By Colonel Mike Angley
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” ~Second Amendment, United States Constitution
With every major shooting incident (except for those in Chicago and most other Democrat-run crap-towns), the left reliably, instinctively, knee-jerkily, and ghoulishly uses it as a cudgel for gun control (read: confiscation). With the recent mass shootings in Dayton, OH and El Paso, TX, the latest ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’ over guns is taking form in two pushes: an assault weapons ban and Red Flag laws. This article will analyze both and provide some cautions about these latest attempts at infringement.
Before President Donald J. Trump raises the white flag on the Red Flag or an assault weapons ban, I would counsel him to re-ground himself in the meaning behind the Second Amendment (2A). Our Founding Fathers acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence that our rights are natural rights. Meaning, they come from God. Government does not grant rights and, in theory, cannot take them away. In fact, our Founders understood that when it comes to our natural rights, government’s sole duty is to protect them.
Accordingly, 2A enshrines the right to ‘keep and bear arms’ that our Creator endowed upon us and serves as a caution to government to keep its dirty hands off it. It limits government, and there are few things left-wing bureaucrats hate more than when citizens put the brakes on their power.
In fact, our Founders went the extra mile to ensure 2A was tamper-resistant. They added four additional, powerful words: ‘shall not be infringed.’ The word ‘infringe’ does not appear beside any other right in the Constitution, nor does it appear anywhere else in the entire sacred document. So how is it that the one right for which our Founders foot-stomped the hardest to prevent its infringement ends up being the most infringed upon?
It’s because the Second Amendment is the keystone to our freedoms, and once gone, so is our Republic. That’s how important it was to our Founders, and that’s how important it is to us today. We’re at a point in our history when we either succumb to yet more tyrannical erosion of our gun rights or we stand prepared to exercise that very right itself to protect the Constitution and the Republic.
The ‘Assault’ Weapons Ban
One of the perennial favorite forms of gun control is the drive for a ban on so-called ‘assault’ weapons. The problem lies in defining what this means. But that’s intentional, as I’ll explain.
If you ask your average left-wing politician, Democrat or Socialist (same poison), to define an assault weapon, they’ll use terms like ‘military style’ or ‘weapons of war,’ keeping things intentionally vague. Most of these descriptions come from the vilified AR-15 or AK-47 which have featured in some of the mass shootings. Simply put, they are ‘scary’ looking to the left.
I’d argue that anything used to assault someone is an assault weapon, and that includes all firearms and knives, bats, brass knuckles, etc. And in that lies the caution. An ill-defined ban on assault weapons means the door is wide open to later include all sorts of firearms. There have been many Democrats who’ve called for a ban on semi-automatic pistols, for example. We already have limits on handgun magazine capacity in many states. Handguns are not off the table.
If I may make one prediction it’s this. Within days of a new law banning assault weapons, regardless of how the statute defines them, Democrats will push for the inclusion of semi-automatic pistols and other firearms. This would usher in a form of confiscation, a utopia the left salivates over.
Red (Herring) Flag Laws and Stealth Confiscation (Plus an Added ‘Bonus!’)
Let’s face it, there seem to be underlying mental health issues with most of the mass shootings over the past several years. Both sides of the aisle tend to agree on that point. There’s a certain allure in the calls to reform mental health and prevent guns from getting in the hands of those with issues that put them at risk of committing violence. Many states have rushed to pass Red Flag laws, so-called because the idea is to early on identify the red flags that indicate someone may pose a threat to himself or others.
Red Flag laws generally work like this: someone lodges a complaint with law enforcement or a court alleging that another poses a threat of harm. Courts may issue a protection order that has attached to it another order that operates like a de facto search warrant. Law enforcement uses this order to confiscate the future perp’s guns. Due process mechanisms (to get your guns back) vary from none at all to hearings, proceedings, or simply a timeout after which the guns are returned.
But are Red Flag laws genuine, meaningful, valid mental health reforms that actually keep the mentally unstable from having access to guns? Or, are they something else? Here are my gripes with the concept.
- Red Flag Laws are Actually Stealth Gun Confiscation Laws. A confiscation order is designed to grab your gun now, ask questions later. It aims to get guns off the street right away and leave the icky due process considerations to another day (if ever). With Democrats, ‘meaningful gun control legislation’ is always, 100% of the time, about confiscation. Make no mistake about that.
- Red Flag Laws Violate the Constitution’s 4th Amendment Protections. The typical confiscation order is based upon unvetted, unverified evidence. A complainant alleges future harm, hardly the ‘probable cause’ standard 4A demands, nor is a confiscation order a bona fide warrant. But if ordered by a court, cops will ‘come and take them,’ molon labe notwithstanding.
- Red Flag Laws Have Sketchy Due Process Mechanisms. Want your gun back? Well, in some places, that may never happen. In others, the process may be as extra-Constitutional as the confiscation order that took your gun away. There may be court proceedings, or there may not be. In some jurisdictions, you may get your gun back after a waiting period, when the ‘Department of Future Crime’ determines the crystal ball upon which it relied to take your firearm was incorrect. If you happen to live in a place where LE and judges are liberal, then you’re likely out of luck.
Along the way, you will have significant costs, lawyers’ fees and court costs, and quite likely, health care bills as you seek the services of mental health professionals to refute the claim you pose a danger. All this because someone ‘believed’ you posed a threat.
