Court-Ordered Gun Seizures Spike Nationally Under Red Flag Laws

(Photo: NRA-ILA)

In Washington, the courts have ordered the seizure of 27 guns from 16 individuals since last July under the states new Extreme Risk Protection Order law.

Under the law, a family member, roommate or the police can file a petition with the court.  If a judge decides a person is a danger to himself or others, he can order police to seize the person’s guns immediately and hold them for one year.  The person from whom the guns are seized does not get a chance to introduce evidence or argument against the seizure until as long as two weeks after the guns have been taken.

What is enough evidence to seize a person’s guns?  In the case of Alexander Mckenzie, a 31-year-old Army veteran being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, it was enough that he had been acting strangely and glaring at customers in a pizza restaurant while lawfully carrying his handgun.

These types of laws, known as “red flag” laws, are being pushed by gun control groups across the United States.  The first red flag law was passed in Connecticut in 1999.  By 2017, five states had the laws on the books.  Then, with the advent of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida in 2018, the number more than doubled.

Currently, Connecticut, Indiana, California, Washington, Oregon, Florida, Vermont, Maryland, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington, D.C. have enacted red flag laws.  The Brady Campaign indicates that at least 30 states are considering them.

The Associated Press estimates that 1,700 orders allowing gun seizures were issued nationally in 2018.  The actual number is likely much higher since the data compiled did not include gun seizures in California.  With more states looking to adopt red flag laws, the number of confiscations will continue to spike.  Gun confiscation is going mainstream.

Proponents of the laws say that they have growing bipartisan support.

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“I think we’re seeing a building consensus in blue states and red states that this is a good way to balance public safety against people’s Second Amendment rights,” said Jaron Lindbaum of Washington Ceasefire.

Even the NRA has had some good things to say about the idea behind the laws.

“This can help prevent violent behavior before it turns into a tragedy,” said Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.

However, the NRA has fought against red flag laws in several states claiming that it is anti-gun and has the potential for abuse.  The NRA’s biggest objection?  The laws do not provide enough due process.

The NRA has identified what it says are the requirements for due process under red flag legislation.  They are:

  • Criminal penalties for those who bring false or frivolous petitions to seize a persons guns under the law.
  • A determination by a judge by clear and convincing evidence that the person poses a significant risk of danger.
  • A requirement that a judge determine whether the person meets the standard for involuntary mental health commitment.
  • If the seizure order is granted, the individual should receive community-based mental health treatment.

“To be effective and constitutional, [the laws] should have strong due process protection and require that the person get treatment,” Cox said.

What are your thoughts on Extreme Risk Protection Orders?  Do you support them?

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About the author: John Thomas is a U.S. Navy veteran, and a former prosecutor and defense attorney with over 20 years of experience in state and federal courts. He has handled everything from traffic tickets to first-degree murder cases and is a long-time supporter of Second Amendment rights and the rights of individuals to defend themselves, their families and their property.

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Clint W. March 1, 2019, 11:12 am

    Write this letter or your version of it to your Representatives, right now it is the only weapon we can use:

    In Germany in the 30’s, people were told to report the whereabouts of their Jewish neighbors. A similar vein of thought is being started when it comes to Americans and those who believe in the Second Amendment. Laws are being passed that are referred to as ‘Red Flag Laws’, which are allowing individuals to report their neighbors, or anyone they suspect may be different because of how they act or what they say, and this report leads to confiscation of any firearms they may own. This then puts the onus on them to retain a lawyer to prove they are not what even an anonymous report claims, to have their firearms returned. This violates the US Constitution on many levels. If the left pursues these avenues of gun control, than any Red Flag Law must include the following:

    – Criminal penalties for those who bring false or frivolous petitions to seize a persons guns under the law.
    – A determination by a judge by clear and convincing evidence that the person poses a significant risk of danger.
    – A requirement that a judge determine whether the person meets the standard for involuntary mental health commitment.
    – If the seizure order is granted, the individual should receive community-based mental health treatment.

    The frenzy over gun control will increase, and it is based on so much false information, false information that is spread by the media who have signed on to this agenda at all costs, as they refuse to present the truth. It is so ironic that the left and the media focuses solely on firearms and the Second Amendment, while they ignore death caused by drugs and alcohol, and even texting while driving. When will the truth be told about anything ever again? Joseph Goebbels lied to the German people through his media because he was told to. The American media lies to us all the time because they want to.

  • Scott Rhodes March 1, 2019, 9:33 am

    So what happens when we start having 3 or 4 Ruby Ridges every week? Because with this law it will happen!!!!
    Why is it if Trump does something they don’t like, the go to court and get it put on hold for the whole Nation, but we don’t do the same when they pass something like this? Where is the NRA and why LEO even go along with this? LEO takes A oath , IF they choose not to follow this oath , Then they get what they get because they would have no mercy on me and my family so I have none for them and theirs.

    LEO is here so show up after a crime and follow up on it ,not to prevent it or be a body guard so they need to do whats right and what they are hired to do!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Andrew February 16, 2019, 12:24 am

    Everybody on this site keeps pissing and moaning about how most of the perpetrators of mass shootings shouldn’t have had a gun in the first place because of blatant mental health issues and then whine when red flag laws are passed to prevent that.
    If we want to keep our 2nd amendment rights, we have to do our best to keep guns out the hands of those who shouldn’t have had them.
    We can’t have it both ways.

    • Alan February 17, 2019, 11:05 am

      So what is your answer to the problem?

