Guns

Colorado's Growing Second Amendment Sanctuary Movement

What happens when cities and counties have their own ideas about a law that authorizes the seizure of guns from people who are mentally ill?

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The Delta County Board of County Commissioners' work session on March 12, 2019, was standing room only.

Nearly 250 residents had packed into the county building in Western Colorado. Every available chair was filled, and attendees lined the wall elbow-to-elbow. To accommodate the unusually large crowd, county staff opened up a second meeting room and dialed up the internal conference line to broadcast what was being said in the main meeting room. Even with that additional space, attendees spilled out into the adjacent hallways—all attempting to jockey for a better position to listen in on deliberations.

The discussion that generated so much attention in this rural community of 30,568 started 275 miles away, in Denver: House Bill 1177 (H.B.1177), passed by the Colorado House of Representatives just 10 days prior. Officially titled "Extreme Risk Protection Orders" (ERPO), the bill would codify the seizure of firearms from citizens who are a perceived threat to themselves or others with an ex parte civil order.

Commonly referred to as a "red flag law," this type of legislation is part of a state-by-state strategy pushed by gun control activists who were galvanized by the 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Prior to the Parkland shooting, five states had some sort of red flag law on the books; not including H.B. 1177, there are now 14.

Delta County residents showed up to the hearing because they were deeply concerned about the bill's constitutionality. When the Delta County forum opened to public comment, resident after resident beseeched the commissioners to stand up in support of their individual rights to bear arms, private property, and due process. Sporting a shirt with the words "I plead the Second" in military stencil accompanied by the profile of an AR-15, one man standing in the hallway shouted "amen" and "yes, sir," boisterously affirming each petitioner who referenced gun rights. Not one person spoke in support of the bill.

County leadership shared their antipathy toward the legislation. Delta County Sheriff Mark Taylor, who was elected sheriff in 2018 and also served as undersheriff for the previous 16 years, was the first to speak. Visibly and audibly nervous, Taylor read a prepared statement that expressed his own opposition to H.B. 1177.

"I feel that that bill goes beyond, there's no due process as far as enforcing that bill," Taylor says.

After summarizing his main objections—specifically, that the legislation violates the Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments—Taylor requested that the board of commissioners adopt a resolution that designated Delta County as a "Second Amendment Sanctuary County." Taylor received a standing ovation from the audience.

What exactly constitutes "sanctuary" status for law enforcement is a point of contention throughout Colorado. Like Delta County, more than half of Colorado counties have adopted resolutions—some more strident, some more symbolic—explicitly challenging H.B.1177 and implicitly suggesting local law enforcement will not comply with the new law. Several sheriffs—predominately from rural Colorado—have publicly expressed their willingness to go to jail if court-ordered to issue an ERPO. Other sheriffs have said it is not their job to pick and choose the laws that they want to enforce.

The Red Flag Sheriff: Tony Spurlock

On the exact same day as the Delta work session, an entirely different scene was unfolding over 300 miles away in Douglas County. Like Delta, a sheriff stood in front of a large crowd, asking elected county leaders take action in response to red flag bill. This time, however, Sheriff Tony Spurlock was encouraging Douglas County commissioners to vote against a resolution that officially rebukes H.B.1177.

"I told them 'that's kind of silly, guys, don't do that," Spurlock says in an interview after the meeting. "You're going to embarrass yourselves."

Despite Spurlock's protests, Douglas County commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the resolution, making Spurlock the only Colorado sheriff to openly support the red flag law without the backing of his county commissioners.

"I don't have to listen to them," Spurlock says, referencing his county commissioners. "I am an independently elected official, and they are essentially telling me not to enforce the law."

Spurlock doesn't buy the rhetoric of red flag opponents. A self-proclaimed "Second Amendment guy" and "a strong Republican," Spurlock believes that the law is perfectly constitutional, and says he would "put money on it" being upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The argument that there isn't due process is really a joke," Spurlock says. He thinks there is more due process enumerated in this bill than in other ex parte court orders, such as restraining orders or search warrants.

Spurlock also cites the "high bar" of establishing a "clear and convincing" preponderance of the evidence that ERPO petitioners must submit before a judge can an issue an ERPO. (From a legal perspective, a preponderance of evidence, which is the evidentiary standard used in civil court, carries less weight as a legal threshold in comparison to that of reasonable doubt and the burden of proof necessary to for conviction in criminal court.)*

Spurlock's vocal support of ERPOs dates back to the tragic events that unfolded during New Year's Eve in 2017. In response to a nuisance complaint, Douglas County Undersheriff Zackari Parrish III was dispatched to the apartment of Matthew Riehl.

Riehl, a veteran with a long history of documented mental health issues, was behaving erratically according to the officers who showed up at the scene. When police attempted to place him under 72-hour psychiatric monitoring, Riehl began firing a gun at the responding officers from inside his apartment. The 29-year-old Parrish was fatally wounded in the exchange. Riehl wounded three additional officers before police shot and killed him. A judge would later deem Riehl's death to be justified.

Spurlock argues that if police had the ability to seize Riehl's weapons, Parrish would still be alive today.

"We had dealt with [Riehl] for over three months [before Parrish's death]," Spurlock says. "We knew that he had been hospitalized for extreme mental health disorders—bipolar, schizophrenia—he had all kinds of unfortunate mental health disorders. There was no law to restrict him from having access to weapons but also protect his family, the community, and himself."

Since that fateful New Year's Eve, Spurlock has been on the forefront of red flag legislation, openly lobbying in favor of the law. Colorado Democrats welcome the help. After a version of the bill died in committee during the last legislative session, Spurlock was approached by Colorado House Democratic Majority Leader, Rep. Alec Garnett. His party knew they needed law enforcement support, so the new ERPO bill was named the "Deputy Zackari Parrish III Violence Protection Act." Spurlock backed the law without hesitating.

On February 14, 2019—the one-year anniversary of the Parkland shooting—Spurlock joined legislators and gun control activists in a press conference announcing the introduction of H.B.1177. Since then, Spurlock has been a consistent figure in the background for every subsequent press event.

"I knew I was doing the right thing to stand for this," Spurlock says. But not all of Spurlock's constituents agreed. Shortly after the initial press conference, a committee to recall the sheriff formed. The Committee to Recall Tony Spurlock filed paperwork with the Colorado Secretary of State's office on February 22. The paperwork to recall Spurlock cannot be legally filed until six months after he officially took office. Spurlock was sworn into his most recent term on January 8, 2019, which means activists won't be able to start gathering signatures for their recall petitions until July. In the interim, the recall committee has already started gathering financial donations in an effort to build up a war chest come petition time.

In addition to the recall effort, Spurlock's own party abandoned him. As one of the few elected Republicans openly supporting the ERPO law, Spurlock was publicly rebuked by the Douglas County GOP. The county affiliate passed a resolution that not only condemned the red flag legislation—calling it "an excuse to pass gun confiscation legislation"—but also expressed "profound disappointment and disgust with Sheriff Tony Spurlock."

