Red Flag Laws Can Make Our Whole Constitution Safer
I’ve warned here before that the left is hungry to seize most private firearms. It would seem charitable to take leftists at their word as to their motives. They just want to keep us all safe. That’s their sole, high-minded motive.
It’s not that they want to disarm the American public to remove the last, “nuclear option” for fighting tyranny that our Founders built into the Constitution. You know, so they can render us serfs. Saying that could come across as un-Christian and mean.
In order to signal our winsomeness, let’s stipulate that the left would never, never try to violate our fundamental liberties. Let’s pretend, for the sake of the peace which Jesus said that He came to bring, we think it a weird coincidence that where disarmed populations live, in various European Union countries:
- Homeschooling is illegal. The State can just seize your kids, even institutionalize them, if you try it.
- Criticizing immigration is a hate crime. And people have gone to jail for it.
- Criticizing Islam for its abusive treatment of women and religious minorities, or embrace of violent jihad, is illegal. And people have gone to jail for it.
- Preaching Christianity on the street can result in arrest, if LGBT or Muslim activists report your words as offensive.
- Helpless residents of major cities flee like geese or get butchered like lambs by armed terrorists, while they cower and wait for police to finally appear.
Death By Government
Do we really want to avoid the alarmist rhetoric that makes hipster youth pastors wince and go back in their man-caves for six more weeks? Then we also won’t mention this: In 100 years, governments used their monopoly of force to murder 169 million innocent civilians. (Not including war casualties.) What did those citizens have in common?
Virtually all of them got disarmed by governments first. So they were as helpless as the citizens of Hong Kong, who haven’t been massacred yet. That probably won’t happen for a few weeks, it seems. But when it does, if we want to keep peace, we’ll pretend that this massacre, and all those before it, had nothing whatsoever to do with citizens’ inability to defend themselves.
We can agree to attribute their deaths to … climate change.
Accept the Left’s Cover Story
If we define Christian charity as protecting everyone’s widdle feewings, and evading the blowback that comes from telling the truth? Then we’ll accept the left’s intentions at face value.
And we can do one better. We can apply the progressive principle, “safety first,” to the rest of the Constitution. Why stop at the Second Amendment? There are countless other unsafe passages all through the Constitution. (The work product, remember, entirely of white males, some of them slave owners.)
Time for a Modern, High-Tech Constitution
We don’t rely in other areas of life on 18th-century inventions. If you wouldn’t use a horse and buggy for transport and leeches for medical care, why should you trust a creaky old system of government written with goose quills on parchment in light cast by lamps full of whale oil? We Americans should rise up and insist on a new, improved, debugged and virus-free document. One that’s premised not on crackpot, tyrannophobic notions fit for men who hunt quail with muskets. Instead, we need rules based