      • William Strutz Sr. February 18, 2019, 1:24 pm

        In most cases FBI or the police didn’t follow up or the Fed Gov. didn’t catch the felony when granting gun permit or sale or following up on people’s concerns before a mass murder. law enforcement needs to do their job and follow up . That would stop a large % of the worst murder sprees . We don’t need new laws just need the lazy ass wipes to do their jobs correctly!! Just my 2 cents worth !!

  • Jerry Herndon February 15, 2019, 8:05 pm

    The Red Flags Laws are too one sided. Someone complains to a judge and the next thing you know, cops are knocking on your door. Guilty until proven innocent.

  • john February 15, 2019, 6:28 pm

    In Anne Arundel county Maryland the police have already killed one person as a result of a red flag complaint from the sister in law. ‘ it was just a family thing’ … BUT the guy is still DEAD DEAD DEAD.

  • mike February 15, 2019, 3:56 pm

    We need a law for the gun owner quick. Anyone who has a gun legally is a target.

  • Earl Haehl February 15, 2019, 2:02 pm

    There is no Constitutional Authority to seize weapons without due process. This is a Fifth Amendment issue.

    • minute-man February 16, 2019, 8:28 pm

      I fully agree with you Earl Haehl….

      However, try and tell that to the guy holding that ‘tac’ shotgun under your chin at 4AM.
      It could get really messy. May God dam them all

  • pete February 15, 2019, 12:28 pm

    Thank goodness sane people finally have the ability to point out imminent danger to authorities who now have the ability to do something about it before the next tragedy. Way too many crazies who have managed to not get themselves convicted or committed have guns. We should not be afraid of common sense caution.

    • Robert Terry February 15, 2019, 1:38 pm

      With a little luck, one of your neighbors that doesn’t like you (imagine that)
      will point you out and your house will be ransacked.

    • tsh77769 February 15, 2019, 1:52 pm

      Hello SWATMAN.

    • Justin Sane February 15, 2019, 5:04 pm

      Can’t wait till your mother in law turns you in. Its such a relief knowing brillant people like you are ready to rape people of their Constitutional protections without a due process, merely on the say so of a cop who doesn’t know you or your circumstances or some pissed off relative.

      Would you support the same restrictions on your first amendment rights? How about your 4th and 5th?

      These kinds of creatures walk amongst us. Watch your back at night because with mental processes such as exhibited above the next thing you know they be braying for the killing of the newly born. Oops, I forgot they are all ready doing that.

      Maybe they can start on their federal vacation camps with free showers. For all those “deplorable and irredeemable” people.

      • Goose February 16, 2019, 1:26 am

        Careful what you say out loud

  • alex February 15, 2019, 12:27 pm

    you left out PA.,our great asshole republican leaders were the ones who pushed for this law,not the communist!

  • Capn Stefano February 15, 2019, 12:19 pm

    “Criminal penalties for those who bring false or frivolous petitions to seize a persons guns under the law.”

    Yeah, I’ll eat my best hat when a cop gets any penalty under such a statute

  • Roger E Turner February 15, 2019, 12:13 pm

    IT is a simple, NO!!!!

  • Fred Rochester February 15, 2019, 11:32 am

    Throw due process out the window. Take it to court. It means at any time the police can knock on your door and remove your legally owned firearm. Sad day when the 2A is deliberately ignored.

  • Jack W Patrick February 15, 2019, 11:28 am

    Enough is only enough when we take issues like this to the streets! Like the yellow vest movement in France! But Americans haven\’t got the balls to stand up for their rights, and the Liberal Democrats are well aware of that and are depending on that to be able to disarm the American people!

  • Jack W Patrick February 15, 2019, 11:27 am

    Enough is only enough when we take issues like this to the streets! Like the yellow vest movement in France! But Americans haven’t got the balls to stand up for their rights, and the Liberal Democrats are well aware of that and are depending on that to be able to disarm the American people!

  • Pseudo February 15, 2019, 8:49 am

    So just what happens with criminals, for example gang bangers, thugs in places like Chicago’s Southside, one calls the police claiming they were threatened, but the thug claims to not have any guns. The criminals still win while the law abiding citizen still loses.

    • Fred Rochester February 15, 2019, 11:34 am

      Precisely the point. Go to law abiding citizens, no gun fight. Go to a criminal, you know it’s going to be a gun fight.

  • DW February 15, 2019, 8:31 am

    These Red Flag laws are in most cases completely unconstitutional as they don’t have any protections for the person who is having there firearms confiscated. Without true due process in these situations you are violating ones rights. I think that at some point hopefully in the near future these laws are going to get struck down as unconstitutional by the SCOTUS once someone files a lawsuit who had this done to them. But all in all I disagree with them.

  • Me February 15, 2019, 6:14 am

    Red Flag laws are an easy way for gun-grabbers to confiscate guns from anyone. So far there have been 1700 plus guns taken with out a crime committed, at least one person shot dead by police and in Vermont the person who was going to have his guns stolen by the suspect had his guns confiscated. Red flag laws cannot be anything but unconstitutional.

  • Chad February 15, 2019, 5:32 am

    When is enough finally going to be enough? Aren’t we tired of this already?

    • Jack W Patrick February 15, 2019, 11:26 am

      Enough is only enough when we take issues like this to the streets! Like the yellow vest movement in France! But Americans haven’t got the balls to stand up for their rights, and the Liberal Democrats are well aware of that and are depending on that to be able to disarm the American people!

      • T February 18, 2019, 6:19 pm

        3 times you say this. We can read.

        The left uses the street. This is constitutional, the street is the LAST place we go. This thought might be above 3X though!

  • Dieko February 15, 2019, 3:22 am

    Unconstitutional! Just takes a anti judge too say your unfit etc.

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