Mass Shootings

The Indianapolis Shooting Highlights the Shortcomings of 'Red Flag' Laws

Although police seized the perpetrator's shotgun when he was deemed suicidal, he was never identified as a potential murderer.

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Supporters of "red flag" laws, which allow judges to suspend people's Second Amendment rights when they are deemed a threat to themselves or others, argue that such statutes help prevent mass shootings by identifying people inclined to commit such crimes before they act. But Indiana's red flag law, the second-oldest in the country, failed to prevent last week's mass shooting at a FedEx sorting facility in Indianapolis, even though police used the law to seize a shotgun from the perpetrator in 2020. He legally purchased the rifles used in the shooting a few months later, a revelation that suggests such laws are not as effective as advertised.

So far 19 states and the District of Columbia have red flag laws, and polls indicate they have broad public support. A 2019 survey, for instance, found that 70 percent of Americans favored letting police "seek a court order to temporarily take away guns if they feel a gun owner may harm themselves or others." President Joe Biden wants more states to pass red flag laws, and he has instructed the Justice Department to write model legislation toward that end. But what happened in Indiana should give pause to anyone who thinks such laws will have a noticeable impact on mass shootings.

Indiana's law was enacted in 2005, after a man diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia used a rifle to kill one Indianapolis police officer and injure another four. The law allows a police officer to seek a gun confiscation order against someone he believes "presents an imminent risk" to himself or others. It also applies to someone who poses a threat that is not immediate but who "has a propensity for violent or emotionally unstable conduct" or who "has a mental illness that may be controlled by medication" but has not been diligent about taking it.

Under Indiana's law, a police officer can seize guns without a court order, in which case he is supposed to file an affidavit explaining his reasons after the fact. If a judge agrees that the officer had probable cause, police can keep the confiscated weapons. A hearing is required within 14 days, at which point the state has to prove by "clear and convincing evidence" that the gun owner meets the law's criteria. After at least six months have passed, the gun owner can seek the return of his property. He has to prove by "a preponderance of the evidence" that he "is not dangerous."

In March 2020, Indianapolis Police Chief Randal Taylor said yesterday, the FedEx shooter's mother told police she thought he was suicidal and might even try to commit "suicide by cop." Her son, then 18, was taken to a hospital on a "mental health temporary hold," and police seized his shotgun. The case "never made it to the court," Taylor said, because prosecutors did not seek a red flag order. But Taylor said police kept the gun after its owner agreed to surrender it.

Because a red flag order was never issued, the Indianapolis shooter was not barred from buying other firearms, and evidently he did not have a criminal or psychiatric record that would have made those purchases illegal. That is typically the case with mass shooters, a fact that suggests expanded background checks for gun buyers, another popular response to such crimes, would not have much of an impact on them.

In retrospect, it is easy to fault prosecutors for not seeking a court order, which would have legally barred this young man from buying or possessing firearms for at least six months. If he successfully challenged the order at that point, he still could have legally bought the guns he used in the FedEx attack. If he did not go to court or failed to make the required showing, however, the order might still have been in place at the time of the shooting.

But the risk that motivated the shotgun seizure was suicide, not homicide, and prosecutors apparently thought the psychological crisis had already been adequately addressed. "What could have occurred," Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears told The New York Times, "is the point was: 'Let's get the gun out of there, make sure the gun is not returned,' if that was the agreement that was made. And I'm not saying that it is the case. But there's no reason to go in front of the judge at that point in time, because the point is we want to take the weapon away."

University of Indianapolis psychologist Aaron Kivisto, who has studied the impact of Indiana's statute, notes that such laws aim to intervene during a period of heightened risk. "Most suicides are fairly impulsive acts," he told the Times. "And if the person can get through the short-term crisis, the suicide doesn't occur."

Back in March 2020, there was no indication that a troubled, possibly suicidal 18-year-old was apt to commit mass murder. While a neighbor recalled him as "an angry young man who always seemed to be 'mad at the world,'" that description could apply to millions of people, an infinitesimal percentage of whom end up committing crimes like this.

The difficulty of predicting which of the country's many angry oddballs are bent on murder is the main weakness of red flag laws as a response to mass shootings. The more mindful states are of due process and evidence when they prohibit people from owning guns, the more likely it is that someone like the Indianapolis shooter will slip through even when he attracts police attention. But casting a wider net inevitably means that many harmless people will lose their Second Amendment rights based on erroneous predictions of what they might otherwise have done.

