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Are Gun Violence Restraining Orders Consistent With Due Process?

Such orders can easily be used to take away innocent people's Second Amendment rights.

InstagramInstagramThe idea of gun violence restraining orders (GVROs), presented as a way to disarm would-be mass shooters who are not currently barred from owning firearms, is gaining ground in the wake of last week's massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence argues that if Florida had a GVRO law, it could have thwarted Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland shooter. National Review's David French urges conservatives to consider supporting GVROs, which he argues can protect public safety while respecting the Second Amendment. These claims seem highly dubious to me.

The red flags that in retrospect identified Cruz as a future mass murderer were not so clear at the time, because they were not all visible to any single person or agency with the ability to act on them. Things might have been different if the FBI had followed up on a telephone tip it received on January 5 from "a person close to Nicolas Cruz." According to a statement the FBI released on Friday, "the caller provided information about Cruz's gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting."

The bureau says that information, which was received on the bureau's general tip line, "should have been forwarded to the FBI Miami Field Office, where appropriate investigative steps would have been taken." If that had happened, agents probably would have talked to the same people reporters have been interviewing since the shooting: Cruz's current and former neighbors, the couple who took him in after his mother died last November, his coworkers at a local Dollar Store, and staff and students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the target of his attack.

Such an investigation would have drawn together the various strands of Cruz's story: his disturbing social media comments, his volatility, his cruelty to animals, his fights and disciplinary record at school, his weapons, and his troubles at home, where his mother repeatedly called the police for help in managing him. Such an investigation would have revealed Cruz as a potentially dangerous person to be watched, if not someone actively plotting mass murder.

But that did not happen. So the question is, given what people knew before the attack, who would have sought a GVRO authorizing confiscation of Cruz's guns if that option had been available?

Probably not Cruz's mother, who let him keep his guns despite her problems with him. Probably not the police officers who came to the house at his mother's behest, who did not seem to view Cruz as a serious threat. Probably not the social workers who visited the home in 2016, who concluded there was little risk that Cruz would harm himself or someone else. Probably not the people he was living with at the time of the shooting, who made him keep his guns in a safe but said they did not realize how troubled he was.

While it's doubtful that a GVRO statute would have stopped Cruz, it is pretty clear that such laws give short shrift to due process and the Second Amendment, notwithstanding French's assurances to the contrary. French lists five features that a "well-crafted" GVRO law should have to properly balance public safety with civil liberties. The two leading models for such legislation—the laws California legislators enacted in 2014 and Washington voters approved in 2016—lack most of these safeguards.

French says a GVRO law "should limit those who have standing to seek the order to a narrowly defined class of people." In California, GVROs can be sought by police officers or "immediate family member[s]." The latter category includes spouses, domestic partners, current or former roommates, parents, step-parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, step-grandparents, siblings, step-siblings, siblings-in-law, children, stepchildren, children-in-law, and grandchildren. Washington's law added to that list "dating partners," baby mamas (or papas), former legal guardians, and all relatives, including aunts, uncles, and cousins. It also extended the deadline to seek an order for a former roommate (who could be an ex-spouse or ex-lover) from six months after moving out to a year.

French says a GVRO law "should require petitioners to come forward with clear, convincing, admissible evidence that the respondent is a significant danger to himself or others." In California, the standard for a temporary, three-week GVRO sought by a cop is "reasonable cause" to believe "the subject of the petition poses an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury" to himself or someone else. Other petitioners are supposed to show a "substantial likelihood" that "the subject of the petition poses a significant danger, in the near future, of personal injury" to himself or someone else. Washington's standard for a temporary order (limited to two weeks there) is similar: "reasonable cause to believe that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to self or others in the near future."

California does require the "clear and convincing" evidence that French thinks is appropriate when the petitioner seeks a one-year GVRO (which can be renewed annually). Washington, by contrast, requires the petitioner to show "by a preponderance of the evidence that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to self or others."

The latter standard is equivalent to more likely than not, meaning that any probability greater than 50 percent will suffice. Depending on what counts as "a significant danger," the actual probability that the subject of a GVRO will harm himself or anyone else could be quite low. If a 10 percent risk is significant, someone can lose his Second Amendment rights even if there is a 95 percent probability that he will never use a gun to harm himself or anyone else.

French says a GVRO law "should grant the respondent an opportunity to contest the claims against him." California and Washington do allow that, but only for a one-year order, not for a temporary order, which is issued without any adversarial process.

"In the event of an emergency, ex parte order," French adds, "a full hearing should be scheduled quickly—preferably within 72 hours." California and Washington require a hearing within three weeks and two weeks, respectively.

Finally, French says, "The order should lapse after a defined period of time unless petitioners can come forward with clear and convincing evidence that it should remain in place." In California and Washington, that defined period of time is a year, and Washington does not require clear and convincing evidence. The target of a GVRO can seek early termination of the order in both states. In Washington, he has the burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that he no longer poses a significant danger. As the ACLU of Washington noted in 2016, "It is unclear how persons would prove their lack of danger."