This very same political wave is also inspiring Colorado sheriffs to become more stridently defiant of legislation they deem to be unconstitutional.

The Sanctuary Sheriffs

"If you haven't read the bill, the bill is a train wreck of how the mechanics of it work," says Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams.

Reams isn't a firebrand or a lofty polemicist, but he has nevertheless emerged as a key figure in the growing opposition to Colorado's red flag law. He made national headlines in March when he declared he would go to jail for contempt of court before he served an ERPO.

"That's a sacrifice that I'll be forced to make," Reams told CNN on March 31. When pushed further, he replied simply, "I'm not bluffing."

Like all red flag opponents, Reams believes the law undermines rights protected by the Constitution, which puts him in direct conflict with his sworn oath to defend it.  "I would much rather not be in this situation where I am looking at a law that violates the Constitution," Reams says. "That puts me in a tough predicament."

Reams is also concerned with avoiding legal exposure. The liability of a potential legal challenge will place his office in the crosshairs. A lawsuit would likely target his office, not the court that issued the ERPO or the legislators who passed the bill.

"They would be suing the law enforcement agency that violated their constitutional rights," says Reams. "I'm the one who owns the liability."

Ten other Colorado sheriffs have publicly communicated their refusal to issue an ERPO. As of this writing, over 50 Colorado sheriffs have expressed varying shades of opposition to H.B.1177.

"How many judges are going to send all the sheriffs in Colorado who are standing up to this to jail?" said Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell, who, during an interview with CNN, also stated his intentions to not execute an ERPO within his district.

Most of the enthusiasm for opposing the red flag bill is emanating from Colorado's rural corners. The vast majority of Second Amendment sanctuary counties are located on the western slope of Continental Divide and the eastern plains that border with Kansas.

"Folks out here take their gun rights seriously," Reams says.

From a practical standpoint, many of these counties simply don't have the infrastructure to comply with the red flag law. "If we were to confiscate and hold 20 guns and rifles, that would max out our space," says Delta County Sheriff Mark Taylor.

"Even if the county owned a 10-by-20-foot storage shed, we still wouldn't have enough room to store these folks' guns," says Delta County Commissioner Don Suppes. Like many other Second Amendment sanctuary counties, Delta included language in its resolution denying the allocation of funding for increased capacity related to ERPOs.

The new legislation also presents challenges to the judicial infrastructure of smaller rural counties. Once an ERPO affidavit has been filed, a court hearing must take place within 14 days. Based on its current caseload, the Delta County Combined Court is currently scheduling jury trials at least one year out, according to county officials. To stay in compliance with the new law, ERPO hearings will likely need to "butt in line," placing a greater burden on an already overburdened court system.

As of this publication, 35 of Colorado's 64 counties have officially passed some form of resolution that publicly rebukes the new law. Each resolution is unique in its language. Some resolutions are more strident in their opposition, while others hedge their bets by adopting more moderate stances.

The hesitancy to pass more strongly worded resolutions has everything to do with the loaded meaning of one word: sanctuary.

Sanctuary for Whom?

The Second Amendment sanctuary movement isn't unique to Colorado. County and municipal governments have passed similarly symbolic resolutions in defiance of similarly restrictive gun control laws in Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada, Maryland, and Washington. But the term "sanctuary" is problematic from a legal standpoint because it is a loaded term that lacks universal meaning.

"I don't know what that means," Spurlock says when asked to define the concept. "So everybody gets to have a gun? Felons? The 6-year-old kid? Nobody really can answer what being a Second Amendment sanctuary means."

Some counties outright omitted the word from their resolutions. For example, Delta County adopted the symbolic status of "Second Amendment Preservation County." The omission of "sanctuary" was by design, according to Delta County officials.

"The last thing we wanted to do is to insinuate that a criminal who has committed a crime involving a gun could gain safe haven in Delta," Suppes says. "It's the wrong message."

Appropriating "sanctuary" for the gun rights movement also carries an ironic twist. In modern political parlance, the term is most closely associated with cities and counties that have established themselves as safe havens for undocumented immigrants.

This is problematic for rural communities that are, broadly speaking, aligned with President Donald Trump. The vast majority these Colorado counties voted overwhelmingly for Trump, who opposes both legal and illegal immigration. If county officials in these Colorado hinterlands attempted to adopt resolutions providing sanctuary to immigrants, the reaction would be drastically different.

"It would be very negative," Reams says when asked what the community response would be if he approached his county leadership about becoming an immigration sanctuary. But Reams doesn't see a contradiction.

"My stance on illegal immigration is that it is a federal issue," Reams says. Trump's immigration policies have not "been proven to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court yet so we should be enforcing it," he adds.

When asked about a hypothetical situation in which his constituents wanted to make his county an immigration sanctuary—perhaps in response to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) overloading Weld County courts and jails without additional federal support—Reams didn't hesitate to support the feds.

"I don't see a time where I would try to push back to say what the federal government is doing is wrong," Reams says. "I support ICE in any and every way that I can now."

Sanctuary is proving to be another case study in political tribalism and moral relativism, where one man's constitutional federalism is another man's overreaching authoritarianism.

Is Sanctuary Another Word for Immunity?

Should law enforcement be granted the professional discretion to pick and choose what laws they want to enforce? Case law brings us back to the county seat of Spurlock's district and Castle Rock v. Gonzales.

In 1999, Jessica Lenahan-Gonzales obtained a restraining order against her ex-husband, Simon Gonzales, restricting him from coming within 100 yards of her and her four children. Simon was the biological father of three of the children—all of whom were girls—and stepfather to the fourth, Jessica's son from a previous relationship.

Ignoring the restraining order, Simon Gonzales kidnapped the girls. Lenahan-Gonzales pleaded with the Castle Rock Police Department to search Simon's property. Claiming to not have enough evidence to establish probable cause for a search warrant, the police department refused. Several days after the kidnapping, Simon Gonzales showed up at the police station, where a confrontation with officers escalated into a shootout. Simon Gonzales was killed and police discovered the bodies of the three daughters in his truck.

Jessica Lenahan-Gonzales sued the city of Castle Rock, claiming that the police violated "a federally protected property interest in the enforcement of the restraining order" under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.

After six years of appeals, the case eventually made it to the Supreme Court. The highest court ruled 7–2 against Lenahan-Gonzales.

"A benefit is not a protected entitlement if officials have discretion to grant or deny it," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority. "Even if the statute could be said to make enforcement 'mandatory,' that would not necessarily mean that respondent has an entitlement to enforcement."

This decision supports the underlying argument that Colorado sheriffs are making against the red flag law: They have professional discretion when it comes to the enforcement of their state's laws. Furthermore, if this precedent was applied to a future legal challenge, noncompliant law enforcement would not be held legally liable if they refused to serve a court order even if the targeted person subsequently committed a heinous crime. If death and taxes are two guarantees in life, police immunity is a safe bet for the bronze medal.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis reaffirmed this discretion during a press event on March 26.

"Have you jaywalked in the past year?" Polis sarcastically asked a reporter, who asked about the growing opposition to the red flag law at the county level.

The flippant comparison, which earned Polis significant criticism, was the governor's awkward way of implying that law enforcement has the authority to exercise personal judgment when enforcing all laws.

After successfully passing both Colorado legislative chambers, H.B.1177 was signed into law by Polis on April 12, 2019, making Colorado the 15th state to adopt a red flag law. Sheriff Spurlock participated in the signing ceremony, where he could be seen smiling and applauding the new law alongside legislators and activists.

As Spurlock and supporters celebrate the new law, opponents—primarily, gun rights organizations—are gearing up for a battle in court. On May 2, 2019, the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners filed suit against the state of Colorado, alleging that the Colorado General Assembly failed to abide by procedural requirements outlined in the Colorado Constitution. Based on this technical error by the state legislature, the suit argues that the H.B. 1177 should be declared "null, void and of no effect."

*CLARIFICATION: This passage was edited to clarify that "high bar" was Sheriff Tony Spurlock characterization.

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106 responses to “Colorado's Growing Second Amendment Sanctuary Movement

  1. All of the USA is a Second Amendment Zone.

    Fuck off commie losers. Move to N Korea so you can be with your leader Kim Jong-il

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEaKX9YYHiQ

    1. Your pills Pop-Pop. Have some warm milk to wash them down with.

      1. Poor Lefty troll.

        The 2A and no infringement of the right to keep and bear Arms.

        All Arms. Grenades, bombs, rifles, pistols, any ammo, canons, tanks, ships, plane, rockets, swords, knives, artillery, mortars, and any other Armament ever developed.

        1. To be fair… the founding fathers knew the difference between arms and ordnance. Grenades would not fall under arms.

          1. Uhhh, during the founding fathers time private citizens could literally own cannons and private war ships armed as well as any the navy had… So try again boss.

            1. Most of those things are cost prohibitive, so not really a policy issue.

              1. I mean, personally I want the Iron Man armor. But not being a billionaire, and the lack of underlying tech advances needed kind of kill5(@5 idea too.

            2. . . . private citizens could literally own cannons and private war ships . . .

              Permitted =/= Constitutionally Protected Right.

    2. It’s your cult leader who loves Kim, dude. If you think people who pose a threat have a right to guns, then I suggest you are too impaired to own a gun. The 2nd Amendment has been obsolete since the US created a standing army over 200 years ago. Today, it is used a a marketing tool for the gun industry.

      1. Fuck off and die, slave

        1. No, there was not a large standing army until after WWII. But creating a large standing military and abandoning the militia concept was the original mistake. If the U.S. was unable to raise an army to get involved in WWI, likely the allies would not have been able to impose conditions upon the Germans that led to the fascists rise to power and WWII and the Cold War.

          Also, the Founders wanted an armed citizenry as a defense against tyranny. Given that there are expanding Stalinist/Maoist tendencies among the Left, it os wise that the people be well-armed with military-style weapons should the oppressive Left ever gain power. And the Left is becoming ever more oppressive.

        2. No, there was not a large standing army until after WWII. But creating a large standing military and abandoning the militia concept was the original mistake. If the U.S. was unable to raise an army to get involved in WWI, likely the allies would not have been able to impose conditions upon the Germans that led to the fascists rise to power and WWII and the Cold War.

          Also, the Founders wanted an armed citizenry as a defense against tyranny. Given that there are expanding Stalinist/Maoist tendencies among the Left, it is wise that the people be well-armed with military-style weapons should the oppressive Left ever gain power. And the Left is becoming ever more oppressive. Many on the Left (and a few on the Right) wouldn’t hesitate to holocaust the opposition if they gained unchecked power. Military capable firearms in civilian hands check that power.

        3. Yap all you want, Nardz.

          Until you are replaced.

          After spending the time you have left toeing the line established by the liberal-libertarian mainstream that has stomped your preferences in the culture war.

          Carry on, clinger.

          1. Arty, try ‘replacing’ me. It would be fun to teach you an object lesson. Nice and legal.

      2. No, there was not a large standing army until after WWII. But creating a large standing military and abandoning the militia concept was the original mistake. If the U.S. was unable to raise an army to get involved in WWI, likely the allies would not have been able to impose conditions upon the Germans that led to the fascists rise to power and WWII and the Cold War.

        Also, the Founders wanted an armed citizenry as a defense against tyranny. Given that there are expanding Stalinist/Maoist tendencies among the Left, it is wise that the people be well-armed with military-style weapons should the oppressive Left ever gain power. And the Left is becoming ever more oppressive. Many on the Left (and a few on the Right) wouldn’t hesitate to holocaust the opposition if they gained unchecked power. Military capable firearms in civilian hands check that power.

        1. Sorry for the repeated replies. This new comment platform is squirrelly as hell. Can’t delete replies.

          1. You’re the only one I’ve seen w squirrels. I get “that comment was already posted.”

            1. I think it depends in part on the speed of your internet connection: You can get a race condition where you’re allowed to post a second time before the notification that you already posted arrives to stop you, if things are laggy.

          2. The new platform is a nightmare when I use my tablet. So easy to accidentally go to another page with just the slightest gesture. It’s a huge piece of shit that needs to go in the trash bin.

      3. As the earlier replies suggest, your argument is inverting the rationale for the Second Amendment. (As an aside, the right of defense of self and others is preexisting and independent of the Second Amendment.)

        The Militia was not considered the primary tool for defense because of the absence of a Standing Army but to render the formation of a Standing Army unnecessary. Preventing the formation of the Military-Industrial Complex which we have presently was a goal of this right – though it is fairly-certain that none of the Founders, even Hamilton, would have envisioned the present intolerable state of affairs.

        1. Even Hamilton? Among the founders, Hamilton was the outstanding and energetic booster of a standing Army.

          1. That’s why he said, “…even Hamilton…”

  2. After six years of appeals, the case eventually made it to the Supreme Court. The highest court ruled 7–2 against Lenahan-Gonzales.

    “A benefit is not a protected entitlement if officials have discretion to grant or deny it,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority. “Even if the statute could be said to make enforcement ‘mandatory,’ that would not necessarily mean that respondent has an entitlement to enforcement.”

    Greatest argument ever for the 2nd Amendment. Expecting the state to do what you can do for yourself is an invitation to tyranny.
    Restraining order+ 2A should = license to kill. If she had just shot her piece of shit husband instead of waiting for the police to do it, her daughters might be alive.

    1. Unfortunately this appears to be true. The story as outlined in the article is outrageous. How is violating a restraining order not kidnapping? The cops have the right to enforce or not enforce as they see fit? I understand if this applies to victimless crimes but… wow.

