Having been largely stymied on the federal level, anti-gun Democrats — and a few moderate Republicans — have increasingly embraced a relatively new tactic to undermine the Second Amendment and impose confiscatory gun control measures on the state and local level.
Those particular measures are known as “red flag” laws, or gun violence restraining orders, which permit law enforcement officials to act upon petition-requested, court-ordered confiscations of legally-possessed firearms owned by an individual that close family members or law enforcement officers fear may present a danger to themselves or others in the near future.
While that may sound reasonable on the surface to some — nobody wants dangerous people who pose a threat to others to possess guns — the reality is that such laws are ripe for ideological abuse against law-abiding individuals by both family members and legal authorities.
Furthermore, those laws all but trample the fundamental notion of due process and presumption of innocence in that an individual’s firearms are confiscated prior to there being a hearing on the matter in which the subject is permitted to defend themselves.
California is a state that has already had such a “red flag” law in existence for several years, but new legislation would significantly expand who is permitted to file a gun violence restraining order against somebody.
This could open the door to the eventual implementation of a Soviet-era, KGB-style program in which supposed associates, friends, and neighbors spy on each other and tattle to the government about those who aren’t in perfectly line with the accepted party politics of the ruling regime — in this case, gun owners and Second Amendment advocates.
The expansion was introduced into the California legislature as an amendment to the existing gun violence restraining order law and was dubbed AB-61. That bill was passed out of the Assembly by a vote of 54-17 on May 6 and now awaits action in the Democratic-controlled state Senate.
As the law already existed, close family members and law enforcement officials were permitted to submit a petition to the court to have an individual’s lawfully-owned firearms confiscated for up to 21 days if it was believed that they posed a threat of imminent harm to themselves or others.
The law further allowed for petitioners and the court to extend the confiscatory period up to one year, if deemed necessary, and also allowed for a renewal of the initial “ex parte” petition and order for an additional 21-day period within three months of that initial order’s expiration.
Aside from some grammatical changes to the existing law’s wording, the amendment expanded the pool of who was deemed authorized by the state to submit the GVRO petitions.
That pool now includes a subject’s employers, co-workers, and employees and teachers of secondary and post-secondary schools.
How soon before this law is amended and expanded yet again, next time giving friends, neighbors, or even minor acquaintances the ability to turn in gun owners they don’t like or fear to state authorities? That question isn’t that far out of the realm of possibility.
There were some minor stipulations to those additions, such as a requirement that petition-filing co-workers be in close or regular contact with the subject of the petition for at least one year.
Additionally, school teachers and employees who wish to file such petitions will have to first obtain administrative approval from the school, and the subject has to have been in attendance at the school for at least six months.
Those purported protections are cold comfort, however, for the lawful gun owner in California who may happen to work with fervently anti-gun co-workers, or for those who attend — or whose children attend — a high school or university that employs similarly-minded anti-gun individuals.
To be sure, the mere filing of a GVRO petition doesn’t automatically mean one of the confiscatory orders will be granted.
Given the plethora of liberal activist judges in the judiciary system, however, it isn’t hard to imagine that at least some of those judges hold anti-Second Amendment views and would be perfectly happy issuing the orders while allowing the dust to settle afterward, once the firearms had already been confiscated.
What is happening in California with this “red flag” law is truly frightening in an Orwellian, Soviet-style big government sort of way, and what makes it even worse is that other states are looking to California as a model for their own anti-gun legislative efforts.
It remains to be seen if Democrat-controlled California will proceed with the proposed expansion of its “red flag” laws — and whether the higher courts will allow such laws to stand.
But one thing that is abundantly clear is that, at least in terms of California, gun owners are increasingly being targeted by the government for disparate treatment for ideological reasons.
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