Other states need not copy California or Washington precisely, and perhaps future GVRO laws will include the safeguards that French recommends. But the whole point of these laws is to make disarming people easier than forcing them into psychiatric treatment, which already makes them ineligible to own a gun under federal law. The stronger the civil liberties protections, the less likely such laws are to stop any particular mass shooting.

In Cruz's case, for example, school officials may have been best positioned to appreciate the threat he posed, but school officials are not included on the list of people who can seek GVROs in California or Washington. Keeping that class "narrowly defined," as French recommends, is at odds with the goal of empowering anyone who might notice red flags to do something about it. Similarly, demanding clear and convincing evidence, rather than a preponderance of the evidence, might mean letting a future Nikolas Cruz keep his guns. Legislators seeking to prevent mass shootings have an incentive to make the criteria for GVROs as weak as possible.

Even if David French gets to write the law, there is much potential for abuse by malicious or mistaken petitioners, abetted by judges who will be inclined to err on the side of what they believe to be caution by revoking the Second Amendment rights of possibly dangerous people. And whatever the standard of proof, it relates not to the actual commission of a crime that has already occurred but to the possibility that the respondent might commit a crime (or commit suicide) in the future. Under these laws, people can lose the constitutional right to armed self-defense if a judge thinks they probably pose a "significant danger" to themselves or others. Conjoining those probabilities means the vast majority of people covered by these orders would never have used a gun to harm anyone.

French thinks "the GVRO is consistent with and recognizes both the inherent right of self-defense and the inherent right of due process." Given the lopsided tradeoffs required even by French's idealized version of GVROs, it is hard to see how that can be true.

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  • sarcasmic||

    My ex wife filed a Protection From Abuse on me a while back. There was no abuse, but the only criteria for issuing such an order is her feelings. So the cops came to my house and took my guns. A few weeks later she dropped it, after I hired a lawyer to prove my innocence (you are guilty until proven innocent in these kind of things), and I got my guns back.

    There was no "Due Process." No "process" at all. Except for a vengeful ex expressing her emotions to a sympathetic judge.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You let them in your house? They had a seizure warrant?

    But yeah, no Due Process until after they grab the guns.

  • sarcasmic||

    They don't need a warrant. It's like a Wellness Check. The constitution is suspended in cases like this.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Hm. I would not have let them through my gate onto my property.

    After annoying them by not being home for weeks on end, I would finally answer the buzz at my gate with "you cops have a warrant?"

    When they say "no". I say, "I will not let you violate my 2nd Amendment rights without a warrant based upon probable cause that I have committed a crime." Since I have not committed a crime, you are not coming onto my property.

    They would never find my guns anyway.

    If you live in a house where they can kick the door in, then I guess you're fucked.

  • sarcasmic||

    When the cops want to do something or go somewhere, your choices are to give in, or choose between the hospital and the morgue.

    It might get sorted out in court, if you have the coin, and no matter what the result the cops will face no consequences.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    True. Although, cops are less interested in doing unconstitutional things if there is a cost. Cops are mostly chicken shit. If more people fought police on unconstitutional things the police did, police would do less of it.

    Its sucks that you had to spend that kind of coin to get your guns back.

  • sarcasmic||

    It cost me about a grand. More than they guns are worth if you don't count sentimental value.

    Ex wives suck. I never wanted to get married, and this is why. I will never marry again.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Bummer.

    She was in the circle of trust, so even if you hid your guns, she could have alerted police where they were.

    Not all women are like that. I have a good one who likes me partly for my Libertarian principles.

    Find a mail order bride. Most have seen socialism first hand and some would be happy to be Libertarian.

  • You're a coward||

    "When the cops want to do something or go somewhere, your choices are to give in, or choose between the hospital and the morgue"

    We get it, you're a coward who won't actually protect his rights with his life, so I'm actually quite glad this happened to you.

    Save your pathetic excuses.

  • sarcasmic||

    you're a coward who won't actually protect his rights with his life

    Let me know when something is accomplished by standing up to the cops and depriving my daughter of her father. Please. Clue me in.

  • You're a coward||

    Yes, you're a bitch who wants others to protect his rights for him, and you'll hide behind your kid if you have to.

    I told you, we get it.

  • sarcasmic||

    The purpose of government is to protect my rights so I can spend my time doing productive things.

  • You're a coward||

    Yup, abrogate that responsibility.

    I told you, we get it.

  • sarcasmic||

    I hope you never reproduce.

  • You're a coward||

    Realization hitting you pretty hard, I see.

    Don't worry, you're anonymous, no one but you will know you're a coward who leaves the protection of his rights to others, and hides behind his kid.

  • R. K. Phillips||

    Gee, I thought that Second Amendment thingy was really to keep an oppressive government from, say, violating your Second Amendment rights.

  • Lester224||

    He's trolling you....

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Gotta make some hard choices but freedom isn't free.

