gun control laws to the books when current enforcement typically results in disproportionate numbers of arrests for minorities? These are pretty big questions that so far haven’t been answered by gun control activists or those pushing to defund or abolish police departments. Here’s another: how do you plan on enforcing “red flag” or Extreme Risk Protection Orders?

When a red flag firearms seizure order is signed by a judge, it’s up to local police to serve that order on the individual in question. In some states, officers are empowered to immediately seize any legally-owned firearms, while in other states the individual may have a short period of time to lawfully transfer their firearms to someone for safekeeping, or can make arrangements to “voluntarily” hand over their firearms in lieu of having them forcibly seized. In either case, however, it’s law enforcement, not mental health experts, who are responsible for dealing with someone who’s been deemed by a judge to potentially be a danger to themselves or others.

In fact, while gun control groups like Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety have been calling for police reform, including the use of more mental health professionals to deal with at-risk individuals, they continue to push for “red flag” laws that don’t even mention the words “mental health.”

In Virginia, for example, no doctor, nurse, or mental health counselor will ever evaluate the subject of a potential Extreme Risk Protection Order. The process is conducted entirely through the legal system.

Under Virginia’s proposed law, judges or magistrates could issue an emergency order allowing police to seize a subject’s guns if an investigation determines that person poses “a substantial risk of personal injury to himself or others in the near future.” Within 14 days, a court hearing would be held to determine whether a more long-term order is justified. At that hearing, a judge could decide to return the guns or extend the order for up to 180 days, with additional extensions possible if authorities believe the threat of violence has not diminished with time.

Everytown is currently lobbying for things like the Justice in Policing Act, which it calls “an important step forward in stopping police brutality and gun violence” (how, exactly it would stop gun violence they never do say), all while pushing to empower the police to disarm Americans not accused of a crime and without any kind of mental health evaluation whatsoever. In fact, the judge who will decide whether or not there’s a reasonable suspicion that someone is a danger to themselves or others will never even see the subject of the petition before making their ruling.

It’s the height of hypocrisy for Everytown to be demanding police reform when it continues to push for Red Flag laws that don’t even have room for a psychiatrist to examine someone before the cops come to take their guns away. We’ve already seen how enforcement of these laws can have fatal consequences, and I haven’t seen any gun control groups demanding greater transparency when the subject of a red flag order is shot by police, as in the case of Duncan Lemp, who was shot and killed by police in Potomac, Maryland in March while serving a red flag order. As Montgomery Community Media recently reported:

It has been almost three months since a Potomac man was fatally shot by a member of the Montgomery County Police Department Tactical Unit, but many details surrounding the case still have not been made public.

Since the March 12 death police-involved shooting of 21-year-old Duncan Lemp in his bedroom, the name of the officer who fired the fatal shots, autopsy results and any police camera video has yet to be released.

MCPD used a special warrant that allowed its officers to enter the home in the 12200 block of St. James Road in Potomac without first knocking.

The investigation has been turned over to the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office, as is the normal procedure, to avoid Montgomery County officials from investigating their own and to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

When asked about the status of the case, Yolanda Vazquez, external affairs director at the Howard County’s SAO, only replied, “The Duncan Lemp case is currently under investigation by our office.”

Attorneys for Lemp’s family say the man was shot by officers while he was sleeping. The MCPD disputes that, saying that Lemp confronted officers and was shot. Release of the body cam footage would go a long way towards shedding some light on what really happened, but once again, the folks at Everytown seem strangely uninterested in getting any answers, despite their newfound appreciation for police reform and accountability.

Red Flag Laws vs. Suicide Rates: Another Study Falls Short

H/T The Truth About Guns.

Red Flag laws are an epic failure.

Weld County, CO red flag petition

Source: Weld County, CO

A new study of the effect of red flag laws on suicides was published this month. The study title and a first glance at the Methods section, got my hopes up.

The impact of gun violence restraining order laws in the U.S. and firearm suicide among older adults: a longitudinal state-level analysis, 2012–2016

“This is a longitudinal study of US states…”

I consider longitudinal studies of the effects of laws to be the gold standard. Look at a period of time stretching from well before the enactment of a law to well after. Look for discontinuities in the trend of whatever factor you are concerned with at the time of enactment and after. If there is no discontinuity, the law had no effect on that factor.

