What Happens If a Red Flag Law is Used Against You? Guns Are Seized, Then What?

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What Happens If a Red Flag Law is Used Against You?  Guns Are Seized, Then What?
(U.S. LawShield)

Can you imagine a judge signing an order allowing police to seize your firearms—even though you haven’t broken a single law?

There has been a nationwide push for “extreme risk protective orders” or “red flag” laws in recent years. Most notably, when announcing executive orders on gun control, President Biden called for a national red flag “model” law and for the federal government to use its purse strings to encourage all states to adopt such laws.

These laws are written to remove firearms from people who’ve been accused of conduct or language that may be seen as “dangerous.” What do you need to know about these orders from a legal perspective? Could they really be used to take away your Second Amendment rights? If a red flag order is served on you, what should you do?

First, you need to understand the history of these laws and how you can take preemptive action to make sure you retain your right to bear arms.

How did red flag laws start?

Red flag laws entered prominent national discourse in 1999 when Connecticut passed the first of its kind because of a mass shooting at the Connecticut Lottery headquarters. Lawmakers in Connecticut intended for this law to target individuals with specific mental health conditions and prevent them from accessing firearms.

More recently, on February 14, 2018, a 19-year-old former student opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, horrifically killing 17 people and injuring 17 others. There was an immediate national outcry to “do something” to stop what the media has frequently dubbed “gun violence.” When information emerged that the shooter had documented mental health issues, lawmakers across the country began pushing for laws to take away guns from individuals whose behavior raised a “red flag” that they could be a threat to themselves or others.

In theory, the purpose of these laws is to identify an individual who exhibits early warning signs of danger and prevent a criminal act from occurring by preemptively disarming them.

SEE ALSO: Lawmakers Seek to Outlaw Production of Modern Sporting Rifles in Massachusetts

However, there’s an obvious irony: with red flag legal proceedings, the person’s firearms are seized, but the individual may be quickly released back into society, free to pursue whatever misdeeds they might choose.

Red flag laws generally begin with an “ex parte” court order (meaning the subject of the order isn’t notified of the proceeding or given an opportunity to respond) that prevents the person from owning, possessing, or transporting firearms and ammunition for a specified period of time. Most jurisdictions also allow for the extension of these orders for months or years if the affected individual is “deemed a threat” after an opportunity for a hearing.

What could happen if a red flag law is used against you?

Let’s imagine that every state in the country enacts a red flag law similar to California’s, called a “Gun Violence Restraining Order.” That law says you could be prohibited from owning, purchasing, possessing, or transporting firearms and ammunition for between one and five years.

And that order could be renewed and extended indefinitely. California Penal Code §§ 18170-18197 lays out the process by which any qualifying person can ask to extend the red flag order within three months of its expiration. The order will be extended if the court finds that you still pose a significant danger of causing personal injury to yourself or another by controlling, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm, ammunition, or magazine, and all other conditions for renewal are satisfied.

In this hypothetical scenario, you could petition the court once per year—but not more than that—to ask for it to be lifted. But even one petition a year would entail another costly and time-consuming legal proceeding, with no guarantee of success.

As of this article’s publish date, 19 states and the District of Columbia have enacted versions of red flag laws. The federal government may entice many other states to follow suit over the coming months or years. Who knows what could happen in the future?

These uncertainties make the Legal Defense for Self-Defense Program from U.S. LawShield so necessary. In today’s complicated legal system, having an attorney knowledgeable in your state’s gun laws just one phone call away can help ease such worries. U.S. LawShield is the premier program that provides a proactive, attorney-based, education-focused approach to making sure law-abiding gun owners can have true peace of mind.

For more information on how to protect yourself, join U.S. LawShield today!

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  • Kevin July 29, 2023, 2:47 pm

