Government can be used to protect and increase personal liberty, or to restrict and destroy it. And so the battle goes. A recent strategy of those who want to destroy the RTKBA is the "Red Flag Laws" or "Extreme Risk Protection Orders" (ERPO). Hailed by several well-funded anti-2nd Amendment groups as "a new frontier" in the war against the 2nd Amendment, these laws allow government to confiscate the guns of people who have not committed a crime, nor have they received due process under the 5th Amendment, or the probable cause protections of the 4th Amendment.
In addition, several states are proposing laws to require background checks for all private purchases and other transfers as in Texas.
According to the Washington Post,
"In the wake of massacres similar to Wednesday's school shooting in Parkland, Fla., a small number of states have passed "red flag laws" that allow the seizure of guns before people can commit acts of violence.
California, Washington, Oregon, Indiana and Connecticut have statutes that can be used to temporarily take guns away from people a judge deems a threat to themselves or others. Lawmakers in 18 other states - including Florida - plus the District of Columbia have proposed similar measures.
At the federal level, Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced legislation last May that would encourage states to adopt the approach.
Mental illness, escalating threats, substance abuse and domestic violence are among the circumstances in which a judge can order weapon restrictions under the statutes."
This is not, however a Constitutional method for taking someone's private property. An article by Ammoland.com explains it this way:
"The issue that gun rights advocates have with ERPOs is that the court proceeding is held in secret without the gun owner being able to defend themselves against the charges.
The burden of proof in an ERPO hear
ing is very low. Any family member, roommate, or neighbor can go to the police to seek an order. Studies show that 98% of all warrants that police seek are approved by the courts. It has cost the accused upwards of $10,000 to get their gun rights back. Gun rights organizations such as Gun Owners of America consider these orders as violating the Due Process Clause of the Constitution.
Last month a Maryland man was shot in killed by police while they were trying to serve an ERPO. That man's sister took out the ERPO on him on what his niece described as "family being family." She stated her uncle was not a danger to anyone."
We at the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA.org) are strongly opposed to these laws for the reasons stated above, and for other reasons", said Sam Bushman, VP of Operations for Operations. According to Bushman, due process in these cases must be meticulously protected. Such protections would include:
- An opportunity for the accused to be present with counsel at any hearing on the petition to take Constitutional rights, and to present any evidence opposed to the granting of the petition, before final adjudication.
- "A probable cause" standard of proof, rather than a "preponderance of the evidence" bar before any red flag order could be signed by a judge, including a formal adjudication of mental illness.
- An opportunity for the accused to dispose of any weapons in any way the he designates, such as selling them, or giving them over to a relative, friend, or other trusted person who can lawfully possess and store them, after the above due process steps have taken place. This should be the preferred method of transferring the weapons from the control of the accused. Only when this requirement cannot be afforded to the accused for whatever reason, should law enforcement be able to sieze the guns. This is in keeping with the 4th Amendment, which guarantees the right to control, use, possess, and dispose of private property.
CSPOA urges all its members and friends to oppose these laws unless the needed changes mentioned above , are added to the legislative proposals.