  • silver.||

    Restraining orders are extremely easy to abuse. It's not dissimilar to Title IX investigations where one can easily lie without consequences. I really, really don't like that they came and took your guns. What a bunch of nonsense. It's so easy to keep a gun illegally in this case. Gun laws overwhelmingly disarm law-abiding citizens.

    Hell, even if somebody had obtained a "GVRO" against this shooter he still could've obtained weapons in any number of ways. The Columbine shooters used straw purchases. Since Silk Road got taken down new "dark web" shops appeared that, unlike Silk Road, sell weapons.

  • Curt||

    I'm not questioning your choice in how you dealt with the situation. But, is there anything in process that prevents you from simply presenting a 9mm and keeping everything else hidden? Did they actually conduct a search or was it a case where they were only aware of what you showed them?

  • shawn_dude||

    Im the grand scheme of things, your inconvenience at a temporary seizure of your guns is nothing compared to what could have happened had your ex wife's complaint been based on a real risk to her life. "My ex wife is a jerk" isn't a good enough reason to deny others in real harms way the protection this temporary measure might afford them.

    Hiring a lawyer is due process, btw. These aren't plush toys or a set of wrenches.

    When cops set up drunk driver checkpoints, they inconvenience everyone as a price for reducing the risk of drunk driving on that stretch of road.

  • epsilon given||

    Of course, in the grand scheme of things, she could have accused him of planning to cause her harm, and once his guns are taken away, send her boyfriend over to club him with a baseball bat.

    Temporarily seizing guns isn't just an inconvenience. It can be as much a matter of life and death as the danger we're trying to prevent.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If they would finally make real common sense thought crime legislation we could use asset forfeiture to take people's guns. Let's think of solutions people, not reasons why we can't do anything.

  • DajjaI||

    Stop diagnosing kids with 'autism'. Might as well stamp 'Mass Shooter' on their forehead. The 'treatment' consists mostly of bullying that tells kids, "Your brain is defective and you'll never have normal social interactions but we'll teach you some 'tricks' you can use to pass." And bullying anyone who points this point with "Well you're probably autistic too." As will now be demonstrated:

  • epsilon given||

    I've known enough people with autism to know that the diagnosis is real. Having said that, we shouldn't stigmatize their weirdness: there are far more autistic kids who won't cause anyone harm, than there are autistic kids who will shoot up schools.

    And I happen to be a normal person who, because of my introverted tendencies and shyness (and no small amount of being bullied myself) have a difficult time talking with people. I don't mind learning "tricks" I can use to talk to other people, and be somewhat normal.

    Incidentally, the same goes with schizophrenics. My sister has voices in her head that tell her to harm my children. While she'll never be allowed to babysit my kids (unless the voices clearly go away), she has them under enough control that I don't fear visiting her with my children. Granted, for now, my sister should be kept from guns, but she should also be kept from knives and other dangerous implements.

    The same also goes for people who have depression, particularly since depression is often temporary: we shouldn't permanently deprive someone of their right to keep and bear arms, just because they are feeling seriously sad.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The 2nd Amendment does not allow government to do it.

    When there is a shooting and most of the victims are still not even in the ground yet, never let that tragedy go to waste.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    The basic problem here is similar to the problem with "separate but equal" or the literacy tests for voting.

    You've got what might seem to be a reasonable accommodation, but the people pushing for it aren't reasonable, they are enemies of the right that would be compromised.

    So, however reasonable the accommodation might appear in theory, in practice it's guaranteed to be abusive, because the people who want it, WANT abusive.

  • sarcasmic||

    But they've got good intentions! They want to curb gun violence committed by violent guns! If you disagree then you have bad intentions! You want more gun violence committed by violent guns!

  • John||

    What starts with "let's not let the guy hearing voices telling him to murder people have a gun" ends up being "let's not let anyone who says or does anything we don't like have a gun". You know that is where that ends.

    If the people making these sorts of arguments could be trusted to act in good faith or do anything other than use whatever control is agreed to as a wedge for more control, you might be able to do something about really dangerous people having guns. But you can't. What is today's compromise is tomorrow's "loophole that much be closed". No solution is ever going to be 100% effective. And the gun grabbers will use any failure as an excuse for more gun control. So, basically, fuck them. They are not serious people making an honest argument and are unworthy of debating much less compromising with.

  • sarcasmic||

    They are not serious people making an honest argument and are unworthy of debating much less compromising with.

    That pretty much describes anything coming from the left. The most-used tool in their box is dishonesty.

    "We only want equal rights for gays! We'll never use that to redefine marriage!" for example.

  • R. K. Phillips||

    They should outlaw marriage, obviously.

  • epsilon given||

    You say that, but there are people on the Left who want to do precisely that, and see the redefinition of marriage as a way to do that!

  • sarcasmic||

    Did you check out Them Crooked Vultures?

  • John||

    I did. And they are good. Thanks.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm starting to think that anything with Josh Homme's stamp on it is worth checking out.

    Queens of the Stone Age, Desert Sessions, Eagles of Death Metal, and of course TCV.

