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By Dennis Petrocelli, MD

I recently joined my fellow Virginian defenders of the Second Amendment and testified before the Virginia Crime Commission. Its legislators and official appointees will review the gun control bills advanced in response to the Virginia Beach mass murder and offer its recommendations to the General Assembly when it re-convenes this fall.

I focused on the red flag law for three reasons:

  • It infringes on a host of rights: weapons are confiscated after a hearing where the respondents are not  present, and therefore do not know the evidence against them, nor have the opportunity to confront their accusers;
  • These laws have been mischaracterized as having supporting evidence of reducing suicides and homicides, when in fact there is none that withstands any scrutiny;
  • Such bills do the opposite of what I’ve been trained to do as a forensic psychiatrist:  respect fellow citizens by using scientifically rigorous methods of risk assessment.

I testified that none of the red flag bills being considered provide for treating respondents “with even a modicum of respect, which is to have a risk assessment method that passes some form of rules of evidence. Only a ‘kangaroo court’ would accept the ‘I know it when I see it’ standard of dangerousness to confiscate weapons.”

Little did I know that New Jersey is in fact setting up such kangaroo courts. The state’s red flag bill will take effect next month. Two recently published memoranda, one from the Administrative Office of the Courts¹, and another from the Office of the Attorney General², have specifically clarified that…

“The rules governing admissibility of evidence at trial shall not apply to the presentation and consideration of information at the hearing,”

…and, that…

“The rules of evidence do not apply at the hearing.”

This means that the people bringing the complaint to the court will not have any restrictions placed on their testimony – truly a free-for-all. How either entity, seemingly by fiat, can eliminate rules of evidence is a matter for attorneys.

The rest of us ought to note that there are forces at work that apparently see the foundational principles of American justice as mere speed bumps on the road towards disarmament.

No one wants dangerous people to have firearms, nor any other means of mayhem. The challenge is how to remain a free people that respect the rule of law while providing for our safety.

Using the National Threat Assessment Center’s recent report Mass Attacks in Public Spaces report as a guide, concerned citizens can invoke mental health or criminal justice resources in response to behavior that signals risk.

After a proper hearing before a judge, with due process protections and by following rules of evidence, the person in question may be committed to a psychiatric hospital, or convicted of a barrier offense to firearms possession. Then, and only then, should there be consideration of “post-adjudicative weapons safety,” or “PAWS”—a means of securing the firearms, preferably in the custody of family that may lawfully steward them.

In the rush to “do something,” let’s keep the focus on constitutionality and efficacy, and not recklessly disarm ourselves in the process.



(1) New Jersey Court Administrative Office of the Courts Directive # 19-19 dated August 12, 2019

(2) State of New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Law Enforcement Directive No. 2019-2 dated August 15, 2019


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 joining the fight for Virginians’ gun rights.

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

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    • These ERPO laws will all be challenged eventually before SCOTUS and knocked down. Yes, SCOTUS sometimes does some dumb things, but these Red Flag laws are just too blatantly unconstitutional to withstand judicial scrutiny.

      Once the first wave of lawsuits starts making its way through the courts, we’ll see some changes.

      It sux now, but it won’t be forever. Too many people are (correctly) yelling loudly about the blatant infringements on our enumerated rights.

      • It can take years and millions of dollars to get a case before SCOTUS. It also, in most cases, requires an individual that has already been stripped of their rights to be named as a wronged party. Since there are now 18 states, plus DC with these ERPOs it could require several cases if there is deemed a significant difference in the laws as written. I have read 12 and I see little difference but I am not a lawyer.
        It is always better to stop a law than try to overturn it.

        • Also guns confiscated under Red Flag laws gives no certainty that the confiscated weapon would ever be returned to its rightful owner

        • “It is always better to stop a law than try to overturn it.”

          Agreed, but I’m just talking about the reality of what will likely happen.

    • Oh you are 100% right and the only thing i have left to do is stock up on Ammo!Anyone that already owns a firearm sure as heck better buy as much ammo as they legally can while they can and those that dont own a firearm sure better buy one ASAP!!! This country and specifically the state of N.J. is in for Civil unrest or a Skirmish or two! I know i personally am ready to fight for our freedoms and took the oath strait out of High School and have never been relieved of that oath!!! I think its time the left started seeing the JUSTICE that WE THE PEOPLE were PROMISED in the last election!!!