But then I considered the time frame.

“… using data from 2012 to 2016.”

That’s a peculiar time frame, given how few red flag laws were passed in those years. In fact, only four states had red flag laws at all in 2012-2016: Connecticut (passed in 1999), Indiana (2005), California (2014), and Washington (2016).

Only California could possibly show a potential trend discontinuity due to law enactment in the test period. What are they up to?

“We hypothesize that, relative to states with fewer firearm laws…”/i>

Aha! It isn’t a real longitudinal study; it’s the usual cross-sectional garbage. And we won’t even get into how they cherry-picked two age groups (55-64 and 65+) when the laws were imposed on everyone of all ages.

On to the researchers’ results.

“In unadjusted analysis, each additional firearm law was associated with a significant 0.13% decrease in firearm-related suicide among older adults in both age categories”

That’s significant? Florida saw a 8.5% increase in suicides after passage
of its red flag law (granted, the post-passage time frame is too short to know if that is significant, or just a statistical glitch for one year).

Clearly that wasn’t so significant after all…

“After adjustments, GVRO laws remained associated with a 2.5% decrease in firearm-related suicide among older adults”

Translation: the data didn’t say what they wanted, so they massaged it. And still couldn’t get results consistent with what happened in Florida. If they’d simply do a state-by-state temporal analysis of suicide trends, they wouldn’t have to adjust for demographics.

“However, there appeared to be a slight increase in non-firearm-related suicides in this age group”

How much of an increase? I don’t know, because the only data shown (Table 3) claims a decrease in both age groups: 55-64, -0.02; 65+, −0.35 in adjusted numbers. The unadjusted numbers aren’t given; maybe that’s where the increase was.

At best, given all possible benefit of the doubt, the researchers may have found a slight correlation between red flag laws and suicides. But, again, I don’t know; because the existence of a law doesn’t say anything about how often it’s used.

The paper notes that until 2006, Connecticut only used red flag orders to confiscate roughly 20 guns per year. Florida executed well over a thousand orders in its first year. And saw the increase in suicides that I mentioned.

I’d like to see state-by-state graphs of red flag orders served versus suicides. And even that might not tell us much as such orders may be related to threats to others, not self. Orders are commonly sealed from the public view; we know of an order, but not what type of threat triggered it.

But we likely won’t see such studies because I suspect they already know the data won’t support the victim disarmament narrative.

NJ Man Faces Long, Slow Fight Against Red Flag Petition

H/T Bearing Arms.

Red Flag Laws are another way to deny people their Second Amendment Rights.

A 57-year old New Jersey man embroiled in a dispute with his former doctor and the doctor’s attorney says he never threatened the pair, and shouldn’t have his firearms taken from him under the state’s red flag Extreme Risk Protection Order law.

Alfred Conti was in court on Thursday challenging the petition that allowed police to confiscate his five legally-owned firearms in September, shortly after New Jersey’s red flag law went into effect. Conti agrees that he’s threatened press attention and litigation against Dr. Matthew Kaufman and attorney James Maggs, but says it’s ridiculous to claim that he ever threatened violence.

Superior Court Judge Paul X. Escandon is presiding over the hearing, which is being closely watched by gun rights advocates. Escandon ultimately will decide if Conti can get his guns back.

Maggs testified in November that he felt threatened by profanity-laced phone calls an agitated Conti made to him after Kaufman refused to see Conti as a patient and sued him over negative reviews that Conti had written about the surgeon.

Thursday was Conti’s turn on the witness stand, and he readily admitted vowing to barrage Kaufman with bad press. He also conceded to a profanity-laced back and forth between him and Maggs, but he said that was the extent of it.

His attorney, Jason Seidman, asked him if he ever threatened another person with a gun.

“I would never do that in a million years,’’ Conti responded.

It doesn’t sound like prosecutors were able to document a physical threat by Conti, despite cross-examining him on the witness stand.

Sean Brennan, assistant Monmouth County prosecutor, asked Conti if he threatened to go to the media about his ongoing dispute with the practice.

“Sir, it’s not a threat, it’s a promise,’’ Conti responded, “I’ve been doing that since this case began.’’

Brennan brought up emails Conti sent to Maggs in which Conti referred to the Internal Revenue Service.