  • silver.||

    "What is today's compromise is tomorrow's "loophole that must be closed""

    This is exactly it. And I can't even say it's a tinfoil theory anymore; they want to pass intentionally ineffective regulations so they can justify more gun laws further down the road. Every move is calculated. The way these hyenas dance in the blood of victims is disgusting. Not only do they have no intention of stopping gun violence, they are actively hoping for more so they can leverage the emotions and fear of well-meaning citizens.

    Absolutely abhorrent.

  • Kivlor||

    If the people making these sorts of arguments could be trusted to act in good faith or do anything other than use whatever control is agreed to as a wedge for more control, you might be able to do something about really dangerous people having guns. But you can't. What is today's compromise is tomorrow's "loophole that much be closed". No solution is ever going to be 100% effective. And the gun grabbers will use any failure as an excuse for more gun control.

    This pretty much sums up why I can't get behind a GVRO. It sounds lovely when you say "hey, this guy is at a noted risk to kill himself or someone else because he says he's going to, so we are going to temporarily tell him he can't buy a gun, then get him help, and then he can own all the guns he wants." Even most of the farthest right-wing pro gun folks can agree with that. The problem is that it isn't going to stop there. It's going to be the wedge to say "oh, you were diagnosed with depression 10 years ago? No guns for you ever" or to start some even worse version of "Wisconsin's Shame" where the police start shaking down the political opponents of the union / whoever is in charge.

  • LarryA||

    What starts with "let's not let the guy hearing voices telling him to murder people have a gun" ends up being "let's not let anyone who says or does anything we don't like have a gun". You know that is where that ends.
    Not quite. The last step is, "Anyone who wants to own a gun must be crazy."

  • shawn_dude||

    This is a load of serious B.S.

    You demonize people who are in favor of both their second amendment rights and background checks and other safety regulations on deadly weapons in order to make yourself look reasonable by saying you don't want any safety regulations on your deadly weapons.

    But, you know, they're "enemies" and you have a "second amendment solution," right?

  • epsilon given||

    I'm not at all confident that background checks have prevented any harm from occurring. It may have, but I'm convinced that any effects we might notice is merely statistical noise.

    Seriously, just how do background checks keep felons from owning guns, when most gun violence (heck, most violence) is committed by felons who are forbidden from owning guns?

  • John||

    The answer such as there is one is restraining orders against people and places. You don't have a constitutional right to go somewhere where you have no need to be there and are not wanted. You also have no constitutional right to be around someone who doesn't want to be around you. In a lot of these cases, these people focus on their target for a long time before they actually do something. The school knew this kid was dangerous and a real threat. They should have gotten a restraining order against him being anywhere near that school. Then had he showed up before the shooting, which I bet he did, he could have been arrested for that and hopefully committed after the court realized he was hearing voices and having homicidal thoughts.

    A restraining order against having a gun won't do any good since guns are so available through means that are not controlled by the government.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Because a lot of our mental health (aka, "loony bin") facilities have been shut down, primarily due to lack of funding, a lot of these guys are getting locked up in prisons now. This is one area where libertarians ought to bend on state support for mental health treatments facilities--I suspect it's not really more humane to put them in a hole in crappy facilities with violent individuals, as opposed to a padded room where they can be monitored and treated on a regular basis.

  • Kivlor||

    This is one place I'm not terribly opposed to the government intervening. It would be better if it was done through charity though IMO. Of course libertarians will often have an issue with this, because whether you have the government intervene and place someone in a government loony bin, or if families intervene to place someone in a private/charitable loony bin, we are talking about involuntarily incarcerating someone which would generally be seen as a violation of the NAP.

  • JudoPete||

    The Catholic Church ran mental institutions for decades. That didn't turn out so well; not unlike mental facilities ran by the government. Then again, the Catholic Church is so large, corrupt, and unwieldy that they operate not unlike a government.

  • epsilon given||

    This is indeed a tricky issue. Part of the problem is in defining custody for someone who is mentally unable to function well in society. For children, it's fairly easy to set up the boundaries: they typically start out mentally incompetent, and then (hopefully) grow into competency.

    For people who lose their competency, it's a bit harder to define the boundaries, and this is complicated by the fact that some people live just barely enough on the boundary that sometimes they're competent, sometimes they aren't.

    I'd *like* to use homelessness as a factor, but it can't be the only one: too many incompetent people are just functional enough to avoid homelessness, and there are homeless people who are competent, but just need some assistance to get back onto their feet!

  • Ken Shultz||

    The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments say that no one can be deprived of their liberty without due process of law.

    Due process includes legal representation, a finding by a neutral party based only on the information presented, the ability to cross examine witnesses, etc.

    The neutral party is usually a jury of your peers, "peers" meaning that the decision isn't made by the government. A jury of your peers is not a bunch of elected politicians making a law to deny you the protection of the Second Amendment. To deprive you of the protection of the Second Amendment, they need to take you to court, allow you a jury of your peers, let you have legal representation, let you cross examine the witnesses against you, etc., etc.

