Tragic losses of life occurred as a result of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio last week— more than 30 people dead and over 50 injured. Is it coincidence that the two happened within 13 hours of each other? Or that these two events followed a shooting in Gilroy, California a week prior— where 3 people were killed and 13 injured?
I can’t speak with certainty, but copycat crimes are a thing. I wrote about this reality nearly two years ago in the aftermath of the Sutherland Springs church shooting in Texas. Even the FBI warned earlier this week of the possibility of copycat mass shootings to come. A study from four years ago found that not only is there a possibility that mass shootings are “contagious”, but that the media may have a roll in them being so:
“What we found was, in ones that didn’t get a lot of media attention there was no contagion, and in the ones where we did see a lot of media attention, that’s where we saw the contagion.”
As is always the case in the aftermath of tragedies like these, politicians can’t restrain themselves from doing their very best to capitalize on them. Only this time it seems to be significantly compounded by the fact that about 20 Democrats are vying for the opportunity to take on President Trump in the 2020 general election. I’m not sure that all the victims had been identified and the families notified before calls came screaming across the airwaves for more gun control.
And let’s be clear, it’s not just Democrats that are part of the cries. There’s Republicans too. Even President Trump is once again expressing his support for so-called “Red Flag Laws”. It’s an interesting dynamic. Call me skeptical, but if this were a Democrat in office, I believe most Republicans would be pushing back. Unfortunately, it seems too many aren’t so bothered by it when it’s their man that occupies the White House.
In case you’re not familiar with the idea of Red Flag Laws, they’re summed up pretty well by the Gun Owners of America:
“… the red flag concept, would remove firearms from those who have not committed any crime but are thought to be a ‘dangerous behavior risk’ for the future.”
The fact that Red Flag Laws are on the political negotiating table isn’t a surprise at all. It was just short of five months ago that we published an article warning you that the United States Senate Judiciary Committee — chaired by Senator Lindsey Graham (R – South Carolina) — was preparing to hold hearings on gun control legislation and that those hearings would include Red Flag Laws. Graham has been working with Democrats on the idea for some time.
At the state level, gun rights advocates beat down efforts to bring Red Flag Laws to North Dakota during the recent 2019 Legislative Session. While the legislation died on a 17-76 vote in the House, and was spear-headed by a Democrat, 8 of the 10 sponsors on the bill were Republican. It was awful. If you’re interested in watching Rep. Rick Becker (R – District 7) explain just how bad the bill was, you can click here.
There’s a number of reasons we can never support Red Flag Laws of any kind. Here’s some of them:
- We Give Up Important Ground – we can’t cave to gun control advocates in this way without losing hold of an important reality. And that is that gun control laws simply don’t work. If a bad guy wants to harm someone, he’s going to find a way to do it. Supporting Red Flag Laws undermines this reality and relinquishes ground upon which gun rights advocates have stood on for centuries. Give this up and what’s next? Semi-automatics? “High capacity” clips? All in the name of “common sense” and “doing something”.
- They Defy Logic – the premise behind Red Flag Laws is seriously flawed. As previously mentioned, these laws separate the supposed dangerous person from their guns as a means of making themselves and the public safer. Yet, these individuals are still free to roam society. It’s a completely illogical concept.
- Violation of Due Process – remember, Red Flag Laws are not based on the premise that a crime has been committed. As we saw with the proposed law in North Dakota, they’re triggered by others who say a person might be dangerous to themselves or others. As North Dakota’s own Raheem Williams pointed out earlier this year, this is the “perfect setup for a kangaroo court system.” Those who are not guilty of any crime, nor even charged with one, find themselves in the unenviable — and potentially costly — position of having to petition the almighty government to have their gun rights back.
- Unintended Consequences – think about it. If you’re a gun owner, who feels you’re in need of counseling or other mental health needs, how likely are you going to be to seek out that help if it’s even a remote possibility your gun rights could be stripped from you for doing so? I think you know the answer. This is an unintended consequence of implementing well-intentioned — yet arbitrary — Red Flag Laws.
- They Violate Original Intent of the Constitution – under the original intent of the United States Constitution, the federal government was meant to have zero authority when it came to matters relating to what we now call gun control. None. Nada. Zilch. That document is one of enumerated powers. And you’ll find absolutely nothing among the powers granted to the federal government that includes authority over this issue. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. You might be familiar with the phrase “shall not be infringed”.
I do believe there are well-meaning individuals out there supporting Red Flag Laws. These folks have good intentions, are tired of the horrific bloodshed, and simply want to “do something”— while not necessarily believing in other forms of gun control. I get where they’re coming from, though I disagree with their solutions.
On the other hand, I also believe there are those who see these tragedies as an opportunity to advance a much more devious and restrictive gun control agenda. For them, it’s one giant step on the road to meeting their goals and objectives.
What’s far too often lost in this discussion is the reality that people do more good with guns than they do bad. But we don’t see those stories much in the media. Apparently tragedy sells more newspapers, spikes TV viewership, and gets more clicks.
What’s also lacking is consistency. If this is about ending the violence and saving lives, then shouldn’t we also be calling for things like a return to the prohibition of alcohol? I mean, think about the number of deaths each year as a result of drunk driving. In fact, maybe we should eliminate vehicles too.
No, we have a problem, but it isn’t guns. And for all these reasons — and more — we should never support Red Flag Laws.
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