      1. How is violating a restraining order not kidnapping?

        How is it kidnapping?
        I don’t think it’s so much about what the cops have the right to do or not to. It’s about what people have a right to expect from the cops and whether cops failing to act when in principle they could have violates anyone’s due process rights.

  3. Hey Red Rocks, or any other Coloradans here, what’s a good pro-2nd Amendment organization to join up with out here? I’ve been seeing some advertisements for a group in Bothell or Longmont, but I would like a recommendation if you know one. I don’t know that much about guns personally, but I would still like to support the right up here.

    1. “I don’t know that much about guns personally, but I would still like to support the right up here.”

      Damned decent of you BUCS.

      Whether or not you are into guns is a personal choice, as it should be, but we should support all freedoms; even if they are not as immediate or near and dear to us.

    2. The Klan as a pretty top notch chapter in COSprings in hear.

      1. Maybe he’d like an organization that isn’t 60% FBI informants.

        1. And 40% undercover local cops.

      2. And 120% Democrat.

        Its funny when Lefties try to act like the Klan was not founded by Democrats.

      3. How do you know? You must be a member.

      4. BUCS isn’t a Democrat.

    3. I was never a member of any gun orgs during my stays in the homeland, so I couldn’t tell you for sure.

      Dave Perry, the far-left editor of the Aurora Sentinel, has a hard-on for the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and would be happy to see them permanently silenced. Any group that shithead despises is at least worth considering, but from what I understand, they are 2A absolutists, so your mileage may vary on whether they’d fit in with what you’re looking for.

      1. “Second” the RMGO recommendation. (I know people who worked there and they are absolutely hardline on 2A.)

    4. The Colorado Libertarian party, Just do a search you’ll find us

      1. Do you regularly post which of your parents’ basements you’re holding your nightly D&D games in?

  4. What happens when cities and counties have their own ideas about a law that authorizes the seizure of guns from people who are said to be mentally ill?

    FTFY. It’s “perceived threat to themselves or others” all the way down!

  5. Using Castle Rock as precedent here doesn’t make a lot of sense. That case held that the plaintiff did not have a property interest in the enforcement of the restraining order; that’s important, because if she did have a property right in its enforcement, then them not enforcing it would deny her property, which the State cannot do without providing due process. But since she didn’t have a property interest (and I don’t believe ever claimed a life or liberty interest, the other bases for a due process claim), her due process claim failed, because due process is only required when life, liberty, or property rights are implicated. The Court did not hold that law enforcement has the federal constitutional right to not follow state law, but held that, because enforcing the law almost always entails a lot of discretion for police, the state restraining order law did not give her an actual right to enforcement. That matters, because while the federal constitution forbids the States to deprive someone of property without due process, the Court has been clear that what actually constitutes a property right is defined by state law, not federal law.

    Now apply that to these sheriffs: they’re basically saying that Castle Rock held that they have discretion to enforce laws as a federal constitutional matter. That is not correct; Castle Rock actually says that if Colorado wanted to give the plaintiff a property interest, it could have made the language more explicit that enforcement was mandatory without reference to discretion by law enforcement. That is not compatible with the sheriff’s claim that they have a federal constitutional right to decide when to enforce the law; it just means that the tradition of discretion is so well-subscribed that it is assumed to be part of a law unless the law specifically disavows it. As far as I know, no court has ever held that it is unconstitutional for a state to require state officials–or even municipal officials, who are not meaningfully different from state officials in this regard–to enforce the laws of the state.

    In fact, the precedent that does exist cuts against this position in a really important way. One case, Hunter v. Pittsburgh, 207 U.S. 161 (1907), stated that cities and counties “are political subdivisions of the state, created as convenient agencies for exercising… powers of the state.” Because of this, states “may modify or withdraw all such powers, may take without compensation such property, hold it itself, or vest it in other agencies, expand or contract the territorial area” and other things, up to and including destroying the whole municipal corporation, without consulting the people who live there, “or even against their protest.” That authority of the states is extremely broad when it comes to cities, and it is impossible to square with the idea that, all that power aside, city and county officials have a constitutional right to decide not to enforce state law.

    As an aside, these laws are actually less restrictive than involuntary civil commitment laws, which apply to a roughly similar class of people, are also judged by the clear and convincing evidence standard (at least in my state, and several others), and are understood to be constitutional in general, despite allowing a person to be committed to an institution against his will when he has not been accused of a crime. Taking guns clearly implicates the second amendment, but it is less restrictive than putting someone in confinement against his will, because in confinement you can’t have guns either, but you also have a lot more restrictions. If these red flag laws are unconstitutional, it isn’t because of Castle Rock, or because of restrictions on the right to possess firearms, unless the right to possess firearms is more robust than the right to not be confined against your will. I cannot imagine that is the case.

    1. But that’s only to say that civil commitment laws are constitutionally objectionable, too. They should also require process comparable to a felony trial.

      1. Except that the court cases examining them generally hold them to to be constitutional. Giving process similar to a criminal trial is not workable in the civil commitment or red flag law arena, because criminal trials are about deciding guilt and assessing punishment, which is necessarily retrospective. There’s no concern on the state’s part about getting it done very quickly, because the crime has (allegedly) already been committed. But that’s reversed in these cases: the state is trying to prevent someone from doing something due to mental illness or disturbance, so speed is more important. Giving the same process as in a criminal trial just doesn’t work, if we’re actually trying to stop violence.

        1. Not giving the same process as in a criminal trial does work, though, if you’re just trying to deprive somebody of a civil liberty because you don’t like it, or don’t like them. Which is the case here: Red flag laws are adopted by legislators who just don’t like the RKBA, and want to infringe it to the maximum extent they can get away with.

          To be clear, I’m perfectly aware that the courts have signed off on depriving people of their civil liberties with minimal procedural safeguards so long as you say that you’re doing it because they might commit a crime, rather than because they already have committed a crime. So that factual innocence doesn’t matter, only speculative future guilt.

          This blows a huge, gaping hole in the security of our civil liberties, which we ought to be devoting ourselves to closing, not enlarging.

          1. I think you’re making some important errors here. Regardless of what you think motivates the legislators, you have to evaluate the law by what it actually does. I disagree with you about their motivations, but for the sake of discussion, I’ll just assume that you’re right, and they’re motivated by animus to gun ownership. This law doesn’t take away the right to bear arms generally, only when someone has a legitimate concern for the safety of others. Even with an illegitimate motive, that’s a pretty limited remedy. Consider the infringement happening here: a person is deprived of his right to possess firearms, which is a serious liberty interest, but is otherwise free. That is non-ideal, but it also may be the most limited intrusion possible that still prevents a tragedy. I share your concern for the liberty of the defendant here, but I also think we have to take a common sense consequentialist approach to this.

            In your second paragraph, you’re conflating the criminal process with the civil process. We’re not talking about innocence or guilt, we’re talking about mental health and public safety. When a person is mentally ill enough to be civilly committed, their ability to even make rational choices is impacted, and sometimes outright removed. I’ve had civil commitment clients who were literally nonverbal; it can get very bad. But at bottom, you’re assuming that the process works like this: one person is very ill, and someone thinks he’ll commit a crime, so they have him locked up. That’s not correct. It’s more like this: one person is very ill and actually does something to attempt suicide or a crime against the person or property of another person; someone else (usually family) files a petition asking for them to be committed because their behavior is probably going to continue given how bad it has gotten and no signs of mental illness abating. The judge decides whether the petitioner has shown by clear and convincing evidence that commitment is necessary. That’s not the same as speculative future guilt.

            1. Taking a consequentialist approach, likely those powers would be expanded. If a person is so dangerous, then the person can be committed. If one can’t be trusted with a gun, one can’t be trusted with freedom.

        2. But isn’t the restrospective dimension most critical? I.e., an actual alledged crime has been committed, not just somebody’s fear, justified or not, that one might be committed later on. Unless we want to recast our legal system around the concept of future crime.

          1. If you’re talking about the general rule that we can’t punish people for things they didn’t do, then yes, the retrospective aspect is very important. But that’s not relevant to my point; I’m saying that criminal situations are different, because the government’s interest in speed is lessened. You also have to be careful to not conflate “our legal system” with the criminal aspect of it specifically. Civil commitment is a exactly what it means: civil. It proceeds through probate court in my state, and I think that is the norm elsewhere. The whole point is not to punish, but to get someone mental healthcare when they are in an emergency and not capable of making good decisions about their own health. I recognize how Orwellian that sounds, but rejecting it knee-jerk is just not dealing with the facts. We’re talking about people with drug addictions and mental illness so severe, they need immediate intervention to prevent them from harming themselves or others. Doing that prevents them from, among other things, being charged with a crime for something they did while mentally incompetent. So it’s not about future crime in a punitive setting, it’s about reacting in an emergency. While the civil commitment process can be abused, that is true of every process, and the solution there, as with red flag laws, is to have safeguards against abuse, not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

            1. Brennan, you make way too much sense for this crowd. They won’t have the foggiest idea how to respond, and will end up just cursing you. Keep at it, and you will see. With your experience, you may end up wondering whether these pro-gun commenters are a bunch of prospective clients.

              But thanks for the humane comments.

              1. No one is cursing him, rather leaving intelligent replies. The one concern Brennan has not addressed is adequate safeguards. No one, except the pro-rights people, seems to be interested in adequate safeguards. Given the current political and cultural context, the pro-rights people are right to be concerned about abuse of power.

                1. The one concern Brennan has not addressed is adequate safeguards.

                  Bruce D, the whole point is adequate safeguards. That is all that Brennan has been discussing. It’s just that he knows—as you apparently do not—that where the chaos of flagrant mental illness is involved, giving top priority to time-consuming due process on gun rights is probably not the most sensible priority among the conflicting safeguards available.

                  I get where you and your fellow gun advocates are coming from. You are thinking, what if it was me? What you are closing your ears to from Brennan—what you should by listening to—is that the premise is not that Brennan is talking about you as Joe Average, as you see yourself now. The premise is instead you afflicted, utterly out of control through no fault of your own, and absolutely a deadly menace to yourself and others around you.

                  In such a case, keeping you safe, and making you safe, is the priority which best serves your own interest. Deciding that is not a particularly close or difficult decision. At a moment like that, everything else needs to wait in line—and any decision to the contrary is a disservice to you, and everyone around you.

              2. Also, Stephen, you write, “… these pro-gun commenters are a bunch of prospective clients.”

                And you wonder why we don’t trust you. You make our point for us – it’s way too easy to do Soviet-style psychology and label anyone who supports freedom as being insane. Your comment is the best evidence of that.

                1. Bruce D, some of you—I refer to gun owners generally—are insane. And any of you, or I, might become so. Policy has to account for that. Noting that is not evidence of a Soviet-style approach.

              3. I would agree w/ some of the other commentators are that your characterization is unjustified.

                I happen to be in favor of appropriately-constructed ERPO statutes. The concern of many though is whether they provide Due Process of Law (both Procedural and Substantive) protections. I may be in error but I gathered from the testimony of Prof Dave Kopel before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Colorado statute didn’t impose a Clear and Convincing standard; it sounds like, from the OP and Mr. Brennan’s comments, that possibly it does. However, possibly the discrepancy is a result of whether this is imposed at both the summary (ex parte) and plenary (trial) stages.

                There are other important factors – some of which I modestly addressed at
                http://philosophical-vistas.net/do-the-current-proposed-congressional-red-flag-laws-themselves-exhibit-red-flags/
                – but this standard is certainly one of the most important factors.

                Consequently, many of the commentators who are concerned with ERPO laws are justified in their concerns.

            2. “I’m saying that criminal situations are different, because the government’s interest in speed is lessened.”

              So the government can take it’s time about locking up someone who _has_ allegedly committed a crime, but has to hurry to lock up someone who is alleged to be likely to commit a crime in the future! Which one is more likely to actually be dangerous?

              But the real problem is that the “speedy trial” clause in the Constitution has been interpreted into almost meaninglessness. So we get on the one hand, suspects who can’t make bail sitting in a jail for months or even years, until they’ve served the entire sentence for their alleged crime and can plead guilty and walk free – but if they’re innocent and refuse to plea, they might be there for months or years more. On the other hand, suspects that can make bail are free for months or years before their trial. Some of them will repeat their crimes, and some will intimidate or murder the witnesses against them – but if they have money, they are routinely released until trial.

              It would not matter as much if pre-trial release (or detention) was only a few days, but it’s become usual for a case involving serious violence to take over a year from arrest to sentencing. When the accusation is “He’s acting weird, so we’re afraid” – but with no evidence that the subject has _ever_ been violent – it’s an emergency requiring an immediate hearing, and they’ll reschedule a hearing about an actual violent crime to fit it in – while the accused criminal (who often has been convicted before) is free on bail for months and years!

        3. Brennan, “… if we’re actually trying to stop violence.”

          The purpose isn’t to stop violence. It’s to make it easier and set precedents to confiscate firearms.

      2. Pre-trial detention without bail is a thing too. That seems pretty comparable to civil commitment. Civil commitment can’t be indefinite, I don’t think, without at least more due process.
        Not that I really feel comfortable about civil commitment. The rights of insane people are kind of a tricky subject. My gut says that they shouldn’t be forced to do anything if they haven’t acted criminally. But some people are pretty crazy sometimes and in retrospect are glad to have been forced into treatment.