    Even in cases of the insane being committed to a mental institution, that process is either the result of a guilty by reason of insanity finding by a jury or administered by a court because someone has been found to be a violent threat to themselves or others. Such people may not have committed a crime (or have the capacity to stand trial), but, even then, a judge needs to sign off on the commitment--and then the mental hospital is required to prove to the court, periodically, that the patient is still a threat to himself or others.

  • sarcasmic||

    Due process takes time, and in certain cases where the emotions of the person complaining are elevated, that time is too much time! So we must ignore the rights of the accused and do something!

  • Michael Ejercito||

    It is a good thing the U.S. did not succumb to this when there were rumors of Japanese spies and sabotuers infiltrating the West Coast in 1942.

  • shawn_dude||

    IANAL -- but I'm pretty sure you have this wrong.

    Due process means you get to go through the prescribed legal process. Judicial restraining orders that provide prior-restraint are common in some circumstances where the alleged harm could happen before the court completes the legal process. It requires a certain level of evidence; it's not arbitrary.

    Otherwise, you can tie up a judgement in legal proceedings for years while you execute whatever harm you're being accused of.

  • Ken Shultz||

    So, no, "due process" is not a bunch of elected politicians deciding to use the power of the state to deny people their rights by way of a law because doing so is popular or smart.

    Due process means that depriving people the protection of their rights--in all circumstances--requires, at least, the decision of an impartial judge considering the specific circumstances of a defendant. Due process is not a popularity contest in congress without even considering the specific circumstances of a particular individual.

  • sarcasmic||

    "Due Process" is something that happens after the fact. The person can regain their rights after they prove they are innocent. That is the process.

  • R. K. Phillips||

    Actually, it should occur BEFORE the fact; the entire "no prior restraint" on the First Amendment is based on that.

  • Rhywun||

    What happened to "never talk to a cop". The FBI are cops. Anyone advocating volunteering information to them sets off my alarm bells.

  • John||

    It is not like they will ever do anything with the information except maybe later charge you for lying to investigators. Every single one of these mass shooters, which the exception of the guy in Vegas, have been well known to law enforcement and obviously dangerous. And they never did a God damn thing with the information they had.

    It would be nice if the media would take a break from manipulating traumatized teenagers in support of the great gun banning cause for a few minutes and discuss that fact a bit. God forbid we ever hold law enforcement accountable for any failure no matter how obvious or damaging.

  • sarcasmic||

    And they never did a God damn thing with the information they had.

    What are they supposed to do? Seriously.

    Charge them with pre-crime?

    How many thousands of people fit the same profile but never do anything?

    Do we lock up every loner who has bitter feelings?

    This is a progressive's wet dream! Lock up all libertarians!

  • John||

    Making threats is a crime. If I go down and tell someone I am coming back with a gun to shoot the place up, that is a threat and is a crime. Second, these guys are always batshit crazy and could have been involuntarily committed even by today's standards. Adam Lanza and this guy were both psychotic and telling everyone how they intended to harm people. That is enough to involuntarily commit someone.

    The guy in Orlando and the idiots in Boston were all three terrorists who made no secret of their desire to kill for the jihad. That is also a crime or should have at least gotten the Boston guys deported.

    Some guys you can't stop. I don't think there is any way they could have stopped the idiot and his mail-order bride in California or the nut in Vegas. But I think they could have stopped this guy and Lanza for sure and probably the Orlando shooter if they had given enough of a fuck to do so.

  • sarcasmic||

    Let's go with the assumption that what you say is true.

    How many innocent people would get caught in the net?

    Sure you prevent some heinous acts of violence, but at what cost?

    Thousands and thousands of people fit that profile. Most of whom are spouting off, rather than revealing intent.

    You can't jail people for what they might do. Not in a free(ish) country.

  • John||

    If I am telling people that I am hearing voices in my head and I plan to shoot a bunch of people, am I really innocent? I am willing to live with the prospect of going to jail if I start threatening to kill people. I don't think that is much of an infringement on my freedom. I am not talking about someone acting weird. I am mean someone making direct threats like Lanza and this idiot did.

  • sarcasmic||

    If I am telling people that I am hearing voices in my head and I plan to shoot a bunch of people, am I really innocent?

    Yes. Until you do something, you are really innocent. Really.

    Hearing voices is not a crime. Acting on those voices is.

  • sarcasmic||

    If I am telling people that I am hearing voices in my head and I plan to shoot a bunch of people, am I really innocent?

    Yes. Until you do something, you are really innocent. Really.

    Hearing voices is not a crime. Acting on those voices is.

  • sarcasmic||

    And I mean that doubly!

  • Horatio||

    I thought the article did a good job describing the hypothetical actions the FBI could have taken with the tips they were given. No rights trampled, no undue burdens placed, etc. But who reads the articles amiright?!?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yeah, if the Air Force isn't reporting court martial verdicts to the FBI database, and the Miami field office isn't even being notified when someone calls with specific information about a brewing mass shooting, then reforming law a, b, and c, probably isn't the solution.

