Second Amendment advocates are sounding alarm bells over the expansion of “Red Flag” laws in the aftermath of the deadly Waco and Dayton mass shootings.
Under pressure from Democratic lawmakers, the president has urged all states to adopt Red Flag laws, which give friends, family members, medical professionals, and law enforcement the power to swiftly obtain court orders from a judge to confiscate firearms from law-abiding Americans who have committed no crimes. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have Red Flag legislation on the books and have used the controversial law to seize 145 legally owned firearms this year, leaving a Florida man shot dead after police kicked in his door with guns blazing. His only crime was field-stripping a rifle on his kitchen table in view of a nosy neighbor.
Speaking from the White House Diplomatic Room on Tuesday, President Trump said all states must adopt red flag laws to “make sure those judged to pose a risk to public safety do not have access to firearms and that if they do those firearms can be taken through rapid due process.”
While the president may have good intentions, history has shown that unscrupulous people can capriciously scream “Red Flag” for myriad reasons: Under the auspices of Red Flag, people have had weapons seized for yelling at a spouse, failing to report for Jury Duty, having a DUI or moving violation on a driving record, refusing to identify one’s self when asked by police at a traffic stop, and drinking alcohol in the comfort of their own homes, among other things.
The president on Wednesday doubled down on his support for Red Flag laws after six police officers took fire while attempting to serve a high risk narcotics warrant in north Philadelphia.
In response to the president’s statements, some of his most diehard supporters warned of constitutional concerns and of political ramifications.
“This might be Donald Trump’s ‘read my lips’ moment,” said Michael Hammond, legislative counsel for Gun Owners of America (GOA). “If he basically tries to dismantle the Second Amendment community, he’s going to be a one-termer. I firmly believe that.”
Trump, who has insisted he is the strongest pro-Second Amendment president in American history, even drew scathing criticism from House Republicans.
Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, a member of the House Liberty Caucus, tagged the president in a tweet voicing his concerns, writing, “If @realDonaldTrump signs a red flag law, it’s likely to consist of taxpayer funded bribes to the states to adopt red flag laws. Ask your state rep and state senator where they stand.”
“If you give up your principles to win an election, you’ve already lost before the first vote is cast. Red Flag laws violate due process and the 2nd Amendment,” Massie also tweeted.
And a White House source speaking under condition of anonymity said the President is mulling over the idea of signing Executive Orders to enforce Red Flag compliance, using Washington D.C.’s guidelines as a template, unless lawmakers across the nation draft and enact their own agendas quickly.
In closing, this isn’t the first time the president’s appetite to grab guns has raised concerns. In the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, he attended a round table at which he agreed with Nancy Pelosi that the government should have the authority to confiscate guns first and then worry about due process.
If history has taught us one fact, it’s that criminals and people with malicious intent will always have access to firearms, legal or otherwise, and that adding needless red tape and expanding background checks, many of which already involve FBI approval, will prevent decent individuals from protecting themselves and loved ones against threats to life, liberty, and property.