      • amen I am with you on this ! RED FLAG LAW HERE IN iLLINOIS SUCKS! how can any individual point out a mentally ill person — that is NOT QUALIFIED TO DO SO ? Just hear say — is not a cause!

  1. It all about “Authoritarianism, vindictive corporate fascism, and Governmental Paternalism!” ALL promoted through “Red Flag Laws/ Extreme Risk Protection Orders” designed to do an “end-run round the U.S. Constitution/Bill of Rights…In order to “seize private property, and personal arms under the false guise of public safety…” Which will eventually be expanded upon and Weaponized (like Google’s recent SWAT attack against it’s corporate whistleblower…) To attack politically active individuals, have their rights nullified, property and ARMS seized, be declared an “Enemy of the State!” Anyone who ISN’T seriously worried about what is taking place around out nation under false context is really kidding themselves and should seek psychological counseling immediately! Because as a Free Country! We are in serious trouble! Where the raid is paved with ” Totalitarianism” in the name of public safety!

      • Any Leftist is a TRAITOR! They all should be imprisoned or hanged!All those politicians pushing these laws and brainwashing our youth to blindly follow them should be put to DEATH! I will gladly fight for our Freedoms and ensure this country stays free and open for our children and grandchildren!I would much rather i fight for our freedoms then they!!!%

        • Reno and BigMikeU need to stop frothing at the mouth and talking about killing people left and right. Because that kind of talk really
          doesn’t make gun owners look safe and sane.

        • Many gun owners are not sane, that’s the problem.

          Anyone who calls for killing their political opponents needs to be committed for a mental health evaluation. They also need to have their firearms temporarily confiscated until their sanity can be proven.

      • There are several good reasons not to post inflammatory comments that promote personal violence — not the least of which is “monitoring” by various agencies (take your pick), and persecution under the guise of “Red Flag” laws . . . .

        It is OK to call someone a traitor, or that they have socialist-democrap tendencies, or that they fail to uphold their oath-of-office, or that they do not believe in the Constitution; but it NOT right to threaten harm or assassination or elimination.
        That activity just plays-into the leftist libtards preconceived notion of pro-gun / pro-constitution / pro-Republic people.

        The way to combat this socialist trend is to promote the truth, expose the lies, vote with your spending habits, become politically active — just as the liberal-left socialist democrats have done from the 1960’s!

        Time to take a few pages from their playbook and use their “big lie” tactics against them!

  2. The Secret Service study and training in preventing attacks is essential to protecting the Second Amendment. Either we figure out how to embrace methods of preventing human violence where a gun is used, or we will eventually see enough public outrage against us for those rights to be taken away. It will not happen suddenly, it will be a slow and steady evolution until nothing is left.

    This has to happen, it is the natural end result of ignoring prevention and focusing so heavily on the moment of the attack. It is not enough to have a good guy with a gun present to shoot the bad guy. As long as people are killed by nutjobs, the movement against us will grow.

    It is not fair, it simply is what it is. Some enraged idiot violates an order of protection and murders his wife, our gun rights are blamed. Some psychotic teen shoots up his school, our gun rights are blamed.

    Prevention is the key. If RED FLAG LAWS as written are no good, then do not stop at fighting them. Write up a law that would would work and fight for it.

    Anything less is a plan to fail.

    • We don’t need more laws. We need to remove many of them, allow everyone to carry, allow for voluntary expression of faith in God back into our public square, and stop pushing pharmaceuticals as the panacea cure for all ills.

      • So your plan is to do nothing, see the SA destroyed while you go wildly off-topic?

        Well, okay then …….

        • Wildly off-topic? So I suppose you didn’t write this at the end of your comment above?

          “Write up a law that would would work and fight for it.”

          I responded directly to your comment, but I see that you couldn’t put 2+2 together. I’ll draw it in crayon next time for you.