    In Illinois, it takes nothing more then a doctor’s note, with no trial being available. I applied for my FOID, and found out that I had a 5 year revocation of rights for a “Voluntary Hospital Admission”. They then stated, I could give them every medical record I had from my entire life, for consideration of an appeal, which is only able to be undergone by the ISP. Which of course, is a violation of the 4th and 5th amendments. There is a 5 year unlimited search, with electronic, and physical property. Another 4th amendment violation. No trial, which is another 2-3 violations. Discrimination of people with a mental health diagnosis. My right to freely talk to a physician, a 1st amendment violation. 2nd amendment violation of course. The whole thing is riddled with unconstitutional muster…. And since the FBI takes the records without trial.. NICS is also in violation for taking documentation not supported by any judicial oversight. It’s a HIPPA violation, as the hospital is not allowed to give your medical records to anyone. And with the Dems fired up to keep it all in play the way it is… Trying to combat the concept, makes you a target for the anti-gun tweebs, which in my case, results in a lot of what I would call politically sponsored domestic terrorism. It amazes me how people who claim to be civil rights activists, have failed so badly. They protest anti-police rhetoric, then turn around and try to blame those who participate in mental health services as the reason for their issues. Meanwhile, driving the avoidance for mental health, by threatening legal recourse for talking to medical professionals. They use Cremo’s case as an example, but despite his 1 run in with the law, no one who has hopes of keeping their rights in Illinois, would be foolish enough to partake in mental health services. There already is a system where you have a trial involving a state sponsored institution. There are 7 board certified doctors, you become a ward of the state, and then you loose your rights forever. If anyone was that dangerous, 5 years is only a temporary ban, but Illinois tries to use it to save money, by bypassing court costs, and proper scrutiny that is involved with the trials involving state institutionalization. They have a hard time understanding the realities behind neurological defects. Which many people from Einstine to Tesla had specified neurological make ups. Einstine had an overgrown frontal lobe. Tesla had OCD badly. Einstine couldn’t tie his shoes. Tesla an ocward social recluse. But they seem to think in large that mental health = Violent and homicidal ideation. It’s very hard to make them understand, that neurological specificities can be present which constitute a diagnosis, but does not ensure either violent behaviors, or incompetence…. Of course, I have my crossbow in my room, which is what Illinois’ pushes, as hunting with a fire-arm is nearly illegal. But if I was dangerous… Despite my life time of probably 10 guns, and currently owning a relatively equivalent projectile weapon… wouldn’t I have done something to another person by the age of nearly 40…

  • m June 25, 2021, 4:21 am

    huh…Just if a person trully wants to kill another person or self taking their guns is NOT gonna stop’em….they do it some other way or just buy a gun on the blackmarket….!

    Yes an open threat of “murder” of another should be investigated tho not a “rumor” by a trouble maker only a sworn statement to which penalty of Perjury apply’s…!

  • Bill May 1, 2021, 10:45 pm

    Exactly How would Texas Law Shoeld help protect us against Red Flag Laws?

  • Shanz April 30, 2021, 7:29 pm

    I’m so fucking sick of this shit. Didn’t we used to hate Commies?

  • Jon April 30, 2021, 6:41 pm

    Quit simple. If I know I’ve done nothing wrong my weapons will stay where they are.these laws are a blatant violation of the constitution and due process. They are welcome to try to remove them, however they will be considered home invaders and force will be used to repell them. I promise this will end badly for new criminals at my door.

  • Benjamin E Luera April 30, 2021, 4:28 pm

    All it takes is a call from an angry ex-wife, husband or neighbor to take your rights away without due process. This is the most vicious anti-gun law passed.

    • Walleye May 1, 2021, 2:43 pm

      … or a call from an angry mother in law, father in law, sister or brother, coworker, boss, employee, business competitor, daughter’s boyfriend, son’s girlfriend, political rival or opponent. The list of people who could abuse red flag laws is endless. If someone is a bad apple, have them legally adjucated. Until then, keep your hands of my thunder sticks.

    • Ron May 1, 2021, 11:40 pm

      BEN, YOU ARE SO RIGHT , IT HAS HAPPEN HERE IN FLORIDA. PISSED OFF EX WIFE CALLED THE POLICE AND SAID HER EX WAS ACTING STRANGE AND DIDN’T WANT THEIR KIDS AROUND HIM. SHE EXPLAINED HE HAD GUNS IN HIS HOME. SO THE POLICE GOT A RED FLAG ORDER AND WENT TO HIS HOUSE AND HANDCUFFED HIM AND SEIZED ALL HIS GUNS. HE SPENT THE NIGHT IN JAIL AND BONDED OUT THE NEXT DAY. HE WAS TOLD THAT A COMPLAINT WAS ISSUED AND RED FLAG ORDER WAS PLACED ON HIM. HE HAD TO HIRE A LAWYER, GET A PSYCHIATRIC TEST DONE TO PROVE HE WASN’T NUTS. HE HAD TO GET A LETTER FROM HIS PASTOR FROM HIS CHURCH STATING HE IS OF GOOD MORAL CHARACTER. COURT COSTS AND A YEAR LATER HE GOT HIS GUNS BACK. ALL THIS COST HIM ABOUT $7500.00. WAS IT WORTH IT… YES HE PROVED THAT HIS EX WIFE MADE A FALSE POLICE REPORT. POETIC JUSTICE … SHE WENT TO JAIL.

  • Fal Phil April 30, 2021, 12:03 pm

    Waiting on someone to challenge this on constitutional due process grounds.

  • Dexter Winslett April 30, 2021, 11:48 am

    This retired police officer says if they red flag and come to disarm you, act like an American and shoot them. We fight or we lose. Democrats are evil.

    • Shanz April 30, 2021, 7:22 pm

      Thank you sir. You cannot appease evil.

  • Mario Acevedo April 30, 2021, 9:43 am

    US News ran a report from Kaiser Health, of all places, questioning the utility of Red Flag Laws.

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