Gun Control vs. Reality: Virginia Set to Impose ‘Red Flag’ Confiscation Law

Virginia Capitol come and take it flag

Courtesy Jeff Hulbert

By Dennis Petrocelli, MD

As the 2020 Virginia Legislative session draws to a close this week, it appears that a version of a “red flag” law (House versionSenate version) will be sent to Governor “Blackface” Northam for his signature.

I thought I had exhausted my complaints about these laws previously, but Virginia’s Bloomberg-purchased Democrats made changes to the bill that plumb new depths: the “extreme risk” threshold was lowered to “substantial risk” and the usual time frame of “imminent” was expanded to  “near future.”

Determining whether or not “substantial” refers to the likelihood or magnitude of the harm is an exercise left for judges to determine. But they receive no more guidance regarding risk assessment than whatever evidence they “shall” consider, leaving respondents at their mercy and reducing courts to the Chanceries of old.

Virginians can look to Florida to see what we’re in for. The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence recently released a report of its examination of the usage of Florida’s red flag law, an “extreme risk protection order,” in Broward County. The report opens with their justification for these laws:

“People who carry out violence against themselves or others often exhibit dangerous behavior and warning signs. Restricting firearm access in these moments of crisis is a critical way to prevent gun violence and save lives. Extreme risk laws give law enforcement a process to do just that.”

The key premise of red flag laws is that there is a category of behaviors that are neither criminal nor due to a mental illness that merits civil commitment, that indicate that the person is at such risk of violence that his/her enumerated rights should be immediately violated ex parte for the protection of the subject and those around them.

Yet of 255 unique petitions filed between March 9, 2018 and March 9, 2019 in Broward County, all of the cases could have been managed under existing laws, either by mental health commitment or through the criminal justice system.

The report opens with a case study that demonstrates all the problems with the use of red flag confiscation laws. One individual’s guns were taken following the conclusion that there was “extensive evidence of danger” based upon the fact that:

“. . . he always carried around a backpack, that he often seemed disengaged and disinterested during church service, and that he was easily agitated . . .

“. . . he carried around a heavy workout plate in his backpack and was claiming that he was training for the military. He also carried firearms, both in his backpack and on his person. . .

“He also held up his 10-pound metal workout plate and asked another youth group participant, ‘What would happen if I smack you in the head with this?’

“A search of his social media found posts stating that he ‘hates God’ and ‘hates church.’ He also published social media posts talking about the Parkland shooter and posing with an AR-15-style assault weapon.

“  . . he was obsessed with the idea of treating gunshot wounds and talked about shooting a dog to have a subject on which to practice his developing medical skills. He also talked about how he wanted to get a gun like one that snipers use because they are more powerful, and said that he liked the idea of ‘one shot, one kill.’”

Taking this data in the light most favorable to the Giffords position, that “he might turn into the next Parkland shooter,” can we rest easy knowing that his guns have been confiscated but he continues to move freely about in the community? This is the glaring deficiency of red flag laws: guns are removed, but individuals remain unhelped.

In this case, the young man actually committed assault when he held up the workout plate and asked “What would happen if I smack you in the head with this?” This proves that even without his guns, he posed a risk to those around him, and yet the report makes no comment on this.

Nor does the report provide any follow-up information after the confiscation of his firearms. That’s because these laws, and the people who support them, are interested in neither the subjects of these petitions nor in the general public that is supposed to be protected—they just want the guns.

This is even more obvious in the summary of statistics about the law’s usage: “412 guns seized, 3 per seizure, 67 guns surrendered by one individual.” The report was silent about lives saved, and not due to intellectual honesty. That is not their main goal, and they can’t tell anyway.

The report puts the Florida experience in the context of other states that have had similar laws for many years:

“For example, recent studies show that for every 10 to 20 firearm removals under Connecticut’s and Indiana’s extreme risk laws, approximately one life was saved through an averted suicide. Studies also suggest that these firearm removals result in population-level reductions in gun suicides: Connecticut’s and Indiana’s extreme risk laws have been associated with

14% and 7.5% reductions in firearm suicide rates in these states, respectively.”

The “10 to 20” figure is offered as a feature instead of the bug it is. This means that from 9 to 19 people’s enumerated rights were violated without any benefit to anyone, and 1 person’s rights were violated but we don’t even know whether that dangerous person received any help.

red flag evro gvro confiscation colorado

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Although gun-related suicide might have decreased, overall suicide numbers continued rising. Looking specifically at Florida after implementation of its red rlag law, despite 3,500 confiscations Florida’s rate of suicide is climbing as it is in other states with red flag laws.

Red flag laws were designed by confiscationists to keep the focus on guns because it’s part of their plan to demonize them and those who own them. They want us to equate guns with their misused lethality, as if guns have no other purposes (like sportsself-defense or therapy). The report makes this clear in one item in its list of “risk factors”:

Risk Factor Prevalence: . . . Has recently acquired firearms or ammunition”

We know better, and we have to do better at getting the truth out. Open Source Defense recently offered the following statistic which defines “well-regulated” for the 21st century:

“There are 423 million guns in the US. Each year, about 14,500 of them are used in a murder. Those are extensively studied, and that’s good. So now is a good time to start studying the other 99.9965721%.”