      • What our friend enuf writes is accurate. If POTG want to maintain their position in society, they need to self police the extremist from their ranks. Lawyers and doctors both have self policing schemes set up that are accepted by society, why don’t POTG do the same? But it is clear, we must begin taking responsibility for the members of our tribe who represent a danger to society.

        And we all know who they are.

      • “allow voluntary expression of faith in God back into our public square”

        That ride has never been taken by any government action, anybody wants to can stand on the street corner and pray out loud in public.

        Of course, Jesus expressly said not to pray in public, he said go into the closet to pray in secret. He also said those who stood out on the public square and preached their righteousness were like white painted sepulchers, beautiful to behold but filled with corruption within.

        • Never really cared what Jesus thought. Besides, isn’t he long overdue for his second coming ?

    • There is no possible law that could prevent anything. What will you say when we get red flag laws and there is still all the same murders and mass murders happening? nothing you will give ground on another chunk of our rights.

      You know it won’t work stop pretending it will.

      • Not true. A law that could help enormously would be to fund training in threat assessment nationwide. In schools of every type, large employers, police, health workers.

        A law that would help enormously is to refund the mental health system we tore down decades ago. Get the mentally ill off the streets. Have enough trained professionals to assess those few that are actually dangerous.

        A law to fund organizations such as CureViolence.org would reduce gang violence in the cities. They use a public health/communicable disease concept of inner city gang violence. They’ve had some major successes.

        Laws are not just about making things illegal. Laws are also about supporting what is needed. Whether that’s building roads and bridges or hospitals or training people in techniques.

        It isn’t all Federal either, a hell of a lot of what is needed is very much local, city, county and up to the state level.

        • None of those things (except maybe the first…maybe…) would have any effect on mass shootings.

          They’re a red herring — just about as predictable and statistically as deadly as lightning strikes — but infinitely more frightening. An emotional hijack throwing everyone onto the wrong trail.

          Stopping all the other types of violence would do no good at all as long as there’s a mass shooting once or twice a year to freak everybody out and a media/politics machine that profits enormously from stoking the fear.

          We could do All The Somethings about violence, cut it all down to nearly nothing…and nothing would change, except that we’d all be less free IN ADDITION to suffering the same problems with mass shootings.

          I Haz a Question is right: it’s a cultural problem. Look at what has changed in the way people are raised since about 1960; this crap didn’t happen before the ’60s. Put our society back together, and maybe the mass shootings will stop. But that’s never going to happen. Too big, and you can’t close Pandora’s Box.

          So you’re probably right about one thing: Unless we can either muzzle the press or eradicate the progressive left (which would severely injure the Constitution and probably tear the country apart), this issue will wind up either tearing the country apart or severely injuring our freedom.

          It’s a hell of a conundrum.

      • “There is no possible law that could prevent anything.”

        Well there you go, by your logic there should be no laws whatsoever. Great, very sophisticated idea whose time has arrived at last!


      • Mandatory carry for all over 15 would work just fine, if a crime is committed in your presence and you did not shoot the mofo, you pay a fine. Would work just fine, is not unconstitutional, benefits would be instant and increase for several years, saying *NO* law will work is just wrong. Saying no law which currently might be passed would do squat is probably correct.

  3. if you are too dangerous to own a gun you are to dangerous to be on the streets. What they are doing is making a permanent class of people who will never have their rights restored and they will keep expanding the qualifiers for becoming prohibited.

    Now I see people saying they could support some version of red flag laws. We should only be looking for the repeal of gun laws. That and only that.

    Everyone here knows being prohibited doesn’t do anything and anyone with half a brain can get a gun. I don’t see the point in even entertaining any form of gun control even with the strictest and best standards applied to it.

    People like to pretend our gun laws do something but they don’t. They are just a hassle for us and nothing to a bad guy. “enforce the laws on the books” No remove the laws on the books.

    • “What they are doing is making a permanent class of people who will never have their rights restored and they will keep expanding the qualifiers for becoming prohibited.”

      This is exactly right, and what we should be arguing against.

    • They are not interested in locking people up. That costs money and the subject isn’t working and paying taxes, a double hit. They want people disarmed but functional so they can be a warning to others . Fuck with us and you’ll end up a unperson.