    This is like taking the Confederate flag down over the statehouse in response to a church shooting--as if one thing had to do with the other.

    Making credible threats on YouTube + witness testimony by the person who was close to him should have landed him in front of a judge for arraignment or commitment to a mental institution. They're trying to change what would have happened to him once he got in front of the judge, but he never even got there.

    If he had made it to an arraignment, this threat could have been diffused using constitutional due process procedures already in place. He would have been given a trial, or . . . any lawyer who say the evidence and testimony against him would have at least requested a 72-hour hold in a mental hospital to observe his symptoms.

    Depriving everyone else of their due process rights because the FBI dropped the ball and never investigated him is absurd. Taking a flag down from over the capitol building might make more sense--because at least doing that doesn't violate anyone's constitutional rights.

  • shawn_dude||

    There are a lot of failures here and some of them require legal reforms to fix.

    1) Trump killed an executive order that gave Medicare/Medicaid permission to share certain health information for people with specific types of mental illness with the background check database. (You could put a hold on gun purchases for certain types of mental illness.) Seriously. He made it harder to keep guns out of the hands of crazies.

    2) Every gun should be registered and the police should have access to that information. If the FBI knew this kid had over 10 rifles and they got this tip, they might have been more willing to ask a few questions.

    We intentionally make it difficult for law enforcement to identify and intervene in these kinds of tragedies out of some conspiracy-laced idea that the guv'mint is commin fer our guns. Heck, the governor of freaking Texas thought Obama was going to *invade* his state. You can't make this sh!t up.

  • R. K. Phillips||

    1: Read the real story, and not from CNN. It was an executive order that trampled rights. Read that order.
    2: No. No, and NO. I have over ten rifles, so effing what?
    You trust the government waaaaaay too much. WE are the boss of THEM, ya know.

  • Longtobefree||

    No.
    Next question?

  • Hank Phillips||

    Ask yourself this: would you want "just anybody"--including someone declared guilty of owning a plant leaf--to be allowed to exercise Second Amendment rights?

  • shawn_dude||

    Everyone should be able to exercise that right until they prove they aren't responsible to. Is this a trick question?

    We're quicker at taking away voting rights than gun rights. I think we have it backwards.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Explain how we take away voting rights.

  • ||

    Personally, I've never regarded the 2A as being specifically about literally carrying a gun. The notion that 'due process' and the fundamental right to defend oneself are two separable propositions is scary on it's face and makes 'end gun violence' seem like a facade and due process a whimsical fabrication.

  • Michael Cook||

    In my state even if the "victim" recants her initial accusations made in the heat of the moment, the case marches forward because victim's advocates working for the state take over and become the victim. The theory is that the original victim can't be trusted. Her word no longer matters, so the case morphs from he said/she said to he said/the state said.

    The state is a witness who was not present at the alleged incident, but no matter.

    Where this femi-nazi type legal system becomes truly malicious is when the accused is law enforcement or military personnel. Effectively, this means they can no longer do their career since the Lautenberg amendment passed making misdemeanors sufficient to bar touching a firearm for life. I've seen military members with 17 years in and on the brink of a pension get dumped out in the street with nothing because a spouse has a red cheek which she claims was slapped. Too late she realizes that the pension was important to her as well, even if a divorce is in the cards, but too bad. The case marches forward without her. If she shows up as a witness for the defense she will be mocked and degraded by the (usually) feminist prosecutor.

  • JFree||

    But the whole point of these laws is to make disarming people easier than forcing them into psychiatric treatment

    IOW - let's do the usual - pretend to solve a different problem so we can ignore the real problem. I doubt 'psychiatric treatment' is actually a solution to much at all but it does require the due process stuff. The better option imo is to restore the freaking organized militia.

    I understand the US has an absolutely crappy history of making that work beyond just inserting all the specific detailed requirements into the freaking Constitution. And that the only thing that seems to unify the clowns to the left and jokers to the right is their utter silence about restoring the freaking organized militia. What a useless bunch of morons Americans are.

  • John||

    The only real solution to this stuff, such as there is one, is for more people to be armed and to be able to shoot back in these situations. Some of these guys are suicidal and nothing is going to deter them. But some are not. The guy in Florida wasn't. As soon as the cops showed up he dropped his gun and ran and then surrendered. Had someone had a gun and confronted him, chances are he would not have shot anyone or a lot fewer than he did.

  • sarcasmic||

    But, but, but laws are magic!

    I mean, when a sign that says "Gun Free Zone" is put up around a piece of land, that makes that land safe!

    No one will violate the sign!

    Someone intent upon murder will see that sign and say "I don't want to do time for ignoring the sign" and go home!

    It's magic!

  • JFree||

    Sure - the solution is to make sure that everyone is able to kill someone else - without hesitation or mistakes. And the best way to make that happen is obvious too - just arm everyone and put them into a stressful situation.

    No training is necessary. It happens by magic.

  • Curly4||

    If a gun owner has given reason to believe that the gun owner is a danger to self or to others then the gun that is owned could be temporarily removed but that would have to be followed up with a court trial to establish this danger. Otherwise no.

  • Lester224||

    From CDC study July 20 2017:

    "The CDC analyzed the murders of women in 18 states from 2003 to 2014, finding a total of 10,018 deaths. Of those, 55 percent were intimate partner violence-related, meaning they occurred at the hands of a former or current partner or the partner's family or friends. In 93 percent of those cases, the culprit was a current or former romantic partner."

    From a Nov 2011 Nat Bureau of Statistics study:

    "More than two-thirds of spouse and ex-spouse homicide victims between 1980 and 2008 were killed with firearms."

    From National Institute of Justice study 2006:

    Approximately 20% of the 1.5 million people who experience intimate partner violence annually obtain civil protection orders. Source: National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, "Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey," (2000).

    Approximately one-half of the restraining orders obtained by women against intimate partners who physically assaulted them were violated. Source: National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, "Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey," (2000).

    So, restraining orders help, but only somewhat.

  • shawn_dude||

    So, there's a greater than 50% chance that a woman has good reason to fear the person she's filed a restraining order against. (IOW: we should generally give them the benefit of the doubt.)

    But women tend to not take advantage of restraining orders (your 20% figure) and those that do have a 50/50 chance of things still going badly for them.

    If you can place the former partner's guns in escrow while they figure this out legally, the likelihood of her dying probably drops quite a bit.

  • nooneuno||

    This Cruz guy is kind of the poster child for someone who is an obvious danger to other people. Unfortunately most of these shooters do not display the giant flashing billboard full of of red flags that he did. Adam Lanza never displayed any violent tendencies towards anyone.

  • JFree||

    Adam Lanza never displayed any violent tendencies towards anyone.

    Not according to the FBI documents released a few months ago - Seattle Times

    One instance where a man reported to the Newtown PD that Lanza had a gun and was planning to kill kids at that school - 4 YEARS before it happened. Another with a woman who knew Lanza online - where he compiled lists/details of spree killings and mass murders.

    In both of these cases, and probably most others imo, these are boys who are way too much in their own worlds, lack an actual father - and we no longer have an automatic conscription system for even a militia or reserve system (which is precisely the sort of thing that would attract boys fascinated with guns/fire and blowing things up - and would get them out of their fucking heads so they can grow up).

  • Michael Cook||

    First of all, we must make schools secure. Israel did it. We can do it.

    (1) One point of entry for all students and staff. In cold climates, all bulky clothes go on a tagged conveyer belt at that time off to a dedicated storage building.

    (2) No back packs. Textbooks either stay at home or stay at school. A ubiquitous e-book does the traveling. Notebooks must also be electronic. Very limited cosmetics. Medicines and inhalers must be checked with a nurse.

    (3) Armed check in monitors. Automated observer walk-through body scanners (not as precise as airport models, but faster and will detect if two or more students break down an AR-15 and hide the bigger bits in their pant legs.)

    (4) No more mainstreaming youth who chronically cause trouble, no matter what meds they are on the honor system to take every day. They need to be schooled in a very special facility. The Cruz shooter in Florida loved guns, but if denied firearms he would have eventually killed someone with an ordinary object he weaponized.

    (5) The backbone of Israeli security relies on the personal interviewer. A trained interviewer with access to complete, un-redacted behavior records will stop 99% of assaults. The decision of such interviewers must be very, very difficult to over-turn by lawyers or uncourageous administrators.

  • shawn_dude||

    Maybe turning our schools into another TSA nightmare is the wrong approach. I mean, if you want to raise a new generation that questions government authority and is leery of a police state, raising them under those conditions 5 says a week for 12 years is probably not going to help.

  • Longtobefree||

    Minor detail;
    Israel has a population of around 8.8 million.
    The US has a population of around 326 million.
    Those types of security do not scale up that well, especially the trained interrogators.

  • epsilon given||

    OOOORRRR, we could just make it legal for responsible adults to carry guns onto school campuses, no questions asked. It's kindof hard to carry off a mass shooting when you know people are going to shoot back.

    OOOORRRR, we can bring rifle teams and competitions back to school. There was a time where everyone going hunting brought their rifles to school, and would also compete using a range on school grounds, and no one gave it a second thought.

    OOOORRRR, we could just home school everyone, or at least go back to a 1-room schoolhouse model. It's kindof hard (albeit not impossible) to have a mass shooting when your targets are scattered across neighborhoods. Particularly if, in addition to this, you don't know whether or not the teachers are going to be armed.

  • jelabarre||

    The problem I have is the phrasing "danger to others OR THEMSELVES". How does one go about determining that anyway? "Oh look, that guy is flogging himself on the back with something flail-like. He's obviously a danger to himself!!!' No, he's working in a garden infested with bottle-flies, and that loose bundle of straw works very well to chase them off his back. Ultimately, in the end, it shouldn't be anybody else's business if he harms himself anyway.