“Are you threatening to have Mr. Maggs or Dr. Kaufman audited?’’ Brennan asked him.

“No,’’ Conti responded. “Before this is over, I am definitely going to the attorney general. I’m going to the medical board. The newspaper is already involved, because I’m not the little guy who’s going to get squashed.’’

But, Conti insisted he has no plans to physically harm Kaufman or Maggs.

“I’m 57 years old, I have no criminal record,’’ Conti said. “Do you think I would want to make myself a criminal for a doctor and his pony lawyer?’’

Amazingly, while Conti’s firearms were seized almost immediately after the emergency order was granted back in September, the gun owner faces even more time before his guns might be returned to him. Thursday’s hearing on the final order will continue, but not until early March, and it could be even longer before the judge in the case decides whether or not Conti’s firearms should be returned to him. Conti first appeared in court to try to get his guns back last November, but the wheels of justice are moving awfully slowly.

In the meantime, Conti’s having to pay for an attorney for his case, since the state’s red flag laws are supposedly civil in nature, and public defenders aren’t an option for those subject to a red flag order who can’t afford an attorney. You either come up with the funds yourself, or you’re forced to go it alone in court. It’s another way in which the law is stacked against the subjects of these orders, but it’s not likely to be addressed any time soon.

WOMAN WHO RED FLAGGED COLORADO COP ARRESTED ON PERJURY

H/T Guns In The News.

This case is a great example of how dangerous red flag laws are.

Fort Collins, CO –-(Ammoland.com)- The Larimer County Sheriff Department arrested the women who tried to use Colorado’s new red flag law to disarm a police officer that shot and killed her son in a violent confrontation.

As AmmoLand reported earlier, Susan Holmes filed an extreme risk protection order (ERPO) against Corporal Phil Morris of the Colorado State University Police Department on January 9. Officer Morris and another officer encountered 19-year-old Jeremy Holmes acting erratically with a large hunting knife. After a brief standoff, Jeremy Holmes charged the officers and forced the police to shoot him.

The investigation of the shooting cleared Officer Morris of any wrongdoing and ruled that he defended himself against Jeremy Holmes. By using the officer’s bodycam footage, investigators determined that Jeremy Holmes committed suicide by cop by charging the police forcing them to shoot. Susan Holmes claimed that Morris murdered her son in cold blood. The investigation highlights the fact that the police ordered Jeremy Holmes to drop the knife 36 times during the encounter.

Holmes claimed that she and Morris had a child in common. She said she interpreted the on the ERPO form to mean any relationship to a child and not just biological allows a person to take out an ERPO against the other person. The ERPO forced officer Morris to appear in court to defend himself against the charges, or he would have lost his firearm rights.

Second Amendment advocates point to this case as to how red flag laws violate the citizen’s rights. They claim that the laws run contrary to the due process clause of the US Constitution. They also believe that the law also violates the Second Amendment.

RELATED:  As Democrats & Gun Banners Push for More Laws, Gun Sales Smash Records

The judge denied Susan Holmes’ petition on January 16. He pointed out that Morris and Holmes did not have a child together. The judge didn’t believe that Holmes misunderstood the question about having a child in common on the form that she filled out to start the ERPO process. He believed she filed the ERPO out of malice.

The courts determined that Holmes committed perjury by lying on the form. Like much of the country, in Colorado, perjury is a felony. Holmes refused to turn herself into the police. They made multiple attempts to apprehend Holmes

Larimer County Sheriff Department finally arrested Holmes on Tuesday at her home. She streamed the arrest live to YouTube. Holmes refused to open the door to the police, causing them to break down the door to take her into custody. Viewers could hear Holmes resisting arrest.

“You’re breaking my arm! You’re breaking my arm! You’re breaking my arm! Stop breaking my arm,” Holmes could be heard screaming in the live stream video.

Holmes talked about how she does not support the extreme risk protection orders that are now law in Colorado. She states that she believes that red flag laws are unconstitutional. She filed for the ERPO because, according to her, she believes that the law should apply evenly to police and citizens.

Holmes stated that she is a Second Amendment supporter, and people shouldn’t give up their guns. The host of the live stream, Tim, who goes by username Timmybnm, stated that Holmes is a Constitutionalist.

Police are holding Holmes on a $5,000 bond.

Seeing Red in Virginia

H/T DRGO.us.