    • Absolutes bother me. Here is a red flag law which I could support; “If you are convicted in a court of law of a violent felony, you lose your right to keep and bear arms forever. If you are later convicted of so much as simple possession of a firearm, the sentence is death, and will be carried out within one week.” See, there is no definition of what is a red flag law, you might concern yourself with impounding someone’s car if he doesn’t pay his parking tickets, and call it a red flag law. The shorthand bullshit is meant to fool the public, demand a synopsis of what the law accomplishes, not a chickenshit abbreviation.

  4. Reviewing the Data on Red Flag Laws, Assault Weapons, and Background Checks
    Jim Geraghty, National Review

    …The conclusions are pretty clear: Red flag laws that are carefully written and not abused could probably a stop a significant number of mass shooters before they start, while an assault weapons ban would, at most, take away some of the guns that mass shooters would bring to their massacres, but not all of them.


    • So how will it prevent someone from acquiring one illegally? Lets hypothetically say it worked and we stopped mass shootings (it wouldn’t). So mass stabbings, running people over with cars and explosives would just replace it.

      We have seen Europe. It doesn’t do anything to mass murder or the homicide rate. They just have less deaths by guns. Still lots of deaths though.

      I don’t understand why people think this is a good thing.

      • Exactly. A recent shooting in Dayton, OH, resulted in lots of demands for a ban on the weapon type which was used. Mere days later, another murderous turd stabbed people, stole a police car, and killed two (OH MY GOD!) children with it. I am still waiting for the demand that we ban police cars.

    • Red Flag laws should be called The-bratty-15-year-old-revenge-on-step-dad. “You’re NOT my dad and I’m gonna’ show you!!!”

  5. You are male. You own guns. You support gun rights. What more evidence do the liberals need to be convinced that you’re a danger to society and must be disarmed or killed?

  6. avatar pg "I was going to quit posting on this board until the geoff/guesty/knute/hank/huntsman profile starting using my username" 2

    Kind of like the vaccine kangaroo court, which rejects 9/10 on cases from being heard and has still paid out $,4000,000,000 in damages to families for vaccine injury. And the damages are paid by the victims in the form of an excise tax on the vaccine itself, not paid by the manufacturers. Great deal.

    • Word “vaccine” used three times, boyo.

      And I think you’re letting one or two people here get to you a bit too much. Chill out and just join the gun conversations.

      If you’re going to quit posting, then just quit already. Who cares what this Geoff/Guesty/Hank/Godzilla/Smurfette person says, anyway?

      • Was going to cease vaccine posting. Don’t care what anyone thinks really, kinda funny someone stuck a hack troll on me to distract from the vaccine posts. I’ve been reading/posting here since 2012, first vaccine post was late 2015.

        • it’s a compliment to have a hack troll like yourself assigned to try to harass me. Must be speaking little too much truth for someone’s special interests.

      • Agreed, Haz. It’s getting to be a bit much. From all involved. Either post the comments from a humorous slant such as the Vlad/anti-Vlad crowd for everyone’s entertainment, or stick to opining on the related articles as we’re invited by TTAG to do. But at least stop bickering back and forth like 12-yr-olds.

        • [In his best 12-yr-old voice] “but he started it!”

          Alright, alright.

          PeeGee, how about a truce? You stop with the vaxx, and I’ll stop with my snarky comments. I can’t speak for the others, though, as all those other names are definitely other users and not me.

          Time to step up and start acting like a 13-yr-old now, I guess.

      • “Chill out and just join the gun conversations.”

        We’ve asked nicely, not-so-nicely, and even in a decidedly-hostile manner for him to drop his one-trick-pony anti-vaxx bullshit and talk guns, but, nooooooooooooooo…

        He can’t. He’s incapable. It just does not compute.

        Perhaps TTAG Battle HQ will just ban his username/IP and wash their hands of it…

        • You’d love to turn this place into a leftist echo chamber that pretends to support the 2nd Amendment.

    • Seems like pg2 requires a vaccination of common sense. Not to mention some education. Vaccinations have likely saved more people than have ever been killed by guns.

      Just sayin’.