        1. I largely agree. I’ve represented several people in civil commitment hearings, and I always found it very uncomfortable how quickly most of them waived their right to contest the proceedings, often before I ever brought up that it was an option. I think a big part of this problem is that people don’t understand mental illness well; even people who study it for a living don’t have the grasp on it you’d expect. For a couple of reasons though, I think civil commitment is the lesser evil, when it’s done properly. People with severe mental illness don’t have autonomy in the same way other people do; their disease literally stops them from making certain decisions, sometimes basic stuff, like feeding their child. It’s not that they’re bad people, they’re just ill. Now, a lot of people have historically used that as a reason to treat them like animals, and some would still do that today. I think we have to have responsible people making the decisions, which means a lot of judges need to up their game or get replaced, but if you have a compassionate, reasonable person deciding whether to send someone to a hospital for a week (the period applicable in my state) because that person has gone so crazy they can’t even feed themselves, I don’t think an appeal to autonomy is meaningful. It assumes that the person even wants to be doing the things they’re doing, but with at least severe mental illness, that’s like assuming that a seizure patient wants to be thrashing around.

          There’s also the public safety factor. I think that one is obvious, and I have my qualms about interfering with someone’s freedom because of the fear of what they might do in the future. But consider that civil commitment, when properly applied, only catches people who were on the brink of causing harm. The remedy doesn’t lock them up even as long as your average pretrial detainee, in fact, much shorter. And there’s even a process for early release if the person improves faster than normal. When you realize that the autonomy argument is flawed in this case, and the public safety issue is more serious, I think commitment makes sense.

          As for pretrial detention, I have to disagree that it’s comparable to civil commitment; they have the purported interest in public safety in common, but pretrial detention is bullshit in almost every case. Bail is pretty much just a particularly stupid form of subsidy for bondsmen; it’s actually the law in several jurisdictions that bail is supposed to be a last resort, and most people should be released without bond, unless the judge has a specific reason to think bond is necessary. That rule just doesn’t get followed by almost anyone; it’s very frustrating. Pretrial detention, except for a very small number of people, is horrible. I agree with it for I guess like Timothy McVeigh, but for your run-of-the-mill defendant, it’s just extortionate.

          1. Brennan, you really don’t sound too interested in protecting your clients’ rights. For one thing, most of them AREN’T railroaded into psychiatry for a violation of the law, like your child neglect example. They’re quacked because they’re really no match for the people they’ve inconvenienced. One rant on social media, or feud with a neighbor, or show of defiance towards a parent or a husband, and that dissident gets exiled, caged, and narcoticized. That is psychiatric terrorism, and, no, it WILL NOT stop gun violence. You know it, and your clients know it. So, stop posing as a reputable attorney, and either serve them or quit the kangaroo “mental health courts”.

            1. This is a really good example of how misunderstandings lead well-intentioned people to bad criticisms. You’re right that it isn’t necessary for a person to violate the law to be civilly committed. The standard in my state is that they be homicidal, suicidal, or gravely disabled. This has to be shown by clear and convincing evidence in theory, but in general, many if not most clients waive their right to a hearing. They do this because they need the help. For many of them, civil commitment is the only way they are able to afford mental health treatment. When a client does not want to waive their right to a hearing, I of course put up as vigorous a defense as I am able. I don’t have any statistics on this handy, so I can only speak to my own experience, but I have never had a client get committed on the basis of any of the things you mentioned. I’ve even had judges allow evidence favorable to the defense that might surprise you. Once, I had a client who had been running his own business for about 20 years; the prosecutor objected to me bringing this up, but the judge let me do it on the ground that a person running his own business successfully is unlikely to be gravely disabled, as defined by statute. This is a situation where a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but even just a bit more than minimum starts to paint a clearer picture.

    2. Interesting stuff, I appreciate you typing all that out.

    3. I will save y’all a bunch of time.

      The 2nd Amendment protects against government infringement of the right to keep and bear Arms.

      That means all gun grabbing laws are unconstitutional and therefore illegal.

      Once you let lawyers try and justify when and where they can “help” someone from hurting themselves, you get all sorts of unconstitutional acts sanctioned by our politicians and bureaucrats.

  6. These laws aren’t very practical… As noted in the article, small towns & rural cop stations have very little spare room to store private weapons while some asshole cools his jets or “proves” that he doesn’t have a “personality disorder”… “Personality disorder” being a medical-psychiatric technical term for “being an asshole”.

    Yet another reason these laws aren’t very practical is, we already have too much of a shortage of “expert” shrinks and therapists to read our minds for us, to make all of our decisions for us (or at the very bare minimum, to adjudicate all interactions between us and Government Almighty), to add yet another such function, which is to decide who is allowed to protect themselves with weapons, and who is not. Just another feeding frenzy for therapists and lawyers, it is…

    Shortage of therapists, yes, obviously! So if we MUST pass these new laws, an obvious “fix” for this shortage is to appoint and deputize OUR HEAD VOICES as being our therapists!!!

    Problem solved, and yer welcome!!!

  7. “What happens when cities and counties have their own ideas about a law that authorizes the seizure of guns from people who are mentally ill?”

    Did you really have to adopt the anti-gunners’ position on what the law does? If you read the bill, there’s nothing in there about the person being mentally ill. There’s no specification at all about what basis the person is alleged to be dangerous must be; It could just be that the complainant and the judge both agree that private ownership of guns is unreasonably dangerous.

    Further, the “preponderance of evidence” standard admits a significant chance that the judgment is wrong, requiring only that it be more likely right than not. Thus the law implicitly contemplates that these judgments might be wrong a significant part of the time.

    I notice something: The law also violates the right to counsel, as it is normally understood, because while you’re nominally represented at the hearing, the state, not you, picks who represents you.

    1. Actually I read the bill, and it doesn’t violate the right to counsel it states later on that respondent can use counsel of their own choosing at any time during the proceedings at their own expense. Which is essentially the same rule when you are arrested.

      1. Guess I should have read past the summary.

        1. But the respondent doesn’t have a right to be heard in front of a judge (with or without counsel) before their firearms are seized.

          1. The right of the petitioner to a summary (ex parte) hearing is not objectionable. The opportunity for a temporary order, when justified, is a necessary element of an ERPO statute.

            What is objectionable is the use of a Preponderance of Evidence standard to allow its entry. (I mentioned in an earlier comment that the OP confused me since I thought the statute didn’t require a Clear and Convincing standard. Now reading it – thank you Brett for providing the link – I see that only a PoE is required for the summary proceeding and the C&CE is only required for the plenary proceeding.)

            Objection to this lower standard for an ex parte order is justified. All I can say is that at least the Colorado statute isn’t as egregiously deficient as Senator Feinstein’s bill.

  8. “We had dealt with [Riehl] for over three months [before Parrish’s death],” Spurlock says. “We knew that he had been hospitalized for extreme mental health disorders—bipolar, schizophrenia—he had all kinds of unfortunate mental health disorders. There was no law to restrict him from having access to weapons but also protect his family, the community, and himself.”
    Three months — then you had time for a full blown adverserial hearing. You didn’t need that emergency ex-parte asect, did you?

    1. Kind of like that idiot sheriff in Parkland who had 60 encounters with Cruz.

    2. 18 USC 922(g) (4) says that anyone…
      “…who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution…”
      is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition.