 

Ed: Dr. Petrocelli plans to write Virginia state legislators along these lines about the perversions inherent in Red Flag laws. This is a good example of necessary citizen involvement with otherwise clueless and self-absorbed government representatives.]

I am writing to you to ask that you consider the following information before taking action on any so-called “Red Flag law.”

No one wants “dangerous” people armed. I have worked as a forensic psychiatrist in maximum security forensic psychiatric hospitals and prison special housing units, and am well aware of the harm persons with or without mental illness can do with guns. As I’ve written before, the aspirational goal of violence risk assessment—to identify persons who are likely to act violently—is laudable.  Red Flag laws are offered to intervene with such individuals who cannot be identified through either the criminal justice system or the mental health system.

In the abstract, this makes sense: there must be persons who are dangerous but not mentally ill and have not yet committed a crime. Without these laws, they could fall through the cracks and commit atrocities.  Those of us who oppose these laws realize that this abstraction doesn’t play out so neatly in reality, and are accused that our opposition means we want to arm dangerous persons.

The most solid argument against the red flag laws lies in the fact that there is no widely accepted, scientifically validated procedure to make such a determination. Don’t take my word for it—instead, take it from anti-gun David Rosmarin, MD, in his presentation to the Massachusetts Medical Society (emphasis added):

“While the base rate for violence may be 20% for forensic populations, the 6-month incidence of violence in even urban populations is closer to 6%. This yields a positive predictive value of .14, which results in a false positive rate of nearly 90%.

“Even a test with an impossible 0.9 accuracy for both true positives and true negatives will be wrong more than nine times out of ten at a base rate of 1% for severe violence.  Even with a 5-10% (hypothetically high)base rate of violence, the clinician who always predicts “no violence” will be more accurate than the clinician who identifies 20% as ‘violent’.”

We simply do not have methods of accurately assessing peoples’ risk of violence.  This gets worse when trying to predict rare events, for example, mass atrocities. In fact, our methods are so poor for uncommon events that our predictions would be wrong more than nine out of ten times.  This fits with the rest of the literature, which indicated that guns have to be removed from ten to twenty people to prevent one gun related suicide, notwithstanding the fact that once the guns are removed, suicidal people find other ways: “Connecticut’s estimated reduction in firearm suicides was offset by increased non-firearm suicides.”

Although there is great debate over how to approach risk assessment, it is generally agreed that the evaluator ought to use some structured method:

“Over the last two decades a number of actuarial formulas have been developed to predict various types of risk. Some have been the subject of extensive research and active debate in the field. Respected researchers have opined that risk assessment should be totally based on actuarial formulas, and asserted that such a procedure is superior to any clinical judgment (Quinsey et al., 1998). Others have decried reliance on these methods, saying that the day will never come when clinical judgment can be replaced by statistical calculations (Litwack, 2000). Still others have suggested that an integration of the two approaches may produce the most valuable results (Hanson, 1998).”

What do red flag laws offer in this regard?  Virginia’s Senate bill offers nothing of the sort.  Instead, it merely requires the court to entertain evidence of risk:

“In determining whether clear and convincing evidence for the issuance of an order exists, the judge shall consider any relevant evidence including any recent act of violence, force, or threat as defined in § 19.2-152.7:1 by such person directed toward another person or toward himself.”

There is no guidance as to how to reason about that evidence, or whether that evidence is outweighed by protective factors that mitigate the risk of violence-protective factors do not even have to be considered at all.  The irony of all of this is that the law requires the court to make a determination that, if offered as testimony by an expert, would fail to meet the requirements of admissibility, because the finding would not be based on any method commonly used by experts in the field. Nor would its reliability (or error rate) be known.  This is probably why New Jersey eliminated the rules of evidence for its red flag hearings.

Having established that risk assessment isn’t up to the challenge presented by red flag laws, these proceedings are an affront to the concept that underlies procedural due process:  fundamental fairness.  Fundamental fairness has been defined as the “most comprehensive protection of liberties,” and “the trenchant commitment to fair play and civilized decency in the relations between the state and the individual.”  How can there be “fair play” and “decency” towards red flag respondents when the arbiters of the fate of their inalienable rights have no scientifically valid procedure to apply to the evidence presented to them?

