Missouri State Representative Tony Lovasco set the record straight on so-called “red flag” laws in a piece for The Hill.
Last week, he penned a strong critique against red flag gun confiscation orders, explaining how they’re a gross violation of basic civil liberties.
Lovasco noted that “alarming number of elected officials from both major political parties have embraced the idea of so-called “red flag laws.”
At first glance, “these laws claim to make society safer by providing an expedited and streamlined process to keep firearms out of the hands of unstable or potentially violent individuals.”
However, Lovasco sees through this ruse. He believes that red flag laws sound bad “even on paper.”
The Missouri State Representative expanded:
Sounds good on paper, right?
Actually, no. It sounds terrible (even on paper). Any time a proposal aims to “keep guns out of the hands of X”, there’s a 99.995 percent chance that “X” will be terribly defined, subjectively determined, and ultimately purely arbitrary in nature. Proponents of gun control (and make no mistake, red flag laws are gun control) want you to think, “I’m not like them. This isn’t about me.
As a solid liberty conservative, Lovasco knows what’s really at play when dealing with red flag laws—due process.
He stated the following:
But you are like them, and it is about you. It’s about everyone.
Hopefully you’ll never commit a mass shooting, murder, or violent assault. But while you might not have a criminal connection to such individuals, you do share at least one thing in common: you both have unalienable rights. The right to face your accuser. The right to due process. The right to protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Every one of these rights are explicitly violated under red flag laws.
Unlike many other conservatives, Lovasco understands how the legislative process works, especially when it comes to legislation that is crafted out of desperation. In the case of red flag laws, this entails potential due process violations that many red flag legislation proponents aren’t even aware of, which Lovasco spells outs eloquently:
Such laws often allow a judge to issue an order of confiscation “ex parte”, meaning without you present. Because it’s a civil process, you aren’t entitled to a public defender, or even afforded the opportunity to defend yourself. Once a protective order is issued, law enforcement are dispatched to search your property and seize your weapons – without criminal charges ever being filed, or even probable cause that an actual crime has been committed.
Additionally, the petition for a red flag confiscation order can be based on the flimsiest of claims—ranging from a bitter spouse to a disgruntled neighbor. Lovasco went into further detail:
To make matters worse, Red Flag hearings can be adjudicated based on uncorroborated claims made by a single individual. Perhaps it’s an angry spouse, jealous co-worker, or disgruntled neighbor. All it takes is for someone to make a convincing argument that you are a danger to yourself or others, and your property is taken from you and you lose your right to defend yourself.
In the same vein, the requirements for evidence are quite paltry. In fact, the mere suspicion that an individual is dangerous is enough for them to have their firearms confiscated. Lovasco continued exposing the tyrannical aspects of red flag laws:
You may be thinking that surely the burden of proof to do such a thing must be extremely high. Certainly someone must be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you’re a danger.
Nope. All that’s required is that “the preponderance of the evidence” suggest you are dangerous. That’s legalese for “more likely than not.” That’s an incredibly low bar to justify any punitive action, let alone something as enormous as disarmament.
Lovasco makes a good point about how “After any tragedy, it’s tempting to call upon our elected officials to “do something” to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” However, for him, “it’s not enough to simply do “something” — one must do the right thing. The right thing, in this case, is to steadfastly protect the rights of everyone (even those we fear).”
Red flag laws are a very sensitive subject. That being said, impulsively turning to the state to solve the issue of gun violence is not a good idea. Instead, we should be discussing the repeal of gun-free zones, expanding law-abiding Americans’ ability carry their firearms for self-defense in public, and allowing local jurisdictions to create security measures that protect target-rich environments from madmen.
Lovasco get this and hopefully his example is replicated in legislatures across the country.