“Red flag” confiscation laws are a legal abomination. By design, they deliberately eliminate due process protections by suspending an individual’s Second Amendment rights without a hearing (at least one where the targeted gun owner is present).
Red flag laws, or gun violence restraining orders as they’re sometimes called, also eliminate the need for evidence, since the presence of actual evidence of a true threat is already grounds for a regular protective order under current laws. Laws with due process protections that may include arrest (since a criminal threat is a crime, after all).
As if those features of current “red flag” laws aren’t bad enough, they take just a single type of weapon away from the allegedly dangerous target of the confiscation order, leaving the now-justifiably angry person still on street to use a baseball bat, knife, car, machete — whatever — to potentially act out in some manner.
While those features of “red flag” laws in other states are bad, Tennessee’s Sen. Sara Kyle [D-Memphis] and Rep. Gloria Johnson [D-Knoxville] have found additional ways that would give their state a “red flag” law that’s far worse than any bill I’ve seen to date in any other state or at the federal level.
Their bills (SB1807/HB1873) are crafted in such a way to make it absolutely clear that these are not simply the result of well-intentioned ignorance on the part of lawmakers. These bills are deliberately malicious.
- Aside from the usual family/household member or police, an order may be requested by anyone who ever went on a date with the subject (any “intimate partner”), any time, anywhere.
- The petitioner — no matter how spurious their claim — cannot be hit with any court costs.
- The ex parte (not present) subject of a “red flag” confiscation order, however, is hit with the court costs, including those normally charged to the petitioner (“all court costs, filing fees, litigation taxes, and attorney fees shall be assessed against the respondent”).
- The target of a confiscation order cannot have a hearing for at least five days, and it can be up to thirty days before one takes place.
- And the pièce de résistance: An order may be requested by any Tennessee resident against anyone anywhere in the world (the respondent — target — doesn’t have to be a resident of Tennessee, though how they’d enforce those orders in other jurisdictions isn’t quite clear).
If those aren’t enough, an order can be “served” on the target simply by mailing it to their last address known to the petitioner. After that, the poor sucker is subject to arrest for “violating” the order even if he didn’t get it and doesn’t know about it. There’s a good chance of that because according to the bill’s language, “service” is complete upon dropping the envelope in the mail, not when it is received.
Just in case you were holding out hope that a judge would exercise discretion in issuing a “red flag” confiscation order, as has finally happened in Colorado, the Tennessee bills specify that confiscation petitions “shall be liberally construed procedurally in favor of the petitioner.“
The proposed Tennessee red flag law also contains other provisions unseen in any other “red flag” bills: specific allowances for destroying the business of targets who are federal firearms licensees. Inventory must be disposed of within 48 hours, or locked in a safe; simply barring the targeted person from the premises while his employees do business is not allowed (unless another person is named on the federal firearms license).
I happen to have a disturbed relative who lives in Memphis. She has publicly and explicitly stated that she hates guns and wants everyone over fifty-five years of age eliminated. She made a point of telling me that on my own blog.
It’s almost as if she contacted her state senator, Sara Kyle, to request a law that would allow her to legally reach out and SWAT me where I live, here in a different state.
Kyle and Johnson should have titled their bills The Vindictive Stalker Empowerment Act.