The Virginia Senate falsely compares its oppressive Red Flag law with Virginia’s civil commitment statutes because both begin with ex parte actions—so red flag laws’ must be constitutional. This is absurd, because what civil commitment lacks in front-end procedural due process it makes up for with fundamental fairness and decency.

Virginia’s mental health commitment scheme has three parts. The first, the Emergency Commitment Order, is issued ex parte, and orders law enforcement to bring a person to a place of evaluation for a short period of time. The subject is evaluated by a mental health professional authorized by the Commonwealth to perform assessments to determine whether or not the person is mentally ill and if so, on that basis, a danger to themselves or others.

Only then can the person be brought to a psychiatric hospital under a Temporary Detention Order (up to 72 hours). During that time the hospital staff evaluate whether or not the respondent needs commitment for treatment, can sign in voluntarily or should be released.

A full hearing, with counsel provided, is held before a Judge or Special Justice to determine whether or not the respondent should be committed for up to 180 days if that was recommended.  In summary, although civil commitment begins ex parte, two professional evaluations are done and a formal judicial hearing with the subject present with representation is required if further commitment is recommended.

Red Flag laws so far provide none of this. They require no expert evaluation before property is confiscated:  police arrive, announcing they have come to remove the respondent’s guns, and need not provide any additional information. This triggers notification to the NICS database that the respondent is now a prohibited person. Red flag laws do not permit the respondent to voluntarily and privately relinquish their guns once confronted. Instead, after two weeks of the seizure of their firearms and without mandatory counsel, a hearing is held to determine whether the guns should be returned or held for an additional 180 days.

Perhaps the greatest distinction between red flag laws and civil commitment is that civil commitment provides treatment under the doctrine of parens patriae—the State as parent to those who are in need of protection or care. The deprivation of rights that accompanies civil commitment is balanced against the need for that deprivation along with the treatment available to remediate the condition that led to the action in the first place.

Red Flag laws provide the respondent nothing: not counsel, not professional examination, and no intervention intended to restore the rights taken from them.  The importance of this divergence cannot be overstated. The courts have consistently held that intended purpose of civil commitment laws—provision of treatment—balances any up-front procedural deficiencies:

“The judicial approval of involuntary commitment rests upon the assumption that the state is pursuing beneficent purposes for the general society and for the person committed.”

Grafting procedural due process on to Red Flag laws does not rehabilitate them in the slightest.  Consider a pop culture analogy, Agent Smith’s interrogation of Neo in The Matrix. Just apprehended and facing a host of charges, Neo replies to Smith’s litany of allegations by saying “You can’t scare me with this Gestapo crap. I know my rights I want my phone call.”  Agent Smith replies, “What good is a phone call, if you’re unable to speak” and he disrupts the Matrix so that Neo cannot speak. In this scene Neo’s procedural rights are preserved—he is offered a phone, counsel, and presumably the opportunity to rebut the charges—but he is rendered unable to use them.

This parallels the problem with Red Flag laws. All the procedural due process in the world—being present for the hearing, confronting your accusers, etc.—does nothing to ensure fairness, decency or respect if the ultimate issue can be decided without the respondent’s participation in a meaningful evaluation or, perhaps even worse, by emotionally charged accusations of feared future violence.

Unfortunately, the fact that Red Flag laws do not function as billed is a feature, not a bug, because they are used as Trojan horses for even more infringement.  Consider Dr. Rosmarin again:

“So in our state of 6.7 million — almost twice that of Connecticut’s — we are petitioning only one-fifth as frequently. In my experience as a forensic psychiatrist, I see two dozen cases meriting petition a year, easily.

“Massachusetts should modify our ERPO law to allow certain categories of licensed clinicians to petition the courts for an extreme risk protection order. Clinicians should be allowed to do so via a downloaded document, such as exists for initiating mental health involuntary commitments. This will allow clinicians to petition the court without leaving their clinical settings.

“Massachusetts should also enact a law that allows certain categories of licensed clinicians to report to the police chief where the patient lives and that the patient should not have gun access. This should be based on a judgment about dangerousness, not mental illness. The disclosure of medical information relating to dangerousness should be as narrow as possible. Something like:

“Chief, this is Dr. Rosmarin. In my opinion this person is dangerous and should not have a gun.

“The chief would then have discretion to interview the owner, revoke the license and to seize any guns.”

Are gun owners content with the idea that their clinicians can petition law enforcement online after determining them to be “dangerous”?  Will the police chief be more likely to phone the respondent for an interview, or conduct a no-knock raid out of “an abundance of caution” and a desire to “err on the side of public safety”?

Let’s put all this in the context of the events surrounding the Virginia Citizens Defense League’s annual Lobby Day.  I was pleased to be able to speak directly with my Delegate and Senator before attending the rally. I was too late to enter the fenced in, gun-free Capitol grounds, as 10,000 attendees were already there by 9:30 am, so I participated from outside the fence.  I met people from all walks of life, all ethnic backgrounds and all political persuasions, who were united in advocating for their inalienable Second Amendment rights.

Many openly carried the guns that our Governor seeks to prohibit. Despite the presence of all those guns, there was no violence. The Governor insisted that he and law enforcement “diffused a volatile situation” but the attendees were never “volatile.”  Criminals, not lawful gun owners, are the problem, and we were shocked that every real crime bill was left tabled in committee. This is an unconscionable response to the criminal homicide problem that exists in inner cities related to gangs and drugs.

The Virginia House of Delegates must recognize reality about Red Flag laws, and direct their efforts instead towards mental health and crime.  Red Flag laws address neither, and are an affront to the constitutions of our Commonwealth and our nation, and to the inalienable rights these governments exist to protect.

.

 

Florida County Leads State In Red Flag Orders, Illustrates Issues

H/T Bearing Arms.

Volusia County Florida illustrates the problems and dangers of Red Flag Laws.

How long before people start dying in Volusia County?

One of the problems I have with red flag laws is how their use gets turned around and used to justify their existence. There’s almost never any real way to study whether guns are taken from people who represent actual threats and whether they’re taken from people for a multitude of other reasons that have nothing to do with actual danger to others.

Down in Florida, Volusia County has seized more guns than anywhere else, and it illustrates the problems with the red flag laws.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office has filed 160 risk protection orders since the red flag law took effect in March 2018 allowing police to temporarily seize and hold firearms from people who are considered a threat to themselves or others.

That’s nearly 2 ½ times the number risk protection orders filed by sheriff’s offices in the neighboring counties of Flagler, Orange, Seminole, Brevard and Lake. The other agencies combined had filed 66 risk protection orders based on the most recent figures available.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office’s risk protection orders, called RPOs for short, describe the often-chaotic situations that lead authorities to take the firearms: A man upset about a divorce shoots himself with a shotgun and survives; a husband threatening to shoot a wife during an argument; two neighbors getting into a gunfight in Deltona after one neighbor’s child uses the other’s backyard fence as a backboard for pitching practice.

Advocates of the law say risk protection orders save lives. Opponents say many of the cases are simply government overreach.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said there was no particular reason why his agency was filing significantly more such orders than others in the region.

“I don’t care about what any other county does,” Chitwood said. “Our deputies are well trained. We have a model policy. The Sheriff’s Office does not randomly seize firearms. We follow the law. It’s reviewed by our legal counsel and then it goes to a judge.”

At the end of the day, all we have to go on is the sheriff’s word that his department and his county is doing it right.

Of course, Sheriff Chitwood is going to defend his deputies. What else would he say? That his deputies are quick to trample on the civil liberties of ordinary Americans?

Yet also take their examples. They’re quick to point out a handful of examples that look very clearcut, but let’s be honest. Any county is going to have those. The individual instances might be unique, but the severity isn’t.

Those are only a handful of the 160 red flag orders filed, and those aren’t the truly alarming ones. While they’re all problematic–after all, if two guys had a gun battle, why weren’t they locked up rather than having their guns taken away?–they also represent many cases where it’s understandable someone would seek a red flag order. Yet what about the others?

Volusia County may not be doing anything particularly sneaky or underhanded regarding their use of red flag laws, but the fact that Chitwood doesn’t understand why his county is so much higher than everyone else’s illustrates how the complete lack of real oversight only helps these orders be used whenever a department wants.

Chitwood doesn’t know why his county is so much higher than everywhere else’s because he doesn’t have any reason to care.

How many of those 160 people were an actual threat? How few of them broke any law only to see their guns taken away? In fact, how many of them were on the receiving end of such an order because a family member viewed them as a threat because of a political opinion that had nothing to do with violence?