Since the risk of letting future murderers keep or buy guns looms much larger in the minds of legislators and judges than the risk of unjustly taking away people's constitutional rights, laws and legal processes tend to err in the latter direction. That is why red flags, especially the ones passed in recent years, generally lack adequate due process safeguards. It is also helps explain why judges in some states approve nearly all of the applications they receive.

Even when states have due process protections on the books, they are not necessarily enforced. Notwithstanding Indiana's requirement that a hearing be held within two weeks of a gun seizure, a 2015 study reported in the journal Behavioral Sciences & the Law found that gun owners waited an average of more than nine months before a court decided whether police could keep their firearms. When a hearing finally was scheduled, most of the gun owners did not show. But when they did, they usually prevailed, meaning judges decided the state had not met its burden of proving them dangerous. During the last 71 months covered by the eight-year study, gun owners won every contested case.

There is no solid evidence that red flag laws have any measurable impact on the homicide rate. But they certainly deprive many Americans of the fundamental right to armed self-defense even when they pose no real threat to public safety. As is often the case, politicians are happy to trade civil liberties for the illusion of security.

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  1. I think this is such a wonderful idea we should expand it to the first amendment as well.
    I hereby red flag Maxine Waters for inciting riot, and demand the cops take away all of her social media accounts and the courts issue an injunction against her ever speaking again.

    What? I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that answer.

    1. Not good enough. Her larynx should be temporarily removed, until she is no longer deemed a threat.

      1. Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earnings SDWS are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
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      2. KNuckle dragging low grade moron…..

        She should be holding a Lantern on the lawn in front of the Congress building

    2. Seems fair. Now do Trump for Jan 6th.

      1. lol no.

      2. Stuff your TDS up your ass, lefty shit. Your head wants company.

      3. Didn’t he already have his social media accounts taken away?

      4. The speech was only the catalyst for the smokescreen that followed. The truth is starting to come out and it is very harsh for us DOL.
        In 2002, at the start of the wars, Congressmen and Senators were demanding that more special operations soldiers be created immediately. They were told that lowering the standards would create a less desirable product, that special operations required quality over quantity. DC would not listen. The Senators and Congressmen won that fight. All standards were dropped and lower quality special operations soldiers were mass produced and trained for insurgency and counter-insurgency. Everyone that was present at the time promised them that it would go bad, sooner or later. Now, there is proof.
        In the book, “The Company We Keep”, the author makes the statement that special operators are mostly good people with strong morals, but when they go bad, they really go bad. This was true at the time. We had few incidents, but the incidents that we did have were pretty bad. As you probably noticed, lowered standards and 20 years of constant war made a lot of very bad people and incidents became common place.
        Soon enough, the real planners of Jan 6 will be made known. Everyone that served in SF is about to get a world class kick in the scrotum.
        “100 men, will test today, and every one of them, will get a green beret”.

  2. “suicide by cop.” Is not just any form of suicide.

    This is a very long article attempting to obfuscate the fact that this is exactly the scenario where the red flag law might have worked if it had actually been used.

    So the logical argument from this specific example is that the law should have been implemented, not that it shouldn’t exist.

    “ gun owners won every contested case.” Doesn’t that demonstrate that gun owners get a fair hearing?

    1. Nope. Cases like these are not criminal cases, so you have to pay for your own lawyer. Even consulting one can cost a couple of thousand dollars, or much, much more. It probably isn’t worth it just to get your $400 pistol or .22 rifle back.

      Case in point: in Florida, 80% had no lawyers.

      https://www.naplesnews.com/in-depth/news/crime/2019/12/12/most-red-flag-law-subjects-collier-lee-had-no-lawyer/4189834002/

    2. This is a very long article attempting to obfuscate the fact that this is exactly the scenario where the red flag law might have worked if it had actually been used.

      It actually suggests the exact opposite. It wasn’t fully enforced because it was believed the problem had been addressed. It’s not clear that, if it was enforced, it wouldn’t be similarly regarded within the time limits defined by the law or even the norm/average in practice.

      According to your own scenario:
      March 2020: Gun confiscated. Red flag enforced.
      Sept.-Nov. 2020: ‘Suspect’ found safe/sane. Gun returned. Red flag lifted.
      April 2021: Former suspect perpetrates murder-suicide.

