Red Flag laws, also called Gun Violence Restraining Orders and Extreme Risk Protection Orders, are gun-confiscation laws disguised as “gun-violence prevention” laws that are being pushed hard at both the state and federal levels. VCDL expects to be fighting Red Flag bills in the Virginia General Assembly in 2019.
Red Flag laws are really unconstitutional “prior restraint” laws that violate the protections found in the Bill of Rights, including the:
- Second Amendment (right to keep and bear arms)
- Fourth Amendment (protection against unreasonable search and seizures)
- Fifth Amendment (right to due process, just compensation, self-incrimination) and
- Sixth Amendment (right to confront accusers, cross-examine witnesses, have a public defender)
And all of those violations of the Constitution based solely on an unnamed person’s secret allegation that someone else “might” do something dangerous to themselves or others in the future. The State is supposed to punish those who have broken the law, not those who might break the law.
The person accused of being “dangerous” has not committed a crime and has no notice there is a problem until the police show up, pre-dawn, with guns drawn and confiscate the accused’s firearms. The accused is not given due process to defend himself or herself in court from the accusation for weeks or months after the confiscation. It is up to the accused to prove that he or she is not dangerous! (How do you prove a negative? How do you prove you are not dangerous?) Until such proof is provided to the Court’s satisfaction, the guns are not returned. This could drag on for months, years, or indefinitely!
If a person is “too dangerous” to own a gun, then why is that person left walking around with the rest of us? Can’t that “dangerous” person still commit suicide or harm others if they have the opportunity? The answer to both questions is that Red Flag laws are about confiscating guns, not saving lives.
In Maryland, which recently enacted such a law, two-thirds of the requests for confiscation were deemed frivolous. In other words, most of the requests that were denied were from people wanting to “get even” with someone else by making their lives miserable! But how many frivolous requests got through anyhow?
We do NOT want Red Flag laws in Virginia or anywhere else in America!