My last two posts have been about mass shootings and gun control. Usually, I switch topics after each post to cover what’s going on at any given moment. The fact that I am sticking with gun violence shows just how important this issue is. Mass shootings have occurred many times in the past. Little to nothing has been done by our lawmakers to address the issue in a meaningful way legislatively. To his credit, President Trump was able to ban bump stocks in March of this year. Bump stocks were used by the shooter in the October 2017 Las Vegas massacre. Several lawsuits were brought on by gun rights groups attempting to block the implementation of the executive order. Several lower courts and the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately shot down those efforts.
The topic of Red Flag Laws or Extreme Risk Laws as they are more commonly known has been front and center in the gun control debate. Simply put, a red flag law is a gun violence prevention law that permits the police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves.
CBSNEWS.com recently published an article where they discussed the topic of Red Flag Laws and which states have them implemented. The article lists the states that have versions of Extreme Risk Laws on the books, which states are considering similar laws, and whether or not Red Flag Laws are effective. Here is a portion of the success’s the article mentions.
Indiana and Connecticut have had ERPO laws in place for over a decade, meaning that there is some research on the law’s efficacy in stemming gun violence. After Connecticut bolstered its enforcement for the law first enacted in 1999, a study found that the state’s firearm suicide rate declined by 14%. Between 2005, when the law was enacted in Indiana and 2015, the firearm suicide rate decreased by 7.5%.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a pro-gun control group backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, ERPO laws have been invoked several times to prevent potential violence against schools. In Seattle, Washington, a regional firearms enforcement unit has recovered 200 firearms from 48 orders.
While preparing for this post, I read several articles that supported arguments on both sides of this debate. Suicides account for two-thirds of all firearms-related deaths in the United States. While the reduction in firearms-related deaths by suicide may seem like proof of the law’s effectiveness, the results are misleading and inconclusive. What we don’t know is the number of people who committed suicide by any means other than a firearm and whether or not they had their weapons taken away from them as a result of Red Flag Laws being implemented. We don’t know if the people who had their firearms taken away went on to commit firearms deaths with weapons that were given to them by or stolen from someone else. We also don’t know if those same people who had their weapons taken away via a court order went on to harm themselves or someone else with any other weapon other than a firearm. In other words, we don’t know whether Red Flag Laws ultimately stop or reduce gun violence or violence as a whole.
This is a very frustrating topic. I compare these Extreme Risk Protection Order Laws to your everyday protection orders. Protection orders have multiple areas of coverage from which the court attempts to protect the applicant from the adverse party. A typical use of protection orders is when the applicant feels their life is at risk or in danger and seeks protection from the person causing that fear. The protection orders can be temporary or extended. While most sane people adhere to the judge’s orders to cease any and all communication with the applicant and stay away from them, there have been times when the order was ignored and the results have been fatal. The keyword here is sane.
So who’s shooting who? We know gun violence attributes to two-thirds of suicides. We know those who are hell-bent on causing terror and destruction could care less about our laws and will rent a box truck to kill as many people as they can or blow themselves up and anyone near them while wearing a suicide vest. While we can’t stop criminals who are already barred from obtaining weapons and getting their hands on firearms completely, we can do an analysis on which demographics and localities have the highest propensity for gun violence and see if there are any correlations. If we can narrow down the research to who and where hopefully we can find an answer to why they are doing the shooting and how we can minimize or prevent it from happening in the future.
If Red Flags Laws are a part of the solution we should force our Congressmen to enact it into federal law. If poverty and lack of economic opportunity are the cause, we should look into creating public-private partnerships that work together to bring a depressed community out of poverty. If the amount of bullets a gun magazine holds is the problem, and not just a political talking point, create federal laws that put a cap on the amount. If the generic term of assault weapons is to blame, identify what traits classify as an “assault weapon” and permanently ban them. The same goes for background checks on weapons transactions regardless of where they occur. Enact every common-sense gun safety law you can think of and see the results. If at the end of the day the results are inconclusive and gun violence remains the same, we only have two choices. Option one is the elimination of the second amendment. As a pro-gun proponent, I strongly oppose this. The other option is the most likely and gets to the heart of the matter. While many people feel guns are the problem I’ve never seen a gun go off by itself. Whether it’s criminals shooting criminals in gang-related shootings, a lone wolf gunman whose been radicalized over the internet, or just your every day, lonely, depressed soul, who feels no one cares about them and wants to leave their mark on the world. People are to blame for the pain brought on by gun violence. After every mass shooting, there’s a one-word statement that is asked by all, why? Until we get to the root cause of the epidemic and find out the reason why we are shooting each other we will never find a way to reduce gun violence. As our nation grieves the loss of more souls at the hands of senseless gun violence, our leaders need to do what’s right and put politics and political correctness aside. Until they do that, we will only be left thinking about what was done and praying it doesn’t happen again. A quote from Albert Einstein summarizes this topic the best. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Without bold leadership from people who are willing to enact change, we will revisit this topic in the future and the results will be the same.