by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
President Biden says gun violence is a public health epidemic, and that his plans to address it are all about gun safety, not gun control. To get there, he’s proposed numerous executive actions, including the imposition of what are called “red flag laws.” This is from the White House fact sheet on gun control:
The Justice Department, within 60 days, will publish model “red flag” legislation for states. Red flag laws allow family members or law enforcement to petition for a court order temporarily barring people in crisis from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others. The President urges Congress to pass an appropriate national “red flag” law, as well as legislation incentivizing states to pass “red flag” laws of their own. In the interim, the Justice Department’s published model legislation will make it easier for states that want to adopt red flag laws to do so.
Here in North Carolina, Democrat legislators, including Rep. Grier Martin of Wake County, have filed a bill to enact a red flag law. The News & Observer editorial board agrees with the proposal in this editorial.
“It’s very important to keep this conversation going,” Martin told the Editorial Board. He said House Bill 525 shows there is a way to protect people without curtailing Second Amendment rights “and this is exactly what it would look like.”
The law would allow a family member, a current or former spouse or partner, law enforcement or a health-care provider to request an extreme risk protection order (ERPO), a court order similar to those issued in domestic violence cases. The ERPO would allow guns to be temporarily confiscated from someone deemed a danger to themselves or others. A court hearing in which all involved parties can participate would determine whether the order is to be lifted or extended.
Here’s the problem: unless very narrowly drawn with an eye toward protecting the due process rights of the accused, as well as protecting the safety of the accuser, red flag laws are ripe for abuse. I talked about the fine line we need to walk with constitutional law professor Greg Wallace of Campbell Law School. He joined me on WPTF radio, where I co-host a radio show. We began with Professor Wallace reacting to President Biden’s red flag law recommendation.
Let’s hope federal and state lawmakers engage in reasoned debate. Threats by unhinged people are real. So are false accusations, particularly when it comes to broken relationships. Watch an episode or two of Judge Judy and you will see examples of both.
Outside of his own executive actions, President Biden also urged Congress to act on gun control.
Last month, a bipartisan coalition in the House passed two bills to close loopholes in the gun background check system. Congress should close those loopholes and go further, including by closing “boyfriend” and stalking loopholes that currently allow people found by the courts to be abusers to possess firearms, banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, repealing gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability, and investing in evidence-based community violence interventions.
The president seems to place high priority on banning ‘assault weapons’ and going after gun manufacturers. Listen to him discuss both.
What about that ‘assault weapon’ ban the president is endorsing? Here’s what Professor Wallace told me on WPTF about the “disinformation” the president is spreading.
As you heard above, President Biden asserts that gun manufacturers are immune from lawsuits. Professor Wallace says that’s not accurate. He explains why.
We often also hear about the ‘gun show loophole.’ What is that? Is it real? And what does North Carolina law say about sales at gun shows? Professor Wallace separates fact from fiction.
So here we are. The president has declared gun violence a “public health epidemic.” My concern is that by using that phrase — and by playing on fear rather than fact — the president and his Leftist gun control allies will circumvent discussion and take action to limit the right of law abiding citizens to own a gun and to infringe on the due process rights of the accused.