  • shawn_dude||

    Mental health professionals, online posts about going out in a blaze of glory, yelling "shoot me" at a cop, etc.

  • Empress Trudy||

    A narc'ing society? Hmm ok. Harass anyone you want with a few calls to the mental health-gun-cops.

  • shawn_dude||

    If my neighbors were cooking meth, I'd narc. If they were building bombs, I'd narc. In fact, any serious crime going on around me, I'd narc in a heartbeat. So should you. It's not just a crime when it happens to you; it's a crime no matter who it happens to and it hurts society.

    Or, if you'd like a libertarian argument: the cost of violent crime is high in terms of taxes and insurance premiums, but also comes with external costs that affect society in general. As long as everyone is given due process, a temporary restriction on gun ownership and purchase is a reasonable price to pay.

  • R. K. Phillips||

    I agree; in fact, I have indeed cooperated with police (and FBI) on a couple of criminal matters (I wasn't involved in them.) That's what we pay them for.
    I've also managed to go three score and one, without being arrested. It's pretty easy.

  • rhkennerly||

    This whole discussion is the root of the problem. Gun people blame the mental health system, but resist emergency measures to secure weapons until a psy eval can take place, afraid to go along with any measure they fear could ultimately be used against them...even if they are a danger.

    In Heller, the gun enthusiasts' favorite associate justice wrote that the 2nd amendment, like every other freedom, is not an unalloyed freedom. Restriction can well be put in place regarding tome, place, & circumstances.

    The truth is we gun owners had better come up with some ideas to help with this situation before the general public does it for us.

    We're not going to be able to hide behind "nothing will work to end school shootings" for much longer. This nation became great doing the impossible. If solutions don't come from us, other's solutions will eventually be imposed on us.

  • epsilon given||

    And part of the problem with that is that anti-gun people want to make the types of "mental defects" that disqualify a person from owning guns to be as wide as possible, so that as many people can be banned as possible.

    If anti-gun types weren't so eager in their efforts to take as many guns out of the hands of civilians as possible, this wouldn't be as big of a problem as it is!

  • LarryA||

    The other problem with Gun Violence Restraining Orders is that they are "Gun Violence" ROs.
    "Joe says he's going to crash his van into a school bus!"
    "Okay, we'll get a GVRO and go confiscate his guns."
    "Wait. What?"
    So how do GVROs work? Let's say Joe's vengeful ex-spouse knows he's about to leave on a once-in-a-lifetime hunting trip. In California, it seems, as soon as she calls, the police can get a GVRO warrant. Then they send the SWAT team to Joe's house. Joe gets handcuffed, for officer safety, and he watches cops ransack his home and haul his collection of (sometimes very valuable) firearms, and ammunition, out the door and junk them into a van. Then the police write him a hasty receipt, unhook him, and leave.
    Joe looks up and down the street, at all his neighbors watching, and closes what's left of his front door. Now he can calm his kids down, hire a lawyer (if he has thousands of dollars for a retainer) and start a legal marathon to recover his property.
    California's experience in 2016, 86 21-day GVROs, only 10 of which needed extending for a year. If the guns were quickly returned the other 76 times, then about 88 percent of the time the GVSO was probably unnecessary.

  • LarryA||

    Now, notice what's missing? With a California GVRO, there are no mental health professionals involved. No one makes any effort to evaluate Joe, and determine if he is actually dangerous.
    If Joe is dangerously unhinged, turning him loose after a violent SWAT confrontation doesn't sound very therapeutic, does it? But his guns are gone, so Joe's harmless, right?
    Over the last 50 years, the three worst (by far) mass murders in the U.S., 9-11, the Murrah Federal Building, and the Happy Land Nightclub, were all "gun-free."
    If Joe is professionally and legally evaluated, and deemed too psychotic or angry to be trusted with a firearm, just maybe it isn't his gun that needs to be locked up.

  • m.EK||

    GVRO is a RULE called a "law". Any of the things legislators write are rules called "laws".
    The system was/is in place to snag many if not most of these types of people and problems. That the governments bureaucracy is so inept is not surprising, it is GOVERNMENT!
    Here is the most disturbing bit of this article. The second Amendment "rights" is mentioned many times. The second Amendment tells the federal government, their employees, and contractors what they can NOT legislate,decree, or "rule" on. That the author is unaware of this and apparently thinks that the second Amendment is something that government can play with or "interpret" is the real problem. That and the apparent disregard for the drugs involved.
    Everyone of the mass shooters for the past 25 years were on or just coming off of the psycho, psychiatric drugs the AMA seems to want to push on everyone!
    Folks, the devil is in the details. The first 10 Amendments are mis-named the "Bill of Rights". They do not convey "rights"! They tell the federal government to stay the BLEEP out of our personal lives. "These are the chains that bind them" is the quote to look up and ponder.
    Shooters want a couple of things, attention and "soft targets".
    The pharmacological consistency with these assholes should not be disregarded just because of the money involved for the assholes that own the industries of media and drugs!

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