      Setting aside the law and barring magical tropes, the technology that can read the human mind into the future (esp. a year into the future) should have no trouble with things like dating/matchmaking, poker, the stock market, petty larceny, GTA, etc., etc. in the relatively nearer future. Lacking such technology, the law is an arbitrary WAG and to try to apply it retroactively in this case is a deliberate retconning.

      Indeed, the law was passed and allowed to pass as indicated; a short term stopgap to prevent known or suspected violent actors, not a rolling ban a la flattening the curve.

    3. But there was no evidence to support the confiscation at the time. That’s the point. Only a blanket gun ban that treats everyone as a potential criminal and doesn’t require any evidence of potential harm might have prevented him getting a gun. Which is no doubt what the gun control freaks are going for.

    4. “[T]he red flag law might have worked if it had actually been used”, but that would depend upon whether his Mother (or someone else) was aware of the later purchases and again “flagged” him and then to the authorities. The closest “Prohibited Persons category is 18 USC 922(d)(4) which reads “has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution”. This scenario apparently didn’t occur, and thus, even if a proceeding had been instituted under the Indiana “Red Flag” statute NICS wouldn’t have caught it.
      I think this is a deficiency. I’m perhaps one of the few Gun Rights advocates who considers that Extreme Risk Protection Order statutes if properly structured are beneficial to me and my ilk. Why should I be grouped with, and have my rights infringed by, some crazies who create mayhem and shouldn’t have been allowed the opportunity to do so?
      I just posted on my Blog today concerning this very issue, it being at http://philosophical-vistas.net/effective-gun-violence-control/
      While I suspect a number will take vociferous issue with it, I am satisfied this would be a prudent approach.

  3. “But when they did, they usually prevailed, meaning judges decided the state had not met its burden of proving them dangerous. During the last 71 months covered by the eight-year study, gun owners won every contested case.”

    That’s a heck of a track record. If I said that I ‘usually’ got a hit in softball, I expect that people would figure I was batting somewhere between .500 and .600, not 1.000.

  4. From what I can gather, it appears that the prosecutors didn’t do their piece and get this guy listed as un-eligible to purchase a firearm. His mother notified the authorities and he was taken in for observation and his shotgun was confiscated. She and the police did what they could do. But nothing was done beyond that by the prosecutors. So this guy was never actually “red-flagged”.

    Read something recently that claimed that in one year there were over 100K violations on background check forms. The forms clearly state that doing so is grounds for prosecution. Yet out of over 100K violations in one year, only 12 were brought up on charges. If we are going to have gun control laws on the books, the least the authorities can do is enforce them.

    1. do they differentiate between violations and mistakes

      1. How do you differentiate without investigating?

        1. sometimes it only takes a phone call. of course they probably don’t both they just kick them out

        2. By “making s__t up” like the MEdia do.

    2. The article is basically, “This law that was not utilized, but would have worked if it was utilized is obviously a failure!”

      1. Of course a gun-grabbing lefty shit would see misinterpret it.
        The point is that ‘red-flag’ laws attempt the impossible and are worthless.

      2. It wasn’t used because there was no reason to apply it. The danger here is gun control freaks will conclude that we should do away with due process and allow cops to confiscate guns without evidence or hearings.

    3. ” prosecutors didn’t do their piece and get this guy listed as un-eligible to purchase a firearm.”

      They cannot do so. Ineligibility thru NICS is for a previous Criminal record at the Fed level.

      When the FIRST question on the form is “do you smoke pot” then its pretty clear its a Cluster _____

      (supply the appropriate second word as you desire)

  5. I predict the conclusion will be is the laws aren’t red-flaggy enough.

    1. It’s almost like you cheated and read the answers at the back of the book.

  6. Supporters of “red flag” laws

    Also known as gun haters.

    1. Gun owner haters.

      FIFY

      1. They hate guns and deride their owners. All of us. And the nifty-est fix for this is to just get rid of them altogether. Then do what GB has done and have knife control. Make it illegal to even have a kitchen knife with a pointy end. Then move on to tool control.

        Eventually we will all be as safe as if we lived 24/7 in a pre school.

  7. I could argue that the red flag confiscation of his shotgun might have murdered these people. If he was able to kill himself earlier with the shotgun, maybe he wouldn’t have had the time to come up with the idea to murder suicide.

