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Biden’s Federal ‘Red Flag’ Center Defies The Constitution In More Ways Than One

A Democrat-controlled Congress authorized the president to give grants to states that have red flag laws, but never was he authorized to establish a federal red flag center.


On Saturday, Vice President Kamala Harris touted the administration’s new National Extreme Risk Protection Order Resource Center, which will “support the effective implementation of state red flag laws” and “keep guns out of the hands of people who pose a threat to themselves or others.” But there is a problem: Congress never authorized the U.S. Department of Justice to create this resource center. The administration confuses “grants … to implement state … mental health courts, drug courts, veterans’ courts, and extreme risk protection order programs” with creating an entirely new center for one of these areas.

This isn’t the first time the Biden administration has gone beyond what the law allows and done more harm than good.

The Department of Justice press release claims that Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs, also known as red flag laws) will “reduce firearm homicides and suicides.” Surveys show likely voters support laws that “allow guns to be temporarily confiscated by a judge from people considered by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others” by at least 2-1 margins.

But despite what the Biden administration and gun control advocates claim, all 50 states and the federal government have long made it possible to take a dangerous person’s guns away. Civil commitment laws go by various names, such as the Baker Act in Florida or the 5150 code in California.

If you worry that someone is dangerous, you can tell the police your concerns. If the police agree that there is a “reasonable” chance the person is a danger to themselves or others, mental health professionals will evaluate the individual. If the professionals give their consent, an emergency court hearing is held. A lawyer is provided to those who cannot afford one. Judges have recourse to a wide range of options, such as outpatient mental health care or driver’s license suspension. Gun confiscation or involuntary commitment may also be options, but only after going through the proper legal process.

Difference with Red Flag Laws

Under red flag laws, a judge acts solely on the basis of a written complaint. He never talks to the person who made the complaint or the person against whom it was made. States vary on how quickly hearings must occur, but they all require that they take place within a month after one’s guns are taken away. But the steep cost of legal representation often deters defendants from seeking counsel, as lawyers can charge upwards of $10,000 for a hearing.

When told that red flag laws do not entail consultation of mental health experts and that there are no court hearings before guns are confiscated, public support appears to flip. A McLaughlin & Associates survey (commissioned by the Crime Prevention Research Center) of 1,000 likely voters found 29 percent support and 47 percent oppose these laws.

Gun confiscation isn’t a serious means of preventing suicides. People can commit suicide in many different ways, and places that have banned all guns or all handguns have seen no change in total suicides. The evidence shows suicide rates remain statistically unchanged or even slightly increased.

Simply talking to others is important in overcoming depression, but red flag laws may make people reluctant to discuss their feelings. For example, police officers experience work-related depression at high rates but may be less likely to talk about their mental health due to red flag laws. Take away officers’ ability to carry a gun, and they might lose their jobs.

One can also harm others without the use of a firearm, for instance, by driving a car into a crowd of people.

Allowing for easy gun confiscation can leave good, law-abiding people defenseless. Andrew Pollack, who lost his daughter in the 2017 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, recently had an Extreme Risk Protection Order used against him by a neighbor in rural Oregon. When Pollack finally had his hearing in court, the judge didn’t even need to hear a defense because there was no evidence that Pollack had threatened anyone. Unfortunately, while disarmed, he faced a mountain lion outside his home. His dog tangled with the mountain lion, requiring 50 stitches on his side. As is virtually always the case, there was no punishment for the neighbors bringing the false claim.

A Democrat-controlled Congress authorized the president to give grants to states that have red flag laws, but never was he authorized to establish a federal red flag center. This new Orwellian federal department is a threat to people in all 50 states and must be disbanded as quickly as it was established.

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