Op-Ed: The Case Against Red Flag Laws


If you’ve been holding on to the presumption that gun confiscation will never take place in the United States, it’s time for you to wake up.

Gun confiscation is already here, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. As a result of the passage of red flag laws, 412 guns have been confiscated in Broward County, Florida; nearly 200 have been confiscated in New Jersey and 148 have been confiscated in Maryland — and that’s just the beginning.

For years, leftists have been insisting that they don’t want to take away our firearms, that they just want to implement a few “common sense” gun control laws. But they do want to take away our guns, and the red flag laws are the first step in a long process of doing exactly that.

Red flag laws inherently create opportunities for abuse of power and infringe on the right to bear arms, the right to due process and the right to a speedy and public trial.

Red flag laws allow family members, friends, ex-partners and other acquaintances the right to request confiscation of legally owned firearms from individuals who allegedly pose a danger to themselves or to others. Red flag petitions are filed in court, either online or in person. Once a petition has been filed, a judge reviews the allegations and determines whether the individual in question should have their right and their property seized from them based on hearsay.

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If the judge rules in favor of the accuser, law enforcement officers confiscate the firearms and ammunition of the accused. The accused only receives the notification of the petition filed against them when the police show up to confiscate their belongings, leaving these individuals without any opportunity to refute the claims made against them.

These individuals also lose any previously acquired firearms licenses and are also temporarily precluded from owning or buying other firearms until their case is resolved, which generally takes a year or more.

According to CNN, in Broward County, Florida, “In every single case put before a court, judges approved the petitions on a temporary basis and with rapid speed — more than half on the same day as the petition came in. Final orders were later issued in 87 percent of the cases.”

These are laws ripe for abuse if put in the hands of a judge who leans anti-gun. Moreover, they give unprecedented power to law enforcement to seize citizens’ private property.

Do you think red flag laws are ripe for abuse?

The left is constantly trying to push the message that police officers are corrupt. If those on the left are so frightened of law enforcement abusing their power, wouldn’t they be opposed to giving police officers the authority to search and seize private property?

To be clear, I’m not arguing that red flag laws are without merit. If a deranged maniac is posting pictures of his rifle with the caption “I [want to] shoot people with my AR-15” like the Parkland shooter, then yes, confiscate those guns immediately.

But an overwhelming majority of cases brought forth are in no way similar to incidents like that.

Take for instance Gary Willis, a law-abiding citizen who was killed by a police officer during a 5 a.m. raid because he refused to give up his firearm on the grounds of his Fourth Amendment rights being violated. Willis’ niece, Michele Willis, told reporters that her aunt had requested a protective order against Willis. She also said her uncle “wouldn’t hurt anybody.”

This goes to show that the implementation of red flag laws puts one person’s word against another’s, and denies the accused the ability to defend themselves. It’s an outright violation of the Sixth Amendment, whereby individuals have the right to a quick and speedy trial and the chance to confront the accuser.

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Recently, a warrant was issued for the arrest of a Colorado woman who lied in order to use a red flag law to disarm a man whom she falsely claimed is the father of her son. If someone is willing to lie about who their child’s father is, then what guarantee do we have that they’re not going to lie about other circumstances?

We already know that individuals are falsely accused of committing crimes all the time. That’s the entire purpose of having the Due Process Clause in the Bill of Rights.

If an individual hasn’t been convicted of a crime, they shouldn’t have to spend thousands of dollars and countless hours on end to defend themselves. In criminal cases, the accused has the right to an attorney regardless of whether or not they can afford it, but since red flag laws fall under civil proceedings, the accused has no option but to spend their own money to dispute false claims.

The implementation of red flag laws goes against the very core principles of our justice system. It is time for gun owners and Second Amendment supporters to wake up to the reality of the right to bear arms dwindling before our eyes.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Leyla Pirnie, Senior Director of International Relations at Ropir International, was born and raised in Izmir, Turkey. She speaks four languages and is a Harvard graduate student. In her free time, she volunteers for Daughters of the American Revolution and serves as a board member for Boots for Warriors, an organization that gifts custom, hand-crafted cowboy boots to wounded warriors and first responders.