    1. good point they only confirmed that teh people of this world hated him so he stuck back

    2. It should be pretty clear that locking him down and making sure he was isolated from others didn’t do him any favors either.

    3. That would be my first objection to these laws, “Harm to themselves”. Did we not already agree people have the right to commit suicide? Is that only in cases that they agree with and only using methods they don’t find objectionable? If I want to use a gun, the exhaust from my car or cyanide what business of theirs is it?

      1. They are required to clean it up?

  8. All of these red flag laws cloud the truth. If someone is too dangerous to own a gun, he’s too dangerous to roam free, and should be forcibly institutionalized.

    1. I agree, but it’s way too difficult these days to involuntarily commit someone. And we can thank the ACLU for that.

      1. IDK, we successfully committed a good portion of the country, mentally ill or not, in 2020.

    2. The mentally ill have a right to congregate, urinate, and generally inhabit the public sphere without your permission. The feces and used syringes give San Francisco its urban appeal that you can’t find in rural America.

      1. “Urban appeal” huh?

        You got me to thinking; somehow I don’t so much mind the nightly pile of shit a racoon has been leaving on my deck.

        1. My problem with human shit is how wet it is and how it loses integrity and gets on everything. Most animal shit is downright pleasant in comparison.

          1. True of metaphorical as well as literal shit.

      2. “The mentally ill have a right to congregate,”

        Congress.

  9. Was Hole involuntarily committed?
    If so why didn’t the NICS catch it
    Was he, as reported, interviewed by the FBI or other federal agency?
    What prompted that ?

    1. Background checks only screen for criminal record.

      Its basically a “shall issue” system

  10. After at least six months have passed, the gun owner can seek the return of his property. He has to prove by “a preponderance of the evidence” that he “is not dangerous.”

    So, being clear, the Red Flag law didn’t just fail once. Even if it were applied, it likely *would’ve* failed. At least, it would seem that “I went a year and didn’t hurt anyone or myself and I can otherwise pass the same criminal background check that everyone else can. Are you going to hold my guns forever because I haven’t done anything wrong?” Seems like even exceedingly anti-gun courts/judges would force the return of his guns to him.

    People saying “enforce the laws as written” in this case are calling for an arbitrary expansion of the law.

  11. Disagree. The fact that they didn’t follow through and put him on the ‘no buy’ list doesn’t negate the advantages of the law.
    As long as there’s a court in the process, I have no problem with people being permanently banned from purchasing firearms.
    And this guy certainly would have qualified.

    1. This falsely assumes a court would’ve found him ‘guilty’ *beyond the extent of the law* when prosecutors didn’t think they would originally.

      Again, there are other forms of violent crime and patterns that have a much higher chance of succeeding. We don’t apply them because the suspects are innocent until proven guilty. The fact that a majority of gun crimes are committed by felons, even before red flag laws were passed, demonstrates the frivolity/stupidity of the law.

    2. The author is correct. Red flag laws do have shortcomings. What is needed is an outright repeal of the Second Amendment, followed by meaningful gun laws in the United States. Rather than hide behind the excuse of an Amendment written when all guns were flintlocks, we need to come into the 21st century and stop killing each other. Why so many millions of people think maintaining their ability to kill is more important than actually helping their fellow man and citizen is beyond me.
      Of course this will never happen–too many Congressional members of both houses have sold out citizen lives to the NRA and the gun lobby in exchange for campaign cash–but that is what needs to happen.

      1. Fuck off, slaver.

      2. Come and get them, Commie.

  12. Firearms suicides are nearly 24,000 annually (CDC for 2018), while mass shooting deaths are about 1/60th of this number (417 for 2019).

    Temporarily removing firearms from the home of an acutely suicidal person leading to a 1.7% decrease in firearm suicides could thus save more lives than eliminating all mass shootings would — and can be done without undue burden to Second Amendment rights, with weapons returned after around 14 days.

    1. Temporarily removing firearms from the home of an acutely suicidal person leading to a 1.7% decrease in firearm suicides could thus save more lives than eliminating all mass shootings would

      As sad as suicide is, an adult who cannot end his or her own life is not free. The government’s charter is not “sav[ing]…lives”, it is preserving liberty.

      1. NO, it is both. A person who commits suicide affects far more people than just his or herself. The government has a responsibility to protect those people from the actions of a sick person.

