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Red flags about red flag laws.

July 16, 2018

An article which appears on www.nj.com makes a comment relative to the way in which New Jersey’s new gun confiscation law, one of six new gun laws, is being implemented.

Apparently the guns were legally owned by a man whose son made some sort of comment at school that triggered (pardon the pun) someone into calling the police. The father said he “…was having a conversation, not making threats.”

Regular readers will remember Musings came out in favor of so-called red flag laws for people who are chronic problems for law enforcement.  It was part of a post noting that law enforcement had made dozens of visits to the Parkland shooter’s home for reports of violence, and there was apparently a law on the books that would have allowed them to temporarily confiscate his firearms and search the house.

Musings still stands by that opinion, specific to that set of circumstances. However, that doesn’t mean we should condone laws that attack the Second Amendment, and Parkland seems to be being wielded as a weapoin to do exactly that.

The article in question does not go into any detail about the comment the son made, to whom or why. It does say the school refused to let him attend his middle-school graduation and expelled him and  implies it was because of the attempted confiscation.

That doesn’t allow for any way to ascertain whether the police had probable cause for attempting (unsuccessfully, as it turned out) to confiscate the weapons, or whether the son had a record of making threatening statements. In short, both sides aren’t represented in the article.

The fact that the guns were not confiscated in the end would indicate that someone may have jumped to conclusions.

What it does do is to bring into question whether laws are being passed without due consideration of their consequences.

It also brings up questions about the rights of gun owners in the face of the hysteria about guns.

The man’s wife voluntarily allowed officers into the house without a search warrant. That meant that anything they found was fair game.

Most of us, particularly if we believe we or our family members have done nothing wrong, would probably have done the same thing the wife did. That is, be cooperative with the officers.

The police probably aren’t at fault here. They were told there was a threat made, and with Parkland still so fresh, and a brand-new law on the books to back them up, they probably did what they thought was right.

But with all the ginned up hysteria being hyped by the media, laws like this one need to be reviewed very carefully before passing them.

New Jersey already has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, as well as a culture of government intolerance on all things firearms related, among others.

Also not noted in the article is why the officers didn’t first take the boy in for questioning, but instead went directly to the home.

At the very least, due process would seem to require that officers have a search warrant, absent any active circumstances in progress at the time, i.e. a 911 call for assistance.

Do we need better school protection? Yes.

Does that mean every gun owner should be branded as a criminal? No.

It’s a hell of a lot to ask in a country that has clearly lost its ability and desire to think for itself, but applying a jumbo serving of common sense is in order here.

From → op-ed

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