I’m sorry, but this stupidity needs to end. Red flag orders need to die.

Swalwell ‘Guilty’ Charge Unintentionally, Exposes Absurdity of Red Flag Laws

H/TAmmoLand.

Just think this mental midget wanted to be President.

U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)-“We can only conclude that you’re guilty,’” Rep. Eric Swalwell told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Tuesday, Fox News reports. He was trying to exploit President Donald Trump’s refusal to buckle to Democrat demands on impeachment documents and witnesses.

“In America, innocent men do not hide and conceal evidence,” Swalwell pressed on. “They are forthcoming and they want to cooperate and the president is acting like a very guilty person right now.”

“I believe the Fifth Amendment was just repealed on live television,” Ben Williamson, communications director for Rep. Mark Meadows, tweeted in response.

Innocent men don’t serve themselves up to ruthless prosecutors as a matter of basic justice. We don’t give them or the police ammunition to use against us, and to detour for a moment, if you have not seen “Don’t Talk to the Police,” featuring Professor James Duane, reserve 45 minutes to watch it soon.

Evidently Swalwell would repeal the Fourth Amendment as well if he had his druthers. Otherwise, why would innocent men require a warrant for police to search their homes?

Our entire adversarial legal system is based on the burden of proof being on the state and defendants having a presumption of innocence. Up until Opposite Day “progressives” started insanely turning things on their heads, the American standard was “Innocent until proven guilty.”

And Swalwell’s major league baseball player refusing a drug test analogy also falls flat. Most jobs these days, to the discredit of Americans for allowing things to devolve this way, require peeing in the cup and other surrendered invasions of privacy and dignity. Still, those are private contractual agreements either party is free to walk away from without fear of self-incrimination and prosecution by the government.

It figures Swalwell, a power freak with contempt for the Second Amendment, would view other Bill of Rights protections as impediments to getting the control he hungers for. Then again, we’re talking about a monster who advocated the government deploy against American gun owners with nuclear weapons—until he backtracked and claimed he was just making a point.

That’s some point, especially when you consider how many innocents would become “collateral damage” in an act of monstrous evil that only a genocidal maniac would “suggest.” Hence, we retain the right to keep and bear arms as the ultimate last resort safeguard of the people against tyrannical madmen. And knowing we will not surrender that power drives them howling nuts.

Still, concluding someone is guilty before they have been proven so beyond a reasonable doubt is the shaky foundation upon which the whole “red flag law” house of cards has been erected. And President Trump himself should be having a “hoist on his own petard” moment when his own words about that are thrown back at him:

“Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

Lewis Carroll’s classic “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” said it best:

“‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first — verdict afterwards.’”

Once upon a time, even a child understood the evil absurdity of that. Seeing the enactment of such edicts now being touted as “commonsense” by Mad Hatters with political power shows us we truly have gone down the rabbit hole and through the looking-glass.

Nevada Group Seeks To Block Red Flag Law Enactment

H/T Bearing Arms.

I hope that NevadansCAN can block this Dangerous Red Flag Law.

The state of Nevada tends to be a fairly pro-gun place, but they’re also dominated by Las Vegas. Larger urban centers tend to be less tolerant of the Second Amendment in general, but Las Vegas probably has more reason to be that way than most cities. After all, the most deadly mass shooting in modern American history happened there.

Believe me, I get it.

Yet that doesn’t excuse anti-gun sentiment.

Since Las Vegas, though, the state has taken a relatively anti-gun position. One of the measures they’ve passed is a red flag law.

Now, a group is seeking to block it from going into effect.

A group known as “NevadansCAN” is working to block the enactment of Nevada’s Red Flag law which is set to take effect in January, 2020.

“The law itself is very unconstitutional on many bases, not just the second amendment,” said Julie Hereford.

Their latest mission is Assembly Bill 291 which is now known as the Red Flag law. NevadansCAN filed an injunction to block the implementation of the newly adopted law.

It’s goal is to prevent gun violence. Here’s how it works: a judge reviews an application sent in by police or family members about a person’s potentially threatening behavior. A hearing is held within seven days of the initial order being issued. If a judge decides they are a threat, that person’s weapons could be taken away from them for up to one year.

Hereford and Rooney said the law is unconstitutional because the decision comes down to a single judge, not a jury.

“It eliminates the presumption of innocence. Any person who is served with an emergency protection order is immediately suspected to be guilty and its up to them to somehow clear their name,” said Rooney.

More than that, though, the judge in question never actually talks to the individual being discussed. He simply makes a ruling based on comments from a third party. The individual doesn’t get to face their accuser or have any real say in their defense.

I’m sorry, but there are no possible excuses for such a horrible breach in due process.

Now, the question is, will NevadaCAN be successful?

Honestly, I don’t know. I’m skeptical of them actually being able to successfully block the red flag law, but that may also be my own cynicism creeping in. While I agree with the constitutional arguments they present, I also have seen little out of the courts in that part of the nation to suggest they’ll be open to this kind of thing.

I’d love to be wrong here, but I have to call them as I see them.

Still, even if they lose the initial stages, this may well set the groundwork for a Supreme Court challenge. While SCOTUS often tries to balance the Constitution with “public interest,” I’m not inclined to think they’d like such a breach of due process go unchecked. After all, taking away someone’s guns over third-party opinions could easily expand to other constitutionally-protected rights.

Regardless, this is going to be one case we all need to keep our eyes on. A successful challenge could open up possibilities in plenty of other states.

Colorado’s “Red Flag” Gun Seizure Law, Is A Disaster In The Making

H/T Bearing Arms.

How many Colorado LEO’s will actually enforce this confusing and dangerous law?

In less than a month, Colorado’s “red flag” law takes effect, but some critical questions still remain about how the law is supposed to be enforced, and whether or not many county sheriffs will even attempt enforcement in the first place.

The Colorado Sun reports that the Colorado Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, or POST, has released six pages of guidance for law enforcement agencies across the state on how to “accept, store, and return guns seized under the law”, but the guidance is lacking one critical piece of information: what law enforcement is supposed to do if individuals subject to a red flag order don’t surrender their firearms.

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office, which houses the POST Board, says language in the red flag law limited the panel to forming a model policy for only those three parts of the legislation.

“It’s up to each law enforcement agency to determine how to respond to an individual who refuses to surrender a firearm,” said Lawrence Pacheco, a spokesman for Attorney General Phil Weiser. “It would likely depend on the factors of each case and available resources.”

The model policy is just a suggestion, and there’s no requirement that law enforcement agencies actually follow it. In fact, several sheriff’s offices have already come up with their own procedures for how their deputies are to use the law.

But the lack of a roadmap on the crucial — and potentially deadly — question of what to do when someone refuses to hand over their guns underscores broader law enforcement unknowns around the complicated new law.

According to the Sun, under the model policy promulgated by POST, law enforcement agencies that file a red flag order are supposed to seek a search warrant once the order has been issued, but if family members or non-law enforcement start the process, there may not be a search warrant issued along with the order, though law enforcement is still supposed to somehow seize the guns belonging to the subject of the restraining order. Even sheriffs who support the new “red flag” law say it’s a complicated process.

Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock, one of the law’s main proponents, said his office’s policy requires deputies to obtain a search warrant if an ERPO is issued stemming from a seizure request not made by law enforcement. He acknowledged that it was difficult to find the right approach and to decipher what was allowed under the law, but he said it is possible for police agencies to figure it out if they put their minds to it.

“I would say it’s very complicated,” Spurlock said. “It requires you to jump through a bunch of hoops.”

Other sheriffs in the state aren’t so sure that law enforcement even has the authority to seize firearms once a “red flag” order’s been issued by a judge.

Fremont County Sheriff Allen Cooper, who opposed the law, said Monday that while he hadn’t gone over the POST guidance, he questions whether law enforcement could even act if someone refused to comply with an order to surrender their guns.

“This is a civil protection order, not a criminal protection order,” he said. “If somebody refuses, my understanding of the civil process is that I can’t force the issue. This is one of those issues where, unfortunately, I think we’re going to have to have a court case to have a lot of these questions answered.”

I suspect that Sheriff Cooper is correct, and we’ll be seeing a lawsuit filed soon after the law takes effect in January. One thing is clear even now though; the legislators who wrote the law had absolutely no idea how it should or could be enforced. Their job was to make the law, not enforce it, and they passed the problems with the “red flag” legislation along to the state’s sheriffs and police to figure out for themselves.