- Red Flag Laws Reverse the Presumption of Innocent Until Proven Guilty. That should be obvious by now, but it bears reinforcement. When the courts and LE community are guided by ‘confiscate now, due process later,’ it’s hardly a case for the presumption of innocence. The ‘urgency’ to get firearms out of your maniacal hands is the rationale used to presume you are guilty and then lay the inconvenience of proving innocence in your lap and wallet.
- Red Flag Laws Give the Mental Health Community WAY Too Much Power. When your guns are taken because government feels you may pose a threat, all eyes turn to mental health professionals to conduct an evaluation to guide the courts. There are a host of issues with this.
First, the psychiatric profession is not exactly known for its conservatism. Many of these people are already card-carrying members of the ’38 Genders Club,’ among other leftist nutjob causes. To rely on a community predisposed to hate guns to certify you should have your guns returned is a fool’s errand.
Second, most mental health professionals will tell you it is impossible to predict future behavior (despite the fundamental ‘predictive’ purpose of Red Flag laws). As such, they will be unlikely to issue clean bills of health. Not to mention the potential liability they face should they recommend guns be returned and then someone goes bonkers and shoots up a store.
- Red Flag Laws are a Form of Stealth Free Speech Infringement. This is the bonus point I saved for last since it’s not so obvious. If the premise behind Red Flag laws is that a person’s words, spoken or written, can form the basis of threat, then government now has inserted itself into the business of regulating speech.
Bureaucrats will decide if your free speech is threatening, an art and hardly a science, and in that there are dangers. How does government define what a threat is? It will be awfully tempting for governments to decide that simple disagreement with a certain religion is now ‘hate speech’ or a threat. How about when someone criticizes government or politicians for lousy governance?
Don’t think this is likely? Michelle Malkin penned an article (Warning: How the VA ‘Red Flags’ Patriots) about how the Veterans Administration does precisely this and flags veterans for such egregious things as complaining about lousy VA healthcare.
Where Do We Go From Here?
I would urge President Trump to proceed with caution. He’s under significant pressure to do something, anything in the wake of two mass shootings. I’ve always observed that when Democrats push hard and fast on anything involving guns, it’s never in favor of gun rights, and always a step closer to confiscation. The assault weapons ban and Red Flag laws are no different.
The fact that reliably-establishment Republicans are ‘reaching across the aisle’ in a spirit of ‘collegiality’ adds to my worry. Every one of those bastards is a Democrat caterpillar in a cocoon.
Here’s a prediction. Once a national Red Flag law goes into effect, there will be a spate of false claims of threat made against tens of thousands of Americans, if not more. Some will be legitimate, many not. There will be ‘swatting’ operations where false complaints are made to cause LE to descend upon homes, conduct searches, and steal weapons.
The left will use Red Flag laws to target conservatives. But it works both ways. Patriots may just rise up and start reporting leftists for their many threats to commit violence. After all, it’s usually celebrities and lefty activists who tweet threats against the President and others. I sure wouldn’t feel comfortable if any of them owned guns…
But there’s a more ominous possibility. Good Americans may finally say ‘no more!’ and demand an end to the erosion of our God-given rights. There was a reason our Founders gave us 2A to begin with, and that was to warn government not to tamper with gun rights. The inherent remedy, ironically, is those gun rights themselves. Will patriots rise up in arms to stop further encroachment?
Time will tell.
Colonel Michael (“Mike”) Angley is retired from the United States Air Force, a published thriller author, and a conservative writer who fashions himself as Attila the Hun with a laptop. Mike wrote for Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government and Big Peace blogs before the Breitbart consolidation, receiving superb feedback and kudos for typically weaving in pop culture references with his far right perspectives. He enjoys writing about military affairs, national security issues, and politics and is an avid Second Amendment advocate. When he’s not writing, he’s busy annoying liberals with FaceBook posts and Twitter tweets that point out the obvious flaws and fallacies of the left.
During his 26-year USAF career, the Colonel was a Special Agent with the Office of Special Investigations (OSI). The OSI is a sister agency to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and has an identical mission that includes felony-level criminal, fraud, and narcotics investigations as well as counterintelligence and counterterrorism operations. His USAF experiences spanned multiple regions around the globe with five command assignments and duties at foreign, regional, theater and national levels.
He is a seasoned counterintelligence and counterespionage officer from the Cold War era, and if you ask him he’ll tell you the spy-vs-spy days were indeed the heady, glory era of espionage. During the latter half of his career he focused on counterterrorism missions in the Middle East and the Far East and operationalized many of today’s concepts for this unique arena while working the sand dunes of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and a few other “choice” locations. When Colonel Angley retired in 2007, he was a Senior Supervisory Special Agent and was in command of all worldwide OSI matters at Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, CO.
Mike Angley is also a published, award-winning author of three thriller novels in the “Child Finder” trilogy. His debut novel, “Child Finder,” received a glowing review from the Library Journal which placed it on its Summer Reading list in 2009. “Child Finder” and its companion sequel novels all won various awards from the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) and the Public Safety Writers Association. In 2012, Mike was named MWSA’s “Author of the Year,” largely for work on his third novel, “Child Finder: Revelation.”
As an avid user of social media, Mike can be found and friended on Facebook (mike.angley) and followed on Twitter (@MikeAngley). His website is www.mikeangley.com. Following his USAF retirement, Mike and his family stayed in Colorado Springs, CO where they enjoy daily, majestic views of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains.