There has been a trend nationally to bring red flag legislation that expands the circumstances that law enforcement can strip someone of firearms. LA House Representative Carter sponsored such legislation for the second time this year. It was defeated in 2018 but he brought it back again this year as HB483.
Red flag laws permit police of family members to petition the court to order the removal of firearms from a person that may be a danger to themselves or another. After a warrant is issued, law enforcement then can search for the firearms and seize them without notification. This circumvents due process and allows law enforcement to confiscate before allowing the individual to defend the complaint until a hearing that comes after confiscation. While on the surface, this seems like it could be a good thing, we need to take into account the ripple effect that it has and what it does to someone’s constitutional rights. Our constitution states that we shall not be deprived of property without due process and is there enough evidence that allows the search and seizure.
My biggest concern here is that it allows too much room for abuse. From the outside in, it’s hard to understand how much people lie for their own benefit or because they are angry at someone else but it happens all of the time. In many cases, someone may simply misconstrue what someone is really trying to portray. Should we really violate someone’s constitutional rights based off of allegations without credible evidence?
Rep. Carter testified very passionately about HB483. One of his complaints about current law is that law enforcement can’t take someone’s firearms after being arrested for domestic violence and making death threats to the victim. Current laws already provide a judge with the ability to grant protective orders where a credible threat has been shown. Federal law prohibits anyone subject to a DV protective order from possessing a gun.
This bill also adds to the stigma that anyone seeking mental health is a danger to themselves and needs to have firearms removed from their possession. Will this not lead to fewer people seeking help? Also, the coroner in LA can have someone involuntarily committed if shown that they are a danger to themselves.
I’m sure we can all agree that none of us would want someone who is a danger to themselves or others to be in possession of firearms. We just need to go about it the correct way. With others, I testified against this bill on May 21, 2019, during the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice. We defeated it 10-7. You can watch the full testimony at http://house.louisiana.gov/H_Video/VideoArchivePlayer.aspx?v=house/2019/may/0521_19_CJ