This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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The Peaceful Gun Owner is Not a Threat
The United States has a problem with violence. Whether it is guns, bombs, knives, bare hands, acid or any of plethora of methods to impose physical harm on another, we have a serious issue in this country.
Liberals across the country have made it an obsession to take guns away from law-abiding citizens. In all the chatter about gun control, not one liberal politician at the federal level talks about how he or she is going to take gun away from criminals. This is the classic model of tyranny: Find an issue, polarize it, and use that polarization to emotionally force people to give up rights that may be unrelated to the issue. This is what is happening with gun rights, and we are slowly allowing our rights to be taken from us without even a whimper.
One of the most devious tools for attacking lawful gun ownership is the concept of “liberal red flag laws.” I distinguish liberal red flag laws from real red flag laws because the latter have some legitimacy.
Real Vs. Liberal Red Flag Laws
A real red flag law allows law enforcement officers to come to a person’s home to make an arrest or to serve a warrant on someone considered to be a threat to themselves or others. This procedure is reasonable in a very narrow set of circumstances within a civilized society. However, the liberal red flag law model that is being instituted by some states across the nation is neither reasonable nor civilized.
A liberal red flag law is bound to be abused by government and far-Left activists.
Under the liberal red flag law model, an individual can be deprived of his or her right to possess a firearm merely based on the speculation of an anonymous bystander. There are several reasons why this is dangerous.
The juxtaposition of real red flag laws and liberal red flag laws is intentional; if a person opposes the tyrannical application of unsubstantiated law, then Liberal talking heads can argue that the dissenter is being unreasonable because the police are just trying to protect society. The Left fails to recognize that the reason so many people oppose the application of liberal red flag laws is because they undermine some of the core tenants of civilized society guaranteed by the US Constitution.
Bills of Attainder are Unconstitutional
One challenge that I have not heard anyone make about the liberal red flag laws is that they amount to bills of attainder. For those of you who grew up in a world where Social Studies replaced Civics, a bill of attainder is “A legislative act which declares a named person [or class of persons] guilty of a crime” without a trial.
Notable constitutional scholar John Bouvier (1856) explained that “During the revolutionary war, bills of attainder, and [ex] post facto acts of confiscation, were passed to a wide extent. The evils resulting from them, in times of more cool reflection, were discovered to have far outweighed any imagined good.”
Beyond the due process violations discussed below, bills of attainder and ex post facto laws (i.e., retroactive law changes) are dangerous because they are developed by emotion without the deliberation needed to ensure that a citizen’s rights are not impinged upon. In the present political climate, both should be worrisome for any freedom-loving person in the country. Article 1 of the Constitution prohibits bills of attainder and ex post facto laws at the federal level (Section 9) and the state level (Section 10).
With celebrities like Debora Messing calling for Trump supporters to be blacklisted, Antifa thugs attacking little girls in the streets, children and adults being doxed, and even elected officials calling for Trump supporters to be harassed and not allowed to enjoy their life, liberty, or property, the reliance on the measured pace of Congress is a mechanical guarantee that level heads will prevail to protect individual rights. Those who want to take away your legal guns are the same activists who want the government to control every aspect of your life through ill-advised policies such as the Green New Deal.
Due Process Must be Honored
Another clear and present danger to the US stems from how liberal red flag laws ignore due process rights. Every American or any individual within the boundaries of the US and its territories has the right to due process in their person and their property. This means anyone must be served with a warrant (or be caught in the act) for the authorities to legally detain them.
Also, for the authorities to confiscate a person’s property, a judicial process is necessary. With the rise in SWATing — also known as swatting — (a scheme where a person calls the police and falsely accuses someone else of a grievous crime, resulting in the police team bursting into the innocent victim’s house to make an arrest), one has to wonder if liberal red flag laws are just the beginning of a new era of SWATing.
What is even more scary is that a criminal posing as a family member could call the police and accuse a relative of being suicidal. The criminal could then wait until the police take the firearms before breaking into the house to rob/rape/murder the defenseless homeowner. Leaving aside that disturbing scenario, the reason for the Second Amendment is that a government not held in check will become a tyranny, and disarming the people is the the first step in a tyrannical government.
A liberal red flag law is a dangerous tool that is bound to be abused by the government and far-Left activists. This is just as true today as when Bouvier explained it in 1856 and when the Founding Fathers built due process protections and bills of attainder along with ex post facto law bans into the Constitution as alluded to above.
Benjamin Franklin once said that “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Today, officials who would take away both our liberty and security stand before us, urging that the price of safety is to be defenseless.
These are the selfsame progressives who accuse soldiers of being murderers, police of being abusers, and the president of the United States of being a dictator. We are a truly fee society as a result of being armed (if we so choose) and allowing our neighbors to be armed as provided for in the Constitution.
Real Red Flag Laws Can Be Implemented Reasonably
How can this be a learning experience? Red flag laws do work. When someone is suicidal, let the police or medical professionals detain the person for a period of time to investigate or administer the proper care. When there is domestic violence, the police should arrest the abuser (or abusers) and let the facts come out in court. When there is a credible threat made by a person, investigate that credible threat. For those who are lawfully convicted in a court of law or committed to a healthcare facility, take their weapons away from them.
If a suspect who is awaiting trial is too much of a threat to own firearms in their home, that person is too much of a threat to be allowed out on bail or bond. Red flag laws should concentrate on individual behavior and not on items someone owns. This will allow at-risk persons to receive the treatment they need, communities to enjoy the safety they deserve, and criminals who boast about their heinous acts before they take place to be arrested.
All of this can be done without giving up our essential liberties in exchange for fleeting safety. Contact your US senator and US House representative and let them know that you support real reform. This means enacting laws that deal with actors who are a danger to themselves or others rather than focusing on an object that is only as dangerous as the person using it.
Dr. Christopher Smithmyer is a writer for NRN, the Vice President of International Affairs at Brav Online Conflict Management, and an Adjunct Professor of MBA Business at Doane University. He is also part of the founding team at BlackWalletLTD, one of the leaders in stable coin 2.0 ecosystem maintenance. Dr. Smithmyer’s focus is international business and finance, along with reviews of board games, weapons platforms, and survival items.