Keep in mind that influenza kills about three times as many each year. Cars are implicated in over twice the number of deaths. Guns are not the problem. “Gun violence” is a misnomer for human violence perpetrated with a certain type of weapon.

In the same way that we address human behavior to contain the spread of disease and to make our roads safer, let’s focus on people, not the weapons. We can much more surely make our communities safer by using the constitutional tools of criminal justice and mental health civil commitment laws.

 

Dennis Petrocelli, MD is a clinical and forensic psychiatrist who has practiced for nearly 20 years in Virginia. He took up shooting in 2019 for mind-body training and self-defense, and is in the fight for Virginians’ gun rights.

This article was originally published at drgo.us and is reprinted here with permission. 

comments

  1. avatar Alan says:

    I find myself curious regarding the following as they relate to these so-called Red Flag Laws.

    1. Might these abominations survive court challenges, likely ultimately one brought before the U.S. Supreme, and how much damage might well be done before adjudication?
    2. Given that there has been to date, one fatality arising from what seems a most questionable enforcement operation, how many more innocents, an individual used to be innocent until proven guilty, might be injured or killed in the enforcement of the abomination that these Red Flag Laws constitute?

    I submit that these questions cry out for attention and answers, attention and answers being conspicuous in their absence.

    1. avatar Baldwin says:

      You have questions and you want answers??? You do know that the people you’re dealing with don’t give a flying fvck what you want? Your quest for facts is immaterial. Your hope for reason is pointless. Your rights have been bought and paid for, and Bloomberg intends to get his money’s worth from Virginia’s democrap Governor and General Assembly.

  2. avatar RGP says:

    Might need to use that law on everybody who voted Democrat while keeping a gun hidden in the closet.

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      Might have to use a Red Flag on the Democratic politician that is encouraging the spread of Covid-19 at Trump rallies.

    2. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Use the Red Flag laws on known criminals. Although the Democrats don’t want this to happen, how are they going to stop it without a list of exempt persons?

      Smarter criminals will use the Red Flag laws on their rivals.

  3. avatar Nacho says:

    And what are we doing against corona virus? The antidote is obvious, a pack of corona beer per week, but the government and corporations don’t want you to know it! Also, Alex Jones said it’s worse than what officials say, in China they cannot burn bodies fast enough! Be prepared get your corona while you can get them because when stuff hits the fan it won’t be pretty if you don’t have packs of corona for the family.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      Wait…I thought you got the virus FROM Corona. I’ve been doing this all wrong.

  4. avatar 191145 says:

    I guess, someone in Virginia is going to have to take 1 for the team ! Then start a massive go fund me account, and challenge this BS all the way to the SCOTUS .

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      It’s unfortunate that one would have to go bankrupt(then beg for funding) to defend our constitutionally protected, God given rights, from unconstitutional laws.

    2. avatar Shadow says:

      I would not trust the beloved (cough, cough) Supreme Court to uphold our Second Amendment rights. They like to pick and chose which rights they think we little people are “allowed” to have. If the Second Amendment hinges on the U.S. Supreme court, we are screwed.

  5. avatar arc says:

    Just returned from the (R) primary polls in Texas to make sure none of this shit gets a foothold here. The ballot is of course split these days, and according to someone close, the (D) ballot had all kinds of crazy on it.

    If you are in Texas, get moving today. (March 3)

    1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      Did my part today and voted for the ones that support our constitutional rights.

      1. avatar arc says:

        Yep, the Texas propositions for (R) are all “yes” but the first one is poorly worded and its difficult to determine if it should be yes or no. Obviously we want to keep prayer in schools but it was worded so that yes or no sounds like it would work.

  6. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    From the article:

    … we have to do better at getting the truth out.

    I am deeply saddened to say that I seriously doubt the effectiveness of that solution.

    When a rapist makes eye contract from across the street, states his intention to rape you, and then rushes toward your door, will yelling the truth at the rapist (that rape is morally wrong and illegal) be effective? The answer is a resounding, “NO!”.

    Many, perhaps even the overwhelming majority of people who want us disarmed, simply want us disarmed. They want what they want and they don’t care about the truth. That simple immemorial human trait is the basis for the maxim that, “Might makes right”. And that is why our nation’s Founders codified the Second Amendment, foreseeing the future day when we would need force of arms to defend our inalienable rights.

  7. avatar William Ashbless says:

    Live by the sword and die by the sword.

    How about we make a list of pretty people(our betters) and initiate a campaign to have them disarmed based upon their threat to the community at large?

