Known for its beautiful beaches, fantastic weather, California boasts a plethora of gun control laws. For gun owners living in the state, however, things continue to decline. A report indicates that law enforcement executing red flag gun confiscation orders seized a record number of firearms in 2020.
In January of 2016, California's red flag law took effect. This law gives law enforcement the ability to seize someone's legally owned firearms before the person committing a crime or even being notified. Such laws, in various degrees, have been passed in the majority of states in the country.
A Quick Breakdown of Red Flag Laws:
Essentially, a person concerned that someone may harm themselves or another can petition the court to take their firearms from them. The person who is the subject of the red flag order is not notified of the complaint and not allowed to defend themselves. If granted by the Judge, the police will take all guns owned by the individual.
Now the subject does not need to commit a crime, and the police do not need to observe anything that would indicate the person is a threat to themselves or anyone else. Law enforcement must execute the court's order.
As an aside, the only way the government can effectively take someone's firearms is if they are registered. One of the driving forces behind a gun registry is the apparent reality that many gun control laws are ineffective unless the government knows what guns the person has.
Once the person has a hearing, often weeks later, they can present evidence that they are not a threat to anyone. Then they must go through the process of getting their guns back from the police. In several documented cases, firearms never return to the owner. In others, it has taken months to retrieve their legally owned property.
Back to California's Gun Confiscation:
In the 5 years since the law has been in place, 2019 saw the most gun confiscations. Police took 1,110 firearms from people that year. In 2020, one thousand, two hundred and eighty-five people saw their personal property taken from them because of red flag laws.
The anti-gun organization Brady is a fan of confiscating firearms from everyone. The vice president of policy for the organization, Christian Heyne, said:
Extreme risk laws, like California’s, save lives. This is a tool that families and law enforcement can utilize to ensure the safety of their loved ones, themselves and the entire state.
Of course, Heyne didn't back up his claim by showing that any lives were saved by taking the guns away from the people who owned them. Red flag laws likely saved some lives. I am sure that some concerned people appropriately intervened before someone broke down.
Some Reasonable Questions:
Because of bogus claims about their character, how many people had their lives upended?
How many people lost jobs, faced economic difficulties due to accusations that they were an imminent deadly threat?
How many people became soft targets for criminals who do not follow gun laws?
Getting Statistics Can Be Challenging:
It's hard to say because much of this requires speculation and court information that we do not have access to. However, let's take a statement from a Los Angeles Times article. The article quotes a Dr. of emergency medicine and the director of the Violence Research Prevention Program at UC Davis. If anyone had information on the effectiveness, it would be Dr. Garen J. Wintemute.
Wintermute's office conducted a study of 21 red flag law cases where courts issued orders to prevent a mass shooting. The report states that “most of the cases, people had made explicit threats of gun violence, and the study found none of the 21 individuals carried out shootings.”
He went on to say that “in every case, there is evidence that gun violence might have occurred without the order.”
Hang On a Second!
Wait, what does “gun violence” mean? Does that mean homicide, suicide, threats of harm? If it does, they are misrepresenting the effectiveness of the confiscations.
And what does “…might have occurred without the order” mean? Does that mean it might not have occurred without the order?
Does the study note any instances where police confiscated guns, and the person ended up committing other types of violence against the person or themselves?
And why only look roughly 0.15 % of the incident or 21 of the 1,285 total?
In any event, red flag laws set a dangerous precedent, and states should repeal them. Until states nullify these laws, there should be an oversight on their use.
I believe Attorney General's should be required to release an easy-to-understand report to the public. Of course, the report would release no personal information. However, things like the following are necessary for the public to know.
- how many guns seized
- from how many people
- the number of firearms returned
- the average period before the accused was given a chance to defend themselves
- the average amount of time it took for the person to get their property back
- the number of incidents that resulted in violent criminal charges
Keep an eye on your state's red flag gun confiscations and other issues related to due process and infringement on the Second Amendment. Continue to stay engaged with your local politicians and issues.
If you like this content, check out this post where I break down where and how a list of recent mass shooters got their firearms.