“Red Flag Laws”, The Key to Stopping Mass Killings or a Slippery Slope?

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Tragedy, heartache, anger, sorrow, and loss.  But is there really a solution and are Red Flag Laws part of the answer…?

The sign above outside of the El Paso Mall where 22 were killed and dozens more injured, makes the statement, “United We Stand”.  But what are we standing for?  What will bring us together?  What is the root cause of the mass killer pathology?  Do we really believe that politicians can check their biases and political talking points at the door and really dig into the issue?

What are “Red Flag Laws”?

Before you endorse or condemn the proposition of Red Flag Laws, I suggest you go on a streaming service and watch “Minority Report”.  This film was released in 2002 by Steven Spielberg and starred Tom Cruise.  In the movie, there were three people who had “special powers” (Pre-Cogs) that allowed them to predict crimes before they were committed.  The movie has an interesting twist on who was outed to be the next murderer.  Watch it.

The premise of Red Flag Laws is to have society out a person or persons who exhibit behavior that may threaten themselves or others.  A law would allow specific persons, family members, teachers, police or other designated individuals to petition a court to order a temporary removal of weapons from a person or persons who have exhibited threatening behavior.  A judge would make the determination as to whether law enforcement should remove all weapons from the accused.  The time that the weapons would be withheld would be determined the law or by the judge.  During the quarantine period, ostensibly law enforcement or some other group would investigate the legitimacy of the claim against the accused and if the individual is truly a threat to themselves or others.  If not, the weapons would be returned to the accused.

Remember the Patriot Act that gave the FISA courts power to surveil US citizens, without due process, to determine IF the target being surveilled was guilty of anything WITHOUT ANY LEGAL REPRESENTATION!  FISA Abuse is not well documented against the Trump Campaign and Presidency.  Keep this in mind…

Now, I wrote the above generically and did not spell out what kinds of weapons would be included or nor get into a lot of detail controlling the conduct of this “due process” law.  The reason is that Red Flag Laws are not hypothetical and in fact, as of today, 17 States and the District of Columbia have adopted some form of a Red Flag Law!  Did you know that?  The good or bad news is that these State laws differ considerably as to process and extent of enforcement.  

Lets take the 5 primary pieces of a Red Flag Law and look at each of these processes.  When talking about these processes, I’ll use YOU as the accused and that any confiscation order would not only include firearms but explosives, knives, bow and arrows and any other instrument that could be used as a weapon.

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1. Designated Finger Pointers:  So, the idea is that family member of YOURS or other designated people of various capacities would have the power to finger YOU as dangerous to YOURSELF or others.  But, will lawmakers limit this power to YOUR family members, police, or teachers, or will they allow regulators to expand this power to literally the public at large?  Opening this power to point the finger at YOU to the public invites, and I argue encourages, false accusations and taking bullying to a level we have not imagined.

2. Judicial Due Process:  Due Process is the procedure that allows YOU to defend YOURSELF against allegations.  In this case, someone would have fingered YOU as being dangerous to YOURSELF or others.  The next step would be for YOU to go before a judge, State or Federal, and defend YOURSELF for an ACT that YOU have NOT Committed Yet!  Who is going to pay for YOUR legal fees?  

So, what will be the criteria that the Judge will use to determine if YOU are dangerous to YOURSELF or others?  Will the legislation be specific in terms the criteria to determine YOUR level of threat or leave it to the judge to be clairvoyant in determining if YOU will commit an act of violence that has NOT taken place yet?  Is Congress, and arguably, anyone, even be qualified to determine this criteria?  Imagine that YOUR ability to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights would be determined by criteria defined by AOC or Maxine Waters!  

3. Order to Seize:  Assume that the judge thinks YOU are a threat to YOURSELF or others and orders that law enforcement to confiscate your weapons.  I assume that law enforcement would remove all classes of weapons at your primary residence and issue some sort of order prohibiting YOU from acquiring new replacement weapons until it is determined that YOU are not a threat to yourself or others.  How about weapons that are stored by at your family or friends?

4. Order to Assess:  The Law would have to contain designated processes that YOU will be subjected to in order to assess YOUR fitness to possess weaponry.  Ostensibly this would include psychiatric examinations, physical examinations, interviews with YOUR family, friends, employers, co-workers, spouse/girl/boy friends, and other acquaintances YOU have interacted with throughout your life.  YOU may have to surrender all of YOUR social media, email and text Userids/passwords so they could be reviewed as well.  In the end, all of those involved in this process would have a tainted view of YOU and your fitness regardless of the judicial outcome.  

5. Assessment Judgement:  The Law would have to define what the judge would be able to do to YOUR freedom based on YOUR ASSESSMENT.  For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that YOU would be subjected to one of two possible outcomes.  One, that YOU were judged to fit to possess weapons.  Two, that YOU were not judged to be fit to possess weapons.  This latter outcome then turns YOUR life upside down…

5a: Fit Assessment:  The Law would have to specify the conditions, if any, for YOU to possess weapons.  So basically, YOU were accused of potentially being dangerous to YOURSELF or others and found that YOU were not a threat.  In the process, YOU underwent an historical colonoscopy and sunshined YOUR life to everyone you have ever known!   Presumably, you have not had to pay for YOUR defense of a crime that never took place.  A “Fit Assessment” merely means that YOU were potentially accused without cause but “we” had to make sure!  

5b. Unfit Assessment:  The Law would have to specify what actions would be undertaken to make YOU fit to possess weapons or if YOU should ever be allowed to possess weapons.  I suppose that the process would include deep dive psychotherapy, possible pharmaceutical therapy, and whatever else Congress deems to be appropriate to make YOU a fit US citizens.  Could you be incarcerated if your therapy determined that you were a threat to YOURSELF or others?  Could YOU be permanently be banned from possessing all forms of weapons?  Possibly.

Are Red Flag Laws Good or Bad?

YES!  In a perfect world, with unbiased peers and family, unbiased politicians and judges, unbiased physicians and psychiatrists, you may be able to devise a system to prevent future crimes including mass murders.  In an unbiased world!

But, we do not live in an unbiased world.  How long would it be before a political opponent, a business competitor, a social enemy, or someone you don’t even know, accuses their opponent, competitor, enemy, or total stranger of being a danger without any evidence?  Can you really say that this law would not be abused in light of the fact that the FISA Court process was bastardized and turned against a political enemy of the DOJ/FBI!

The subject of another future article will be a discussion of the causal factors of mass murders.  Potential remedial actions and sociological changes that will be needed to eliminate this horrid phenomena.  In the interim, stop and think for yourself when you hear pundits and politicians spew “remedies” to make us all safe.  Always ask, “Would this solution stop mass murders”?  “Is it the instrument or the person”?

PS:  I hate to be a cynic, but I think if we wait 5-10 days, the media and the politicians will have moved on to the next “crisis”.

RD Pierini



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