    Cops have a high incidence of drug and alcohol abuse. Based upon Joe Biden’s incoherent ramblings and finger nibbling, should he or his wife have access to that double barrel shotgun he seems to think ought to be randomly discharged in residential neighborhoods?

  8. avatar possum and the Coons of Doom says:

    A red flag,, with one big yellow star and four little ones..

  9. avatar Garrison Hall says:

    Red flag laws, as with all gun control measures, are clear violations of our 2nd Amendment. All are aimed, in one way or another, at infringing on the rights of citizens to arm themselves as a way of defending against governmental tyranny. Sooner than later the Supreme Court will have to decide whether or not the 2nd means what is says. The outcome of that decision will determine the kind of nation we will have. If we lose the 2nd Amendment we will cease to be the free country our founders intended for us to be.

  10. avatar Chief Censor says:

    Virginia Beach has asked for 5.5 million to implement 27 of their safety recommendations, as a response to the Virginia Beach shooting. However, they have stated their numerous recommendations would have not stopped the shooting that did occur. They also make claim that their previous human resource policies and work environment did not play a role in the motivation for the shooting, but they cannot find a motive.

    Some recommendations were to create threat assessment teams, spying and training for detecting dangerous people before they act. They agreed to implement all of the recommendations but the spying is illegal, thus they cannot do it though they want to.

    Virginia is definitely going to make use of their new gun confiscation powers. They wanted to spy on their employees, however, they can’t do that until the law changes. But they can have threat assessment teams sit in meetings, allow for anonymous employee reporting systems and make use of gun confiscation powers if they believe the employee may get angry.

    On other Virginia gun control news: Republicans have voted to pass a bill that would allow the DMV to give out license plates that have “Stop gun violence” on them for a fee of $25. That bill was SB160, it passed in the senate 39 to 1. Amanda Chase was that one conservative whom voted against the Republicans.

    Yet Virginians think everything is Bloomberg’s fault and Virginia isn’t a blue state.

  11. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    from the opensourcedefense article:
    “…’guns are specifically designed to kill’… If that’s true, then guns are empirically probably the most defective product you can buy.”

  12. avatar Stuck in NJ says:

    “Risk Factor Prevalence: . . . Has recently acquired firearms or ammunition”

    Wow, what a perfect Catch-22!
    By definition, every single gun owner, at some point in their lives, “has recently acquired firearms or ammunition.” So here’s the flawless gun-grabber logic:
    Has someone recently bought a gun? OMG, that means they’re too dangerous to own a gun!
    Has someone recently bought ammunition for their gun? OMG, that means they’re too dangerous to own a gun!

    Can you imagine if they applied the same logic to drunk drivers?
    “Risk Factor Prevalence: . . . Has recently acquired a vehicle or bought gasoline.”
    OMG, take away their car, they’re obviously planning to drive drunk!

  13. avatar Royal A Brown III says:

    FL’s Red Flag Law the Risk Protection Order (RPO) now approaching 5,000 ex parte seizures without Due Process. Polk County leads the state and stats received from Clerk of Court as of Nov 20, ’19 showed of 525 RPOs issued 50 were found not to be a threat and thier case vacated at hearing 14 days later or 10%. These folks (respondents) were put thru the anxiety and humiliation of no notice seizure 24X7 and the expense of hiring an attorney to defend them at hearing where LE attorney present. Further they were automatically enrolled on FL and National Criminal Data bases and must go thru this bureaucrat to be taken off. No guarantee their property returned undamaged. Totally bad, unconstitutional law that should be taken to SCOTUS and tossed out. Even the ACLU agrees – https://www.americangunnews.com/aclu-agrees-red-flag-laws-violate-civil-rights/

  14. avatar M Welby says:

    So if a child stabs another child with a pencil or ink pen that has bullied him in school, does that mean we have to look forward to all pencils and pens being confiscated and placed on red flag list of dangerous weapons for school kids? Unfortunately America’s so called leaders are as dumb and out of touch with reality as they can get and we have so many more problems other than guns in this country. Lack of adequate housing, homelessness, hunger, lack of medical care, poverty, illiteracy and the list keeps getting longer every day and don’t forget that the majority of our so called leaders are crooks themselves. Maybe they should report on themselves and have their rights involuntarily revoked and also have their names added to the growing criminal database.

    1. avatar Shadow says:

      M. Welby, your comment reminds me of the movie line in “Terminator II”. In this case, the scene when Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor) asks: Hello, Dr. Silberman, how’s the knee”…..in response to her stabbing him in the knee with his pen a few days prior. Just about anything can be used as a weapon. The million dollar question is, how dumbed down (and just plain stupid) has the United States gotten, that the majority would be willing to give everything up for safety, only to be lorded over by tyrants?

      1. avatar Royal A Brown III says:

        “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin

        1. avatar Shadow says:

          How very true, Royal, and that is a good quote from Ben Franklin. This one is also a good one from B.F. It may or not be related, but still a good one for you: “He was so learned he could name a horse in nine languages. So ignorant, he bought a cow to ride on”.

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