      Sound’s like he could have been prosecuted by a U.S. Attorney, but governments seem to be more interested in passing gun laws than enforcing them.

      1. That’s because the gun control is just working towards disarming the population, not dealing with crime. To the extent that using those laws to stop crimes actually worked, it would be counter-productive to the real goal here.

    3. Another thing, “Spurlock argues that if police had the ability to seize Riehl’s weapons, Parrish would still be alive today.”

      Or he would have been killed in the gun raid to take the dude’s firearms.

    4. Part of the problem is that most of the mentally ill are very unlikely to be violent. Track 10,000 people who are in and out of mental institutions and 10,000 ordinary citizens who have never been treated for any mental illness, and the second group will commit more violent crimes. So would 10,000 cops. Nor are therapists much good at detecting the violent ones among their patients. They are often fooled by psychopaths, while the guy who reports extraordinarily violent fantasies will almost certainly never act on them.

      But when it is possible to determine that someone is dangerous, confiscating his guns and leaving him free does little to protect the public. He can get more guns, without going through any legal market where there might be a record of his mental health diagnosis. Or he can drive a car into a crowd, build a bomb from kitchen and bathroom supplies, drop poison into a reservoir, torch a school when it’s in session, etc. And now he has a reason to be angry!

      1. And that’s when the authorities are competent, hard working, and actually care about doing their job right. For a contrary example, see Parkland, FL. And I would not be surprised to find out that Spurlock is just as bad…

  9. Spurlock’s primarily worried about this because Douglas County is loaded with the type of upper-middle class, suburban schools where these shootings tend to take place. He doesn’t want to be seen as enabling the next shooting that would result in the soccer moms of Highlands Ranch and Castle Rock conducting a “get out the vote” drive against him.

    What’s also notable is that this law was named after a cop who was killed by a crazy person. The thing is, if these people are too dangerous to be allowed to possess firearms, then logically, why are you allowing them to still walk the streets?

    1. This is exactly my argument. There is nothing magical about guns. If a person poses a real threat, based on the information that is available at the time, what makes them believe they wouldn’t go drive over a bunch of kids at school?
      In addition, the example seems kind of strange, because the shootout would just have occurred at the guys house instead of the station. If they came for his guns and he is that level of a nutjob, why wouldn’t he go off then?

      1. My apologies, I was mixing up different events.

        But my argument still stands. The deputies were there to put him into custody. So he goes off and shoots them. How would this have turned out any differently when they showed up a couple weeks earlier to take his guns?

        1. Had they not showed up to take his guns, zero violence would have occured.

    2. Technically, they weren’t allowing him to walk the streets. He was identified as a threat – the cop was killed while trying to effect a 72-hour psych hold. This was just a bad situation that turned worse.

      1. That’s the part that tends to get ignored, though. The bill was introduced by the dad of one of the Aurora theater victims, and by that guy’s logic, Holmes should have been locked up long before he ever acquired guns, much less conducted the shooting.

  10. Hmmm.
    Who deems who is mentally ill and who isn’t?
    What exactly is mental illness?
    What is normal behavior?
    What is the roll of the politicians to define mental illness?
    Is the person ruled “mentally ill” have a right to a second opinion?
    What is the legal procedure that determines who is mentally ill?
    These and other questions will not be asked in any legislature.
    Just give up your guns to the government goons folks and admit you’re all crazy.
    It will save the government a lot of time and trouble.

    1. To many red flag proponents, the simple desire to own a gun is evidence of risky, irrational behavior. Self-fulfilling?

    2. Since I can be my own lawyer, I should also be able to be my own shrink, right? And I can then offer my professional opinion on whether I am sane or not, am an asshole or no (AKA, have a “personality disorder” or not), and whether or not I am to violence-prone tow own a gun (or a hammer or a saw either).

      “What is the roll of the politicians to define mental illness?”

      That’s not how I roll!!!

      The role of the politicians is to admit that THEY are the insane ones (with delusions of grandeur), and that they should all just go away and leave us alone!

      1. Got to ad it, I still don’t want schizophrenics and other severely delusional individuals to possess firearms.

    3. That is the big question right? And of course the answer changes with the times… What I always like to pose as a counter to progtards (for this and many other arguments, like free speech), and this works GREAT with their current state of mind over Trump…

      What happens if the nation is swept up in a fervor of hardcore right wing governance? What if they declare communists, or indeed even “moderate” socialists like Bernie Sanders to be insane? To be political terrorists? Well, they can use the same laws to disarm them, or quell their free speech.

      Sometimes this sinks in and they rethink their ban guns/speech inclinations… Other times it flies over their head. But it does work sometimes.

  11. Riehl, a veteran with a long history of documented mental health issues, was behaving erratically according to the officers who showed up at the scene. When police attempted to place him under 72-hour psychiatric monitoring, Riehl began firing a gun at the responding officers from inside his apartment. The 29-year-old Parrish was fatally wounded in the exchange. Riehl wounded three additional officers before police shot and killed him. A judge would later deem Riehl’s death to be justified.

    Spurlock argues that if police had the ability to seize Riehl’s weapons, Parrish would still be alive today.

    “We had dealt with [Riehl] for over three months [before Parrish’s death],” Spurlock says. “We knew that he had been hospitalized for extreme mental health disorders—bipolar, schizophrenia—he had all kinds of unfortunate mental health disorders. There was no law to restrict him from having access to weapons but also protect his family, the community, and himself.”

    It seems to me that had the sheriff gone after Riehl’s guns weeks earlier, some other deputy would have been shot instead.

    Either come up with enough evidence to arrest him, or to institutionalize him, and the grab him on the street. Even then he may be armed and present a danger to the deputies. A red-flag confiscation is not going to be any safer with this sort of individual than any other arrest.

    Seizing the guns should require the same “danger-to-self-or-public” evidence, but if you have that then you already have the evidence for a psych hold…so do that.

    But a psych hold is clearly seen as more invasive–and rights-depriving–than seizing guns. It’s not, but the sheriff seems to think so.

  12. “Spurlock argues that if police had the ability to seize Riehl’s weapons, Parrish would still be alive today.”

    No shit he would be. “If we stop criminals from being able to commit crimes, no crimes will be committed!” Good luck preventing crimes without locking people up in isocubes. Someone needs to impeach that sheriff for being a slaver.

    1. And who’s to say that showing up to seize weapons wouldn’t have ended in a shoot-out, either. Seems the most likely reason people wind up shot is because the police get involved.

      1. Sending cops or some process server to give official paperwork to the target person is the way to go.

        Let them know what is happening and what their Due Process rights are.

        If you have a constitutional reason for a legal action and the person uses violence, then they are violating the rules and become the bad guys. Instead we have police think that nightime aggressive raids demand property owner compliance without defending themselves.

  13. So Lefties that defy a law or regulation on immigration and create sanctuary cities are heroes, but lawmen who refuse to honor laws that violate our constitutional rights are to be despised.