        1. It cannot be both, as they are diametrically opposed.

          By your understanding of the term “affects”, literally anything anyone ever does would be something the government should regulate, because even growing wheat on your own property for your own consumption affects “interstate commerce”.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wickard_v._Filburn

          Ergo, a person has the right to kill themselves, even if doing so is a tragedy, and doing so is evil.

        2. “government has a responsibility to protect those people from the actions of a sick person”

          False statements like that are NEVER proven.

          Just because you say it, doesnt make it so, Comrade.

  13. https://twitter.com/Timcast/status/1384162163619614722?s=19

    Prosecution says

    “Maybe it was his enlarged heart, maybe not”

    WHAT

    lol

    ok reasonable doubt

    carry on

    1. Odd, his heart wasnt so dangerously “enlarged” till a cop deliberately kneeled on his neck to skyrocket his blood pressure.

      Funny, that.

  14. @CNN senior legal analyst

    https://twitter.com/thelauracoates/status/1384185457907355653?s=19

    Defense begins the closing by defining reasonable doubt, not with why #DerekChauvin is innocent. Think about that.

    #DerekChauvinTrial
    #GeorgeFloyd

    1. Did you catch the Judges psychological programming attempt before sending this to the Jury?

      he told them to NOT rely on hand written NOTEs, but their MEMORY

      Memory is faulty, thats what NOTES are for

      Then he played Social Activist from the Bench (or while hiding behind it, more like it) in advocating GENDER IDENTITY.

      Sick.

  15. RIP in Power, sweet prince.
    You’ll meet Applejack in heaven.
    Now giddy up there!
    From a devoted /mlp/ fan

    1. Your posts are getting stranger by the day; maybe you need to get out more?

  16. https://twitter.com/JackPosobiec/status/1384234348992364548?s=19

    ‘Countless killings’
    ‘Countless killings’
    ‘Countless killings’
    ‘Countless killings’
    ‘Countless killings’
    ‘Countless killings’
    ‘Countless killings’
    ‘Countless killings’

    It was 13

    “@NBCBLK
    With countless killings of Black people by police, the Chauvin trial is reopening fresh wounds: “It physically hurts.” [Link]”

    1. 1…
      2…
      3…
      4…
      5…
      6…
      7…
      8…
      9…
      10…
      11…
      uhhhhhhhhh?

      See, countless!

  17. Everyone of these assholes has been known to someone before they flipped out. Possibly with the exception of that guy in Vegas whose story has magically disappeared.

  18. The difficulty of predicting which of the country’s many angry oddballs are bent on murder is the main weakness of red flag laws as a response to mass shootings.

    “That’s why *all* guns must go, DUH!”

  19. Just another afront to the constitution and individual liberties perpetrated by both parties.

    1. Yes, the Democrat party and ReupblicanDemocrat party

      A Push-Me-Pull-You has Two Heads
      This is two of the other end joined in the middle.

  20. Background checks are not real gun control. Banning guns — all guns — is real gun control. Nothing short of that will work.

    1. And THAT won’t work either. They can’t keep drugs out of PRISONS for chrissake! So I am to infer that you wish to turn the USA into a giant prison to enact your [unreachable anyway] goal.

      Fuck off, slaver.

      1. “Refuse” to keep drugs out.

        There, fixed it for ya.

        They are making MONEY at it.

        Count de Money, History of the World, Mel Brooks

  21. The main problem with “Red Flag” laws is the gun control philosophy behind them:
    “We took his guns away, therefore he is no longer a danger to society.”

  22. Critical point:

    ” He has to prove by “a preponderance of the evidence” that he “is not dangerous.””

    Presumption of GUILT
    Guilty before being proven Innocent.

    There goes the entire Judicial system and Constitution!

  23. We should get rid of all laws because someone might get falsely accused and have their rights taken away. That’s how silly this all sounds. We are losing our minds. We are fetishizing gun rights. You literally can buy as many guns as you want or can afford. What’s wrong with us? You feel like you need a gun because everyone else has one. It won’t prevent tyranny from the state, but it will create armed factions and warlordism. Then you can say goodbye to your rights as you know them.

    1. Tell that to the people in Burma and Hong Kong.
      They have confiscated all the guns of the public, now the public is being properly oppressed.
      They’re fighting back with slingshots when they should have AK-47s good thing is

  24. Seems fair. Now do Trump for Jan 6th.

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