      • “Seems” is the key word in your post. The earth used to seem flat. Clean hands for baby delivery didn’t seem necessary at one time. The “seem” list is endless. It’s an ignorant statement/opinion.

  7. The basic flaw in ‘red flag’ laws is that it leaves the threat (person) at large to commit the unthinkable while we only have the weapons they may have planned on using. If you’re so concerned about the individual, lock them up instead. Oh wait, we can’t just lock somebody up that would infringe on their rights. See how ridiculous it gets.

    • And now their guns are taken, they realize someone has a hard on for them, and thanks to the internet it’s probably not a secret. Their friends, boss, and co workers will find out.
      Now they created a man who doesn’t care.

  8. Gun ownership is on the decline with only 30 per cent of the population even owning guns anymore. Most view even hunting as obscene and urban sprawl has gobbled up so much land that many people do not even have a place to hunt or shoot if they wanted to. I did not have to be told that tonight because anyone who goes to gun shows sees on average the majority of people there are dying old gay bearded men. A recent house invasion of our neighborhood had 3 homes broken into with guns laying all over the place in one of them. The young people who broke in stole everything but the guns that were in plane sight. They had no use for them. That should tell you something and as the older population kicks off the resulting younger gun-less voters will become more and more anti gun ownership. Its only a matter of time when the bulk of the population will not only not own any guns but not want anyone at all to own them as well and the Courts will be only be to glad to support laws for that purpose. You will see this come to pass far sooner than you can image. As many gun owners have been telling me for quite some time “we are a dying breed” gun owners, gun shows and the gun culture are headed for extinction and far sooner than most would imagine.

    • I might also add that yes, a Nation can indeed do something about mass shootings its just that in the U.S. mass murders are considered a normal way of life. But I think that is soon to be coming to an end and probably after the 2020 elections especially if Herr Drumpf is gone out of office through an impeachment

      • No impeachment. They ‘shot their wad’ on that and blew it big-time. No second swing at the plate for them.

        The rest of your ‘screed’ was straight copypasta talking points from Leftist websites.

        You know that little factoid you dropped how only 30 percent own guns? It’s bullshit, and here’s why –

        If someone calls you claiming to be a survey and asks if you own any valuable items at home like guns, who is stupid enough to answer yes? *Maybe* 30 percent of the population.

        Why? They say they are a survey, but it’s more likely a burglar looking for places to rob. If anyone ever calls me asking me what expensive things I own, I’m hanging up on them. And that’s how you get “only 30 percent own guns”…

        “But I think that is soon to be coming to an end and probably after the 2020 elections…”

        Even if a Leftist gets elected and “Bans all assault rifles”, only a *tiny* percentage will comply. Do some research and find out what percentage of ‘assault rifles’ were turned in when New York state banned theirs, it was less than 10 percent.

        90 percent gave the ‘law’ the middle finger and kept theirs…

        • I didn’t even hear about any turn in numbers breaking 200 and the registration of estimated rifles was hovering around 5 percent. Now with the various work around ar 15 monstrosities that are easily converted to standard format as well as home built I couldn’t even give an estimate on how little we actually comply as a state past FUAC.

      • Not if I can do anything about it. In recent 5 years I have created at least 10 new gun owners. Not one of them over 50.
        At least half of them now own a scarry black ghost rifle, made out of 80% lower receiver they, ehm, received as a present from me. (Some asked what it was. My response – It’s a seed of a rifle!) I also let them use my jig, router and drill press, then help them pick the parts and assist with the assembly.

        If each of us brings one person to the range which then gets hooked, number of gun owners will double.

        • Yep, just taught my seven year old gun safety and brought her to the range with her pink ruger 10/22 with a voquartsen ultralight bolt so she can shoot 22lr quiets.
          I was going to teach her at 6 like my dad did but it took almost 7 months to unprogram her from the 1st grade mind control that taught her it’s guns and not a violence problem our society has.
          She’s hooked. She asked for a ps-90 for her 8th birthday. I said she could have mine. Her response was she needed her own so we could shoot them together.

    • Abdoofus, please be advised that no one on this PLANET has any real clue about how many Americans are armed, your statement makes it obvious that you are a doofus.

