Sen. Dianne Feinstein reintroduced a federal ‘red flag’ confiscation bill last month.
Per the language of the legislation, it would allow the government to execute an ex parte extreme risk protection order (ERPO) on persons accused of being a danger to themselves or others.
Ex parte means the respondent (or gun owner) is not given a heads-up about the petitioner’s accusations.
Guns are seized first by law enforcement, then a court date is set for the respondent to tell his or her side of the story before the judge.
The onus is on the accused to demonstrate at that hearing that he or she is not a danger to himself/herself or others. The respondent is guilty and deprived of the right to keep and bear arms until proven innocent or until the ERPO expires.
Sen. Feinstein, a California Democrat, contends that red flag laws “save lives.”
“Extreme risk protection orders save lives by keeping guns out of the hands of people who are a threat to themselves or others,” said Senator Feinstein.
“California has shown that these laws work,” she continued. “Our commonsense bill would help more states enact similar laws that respect due process rights while giving families and law enforcement a way to remove guns from dangerous individuals.”
Congressman Salud Carbajal, another California Democrat who backed the bill in the House, also praised it for its “lifesaving” ability.
“As lawmakers, we have a responsibility to honor the victims and survivors of gun violence with action,” said Representative Carbajal in a press release obtained by GunsAmerica. “Extreme risk protection orders have saved lives in California and this legislation will help other states implement this lifesaving policy.”
The notion that ERPOs “save lives” sounds great but the truth about their effectiveness is anything but clear.
Rand Corp. economist Rosanna Smart examined various studies of red flag laws and found “very inconclusive” evidence that they decrease overall firearm suicide or homicide rates.
“I wouldn’t say it’s strongly one way or another,” Smart told KHN.org back in April.
What is clear about red flag laws is that they empower the government to confiscate firearms from individuals not convicted of any crime. What’s also clear is that they do not provide for the seizure of other potentially dangerous items.
Sharp objects, blunt instruments, and automobiles, altogether, kill tens of thousands of people each year (more people than are killed with black rifles by at least an order of magnitude) but under a red flag law, a respondent’s access to these “weapons” remains unrestricted.
So, even when they work as designed, truly dangerous people are not fully disarmed under an ERPO. This, as GunsAmerica pointed out before, makes one wonder if these laws are more about grabbing guns than actually increasing public safety or neutralizing imminent threats to society.
Additional sponsors of Feinstein’s bill in the Senate include: Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
Stay tuned for updates.