Red Flags or Red Coats

Before COVID-19 was spreading throughout the world, trendy point of discussion was gun control. One gun control measure that was making its way through the ranks on both sides of the aisle is red flag laws. Since 2018 12 states have implemented red flag laws, bringing the total number of states with red flag laws to 17.

What are red flag laws? According to the New York Times “They are state laws that authorize courts to issue a special type of protection order, allowing the police to temporarily confiscate firearms from people who are deemed by a judge to be a danger to themselves or to others.” In other words if someone calls the police and reports a gun owner as possibly not being mentally fit to own a firearm, a judge can issue a warrant allowing police to take the guns away from that individual before any sort of hearing or proof of guilt.

On March 1, 2018 President Trump said “take the firearms first and then go to court.” He continued on saying “I like to take the guns early” and again reiterated by saying “take the guns first, due process second.” Not only is this a violation of the second amendment but also a violation of the fourth and fifth amendment.

Think about that, taking an individuals right away before any sort of trial. The police, using threat of force, to take away an individuals right to protect him/her self because there is an unsubstantiated claim that someone may not be mentally fit to own a firearm. Not even that there is an immediate threat of danger, just that an individual may not be mentally fit.

Who determines who is mentally fit and what does it mean to be mentally fit? Does someone with Autism not have the right to own a firearm? Does someone with dyslexia not have the right to own a firearm? Does someone with anxiety or depression not have the right to own a firearm? This adds violating an individuals right to privacy of their medical history.

Red flag warrants are issued “ex parte” meaning without the subject person present or even informed. When there is a red flag warrant issued the police conduct a no knock search meaning they come into the house to take the firearms with no warning to the owner, not even knocking to let them know of the search.

These red flag warrants are responsible for more deaths than all members of the NRA.

On November 5th, 2018 a red flag warrant was issued against Gary J. Willis, a 60 year old man. According to “The Baltimore Sun,” Willis answered the door to the police at 5:00 am. The police told him they were issuing a red flag warrant and removing all of the firearms that he owned. When Willis heard about the red flag warrant he became understandably upset. Willis was shot and killed by one of the police officers while his wife was by herself in the bedroom. Willis has no history of violence or run-ins with the law.

Gary Willis is not the only victim of these laws. Last month 21 year old Duncan Socrates Lemp was killed in his sleep, at 4:30 am, by police issuing a red flag warrant according to a statement from the family attorney. The warrant issued against Duncan does not mention any imminent threat to law enforcement. Police say Duncan confronted them with a rifle but multiple eyewitnesses say otherwise.

Some people on both sides think red flag laws are reasonable. What is reasonable about any random person being able to report someone and have their right to self defense taken away? What is reasonable about someone not being able to defend themselves in a court of law before having their rights taken away? There is nothing reasonable about red flag laws and there is no need for them in the United States of America.

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