  9. Evidence, we don’t need no stinking evidence, is slightly modified film dialogue from Treasure of Sierra Madre, which some here might recall.

  10. Noticed, reading through the above commentary, reference to the “constitutionality” of proposed and actually utilized procedures and or actions. Regarding constitutionality of procedures or actions, these days, do such niggling considerations matter?

  11. There are risk in society, but there are ways to reduce the risk of “mass shooters”.
    1. End gun free zones except in certain govt buildings and court houses.
    2. Force states to recognize all other states CPL’s like drivers licenses (If you plan to travel outside of your state; if not, then if your state is Constitutional carry then you don’t need a license if you don’t travel outside your residency state; set safety/proficiency requirements, a one time class as long as your license doesn’t expire; you can continue to renew your license indefinitely without re taking the safety class.
    Your CPL is good for five years, renew at your county’s sheriff office. pass an instant NICS BG check pay a small fee for the cost of the license.
    License needed only for travel and concealed carry (but) not to possess a firearm in your business or home.
    3. Most of the “mass shooters” we’re already on the police /fbi radar, yet they did nothing.
    4. Enforce the damn gun laws, why the F**k are repeat felony gun drug offenders getting gun charges reduces, dropped or plea deals?
    STOP THAT $#!+!!

    Do these four things and I bet “gun violence” will be cut by 3/4 within 10 ten years.

    • Forget carry permits. That’s still begging some person in an office somewhere for permission to exercise your enumerated right. Go straight to permitless “Constitutional” carry across the nation. Everyone carries, everywhere.

      THAT will stop 3/4 of the gun violence within a single year, let alone ten.


      • I agree but good luck getting moderate conservatives, libertarians, or center Democrats to sign on to that.

        • Almost a third, actually. 15 states and growing. And that’s Constitutional Carry. Many more allow open carry without a permit.

          Here in CA, we can’t do anything. Yet.

  12. Dr. Petrocelli

    Red Flag failed in Vermont and rite out of the gate at that,one of the first uses of it,not to mention the uncles constitutional rights violated.

    Vermont Teens Planned a School Shooting So Police Confiscated a Relative’s Guns


    Further information on Vermont’s ERPO/Red Flag law.

    Extreme risk protection orders gaining traction in Vermont


  13. No one wants dangerous people to have firearms…

    Not true. *I* want dangerous people to have firearms, if their dangerousness is decided by people for whom I have no respect and who have as an ulterior motive (i.e. an “agenda”) the general disarmament of ordinary people.

    • A thinkle to be thunked upon:

      A man in a room of 100 people knows he’s the only person with a gun. Certain thoughts go through his mind as to what he can do with his perceived power over the others in the room, and he eventually acts on them. He is dangerous.

      A man in the next room of 100 people isn’t sure if he’s the only person with a gun, and believes several others may have guns as well. Certain thoughts go through his mind as to what he can do with his perceived power over the others in the room, but he chooses not to act due self-preservation. He is potentially dangerous, but no danger occurs.

      • Everybody is potentially dangerous. The fundamental weapon is the person. Firearms, knives, clubs, etc., are adjunct weapons. Guns are especially effective adjunct weapons.

      • No one (!) should ever be able to convince himself he has any clue how many people in the room are armed. Not even the cops. Not EVER! Your problems just disappeared.

  14. Disclaimer: I voted Trump. This is to kill Red Flag laws.

    Goad someone with TDS to seek a Red Flag on Trump. I’m sure an activist Judge would issue one but may take some judge shopping and maybe a campaign stop in CA or somewhere where anyone on the street more or less can petition for one. I mean… government works for us so technically Trump is our employee, right?

  15. I forget the exact quote and author, but one of our nation’s early leaders said something to the effect that laws should not solely be evaluated on the benefits they might produce but the harm they will cause. I think many of our current leaders should consider this.

  16. Cache Cache Cache Cache Cache Cache Cache.,
    As for Aluminum….
    Learn TIG welding to save freedom and anonymity.
    The important area has Preasure Zero stress
    At this point, there appears to be Zero to lose.

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