    Did that sum it up?

    1. This is how the Lefties try and control the Narrative and make guns bad and constitutionalists dangerous.

      Its a tried snd true propaganda method for socialists.

    2. That’s how the article comes across to me. Certainly bringing up refusal to enforce immigration laws is reasonable since we’re talking about refusing to enforce certain laws.

      What’s totally missing is anything about the process involved and whether it facilitates abuse of our freedoms. Note there’s little discussion about taking away freedoms from mentally unfit people, and we do it often, including not allowing the mentally unfit, or children, to engage in contracts. And why didn’t the author mention the federal law (kudos to Jerry B. who pointed out 18 USC 922(g) (4) already prohibits mental defectives from owning a firearm – so why wasn’t that used to disarm these kooks who shot people?).

      So, why wasn’t the process to take away some mentally unfit person’s guns described here? And the process to determine if they are mentally unfit? That is what matters, and Reason could have done better in telling us so we have something more meaningful to discuss. Rather than discussing whether to enforce a law or not.

  14. re: the “Deputy Zackari Parrish III Violence Protection Act”

    If you have to name your bill after a photogenic victim, that’s a pretty clear sign that you are appealing to emotion because your bill fails on logic, policy and actual facts.

  15. We knew that he had been hospitalized for extreme mental health disorders—bipolar, schizophrenia—he had all kinds of unfortunate mental health disorders

    Does not that silly sheriff KNOW that this alone disquailfies ANYONE from possession of firearms? That SHOULD have been reported to NICS… that way this clown could not have bought those guns, and the ones he had SHOULD have been taken away. THIS is consistent with due process and existing law.
    SAME THING happened with the Sutherland Springs church shooter. He had been CONVICTED of felony attempted murder, two counts, feloy domestic violence two counts. AND dishonourabley discharged from the Air Force. but NONE of this information was sent to the FBI/NICS database, it SHOULD have been (requried by LAW to be done) after his indictment, then AGAIN after his conviction and discharge. Two different Air Force desk jockeys were too busy playing solitaire on their government computers to bother to DO THEIR JOB>

    Now, back to that Parkland school shooter… once more HE had committed at least FOUR felony level crimes, and the Broward County Sheriffs KNEW of them all and so did the FBI. But, the Broward Cowards FAILED to charge him… why? Simple: they preferred receiving the $Mn54 casn reward for reducing their ARREST rate amongst school age kids in their county. They did, alright, by REFUSING to charge this dirtbag after he had committed these four felonies. They reduced the ARREST rate by a count of one, but did NOT reduce the CRIME rate.. in fact, they RAISED it by a count of 26. All to get the cash prize.

    MOST of the RedFlag/ERPO laws do NOT have anyhting resembling due process. The COnstitution REQUIRES a warrant to be issued upon a sworn affadavit laying out the probable cause, naming the source of that, and allowing the accused/respondent to actually RESPOND before the goods are taken. Or at least immediately after. Further, the respondent MUST have the right to challenge, examine the source of the accusation, question accusers, witnesses, present his own.. and these laws do NOT allow that to happen. The guy and his guns are seized right away, at some time somewhere down the road the accused can petitioin to have his guns back… but reality is that almost nevr does this happen for the first year. Most laws like these allow the guns to be kept “up to a year”. THEN he must be the one to prove his own innocence, not the other side to prove his guilt and worthiness to be deprived of his goods and rights. THIS is the sirty part of these nasty laws.

  16. Regarding red flag laws, the Supreme Court ruled that before the government can confiscate or infringe upon property, owners are entitled to a defense. They’re entitled to lawyers, to cross-examine and to avail themselves of other procedural benefits. In 1969, the Supreme Court held that even freezing property (much less removing it) without a prior hearing violates due process.

    Courts rarely grant protective orders without notice and require a requester to show an immediate emergency. Specifically, petitioners must prove they’re in imminent danger and a protective order is the only remedy. Allegations are not enough. Petitioners must prove a “clear and convincing evidence of imminent harm.” Further, a petitioner may have to post a bond to protect the defendant against damage in case their accusations prove false or exaggerated.

    Orders without notice typically last only a few days and usually change nothing. Most of these orders simply protect the status quo, e.g., restrain the defendant from harassing the petitioner before a hearing or from hiding or destroying assets that might be used to pay a debt. In 1969, the Supreme Court held that even freezing property (much less removing it) without a prior hearing violates due process.

  17. You can have a “safe” society or a free society, but you can’t have both.
    North Korea is a very “safe” society.
    Americans have been slowly becoming fat lazy cattle… slurping up welfare. Farmers like chuck schumer are very pleased.

    1. Nothing is safer than force-initiating socialists with fusion bombs.

    2. Safe society? How many did the Red Chinese, Soviets and Nazis kill? Might want to check what happenned to the homicide rate in the UK after their firearms handgun ban in 1997. Homicide rate skyrocketted. Safe society? Gun-control increases violent vrime.

  18. Besides the Constitutional issues, the other problem with these “Red Flag” laws is the consequences. If a person is potentially dangerous, putting him through a SWAT raid, taking his property, and humiliating him in front of his family and neighbors is a real good way to tip him over the edge.
    None of the laws I’ve seen make any provision for any kind of professional evaluation of the person’s stability before the cops unhook him, and just leave.
    But, of course, when someone who has been Red Flag SWATed goes off and kills a bunch of people, it won’t be the government’s problem.

  19. Come to think of it, keeping guns away from whack jobs who would enact and enforce Kristallnacht laws might not be such a bad thing–provided their goons and bodyguards are likewise disarmed. Weren’t British Bobbies gunless?

  20. Why, exactly, should any non-Leftist trust the judgement of a profession whose members routinely write articles declaring being conservative or religious a form of mental illness?

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-entertainment/201206/conservatism-mental-illness

    1. Yikes. That’s some of the most poorly written, poorly sourced, absolute garbage I’ve ever read. Just a big load of “they want to” etc that reads like WaPo comments. It’s highly reductive at best.

  21. Branding someone as “mentally ill” is an easy way to strip them of liberty, basic natural rights, and autonomy. Mental illness is a very serious business so often obfuscated and confused by politics, good intentions, quick fix solutions, etc. Most people with some form of mental illness are totally capable of living independent lives and making their own decisions without being a threat to themselves or others; they just have difficulty in some areas of their lives that most others are probably never aware of. Taking away someone’s guns or prohibiting them from owning or using them is just one of many things that will be justified using arbitrary mental health criteria. Ultimately many areas of people’s lives will be limited by such a justification. They will be prohibited from driving vehicles, from owning or operating certain tools and machinery, from accessing or sharing specific content online, from being members of certain organisations or political groups, from eating certain foods, from using certain medicines, from- oh wait, I guess many are already denied these freedoms using an arbitrary justification of “for their safety and the safety of others” or some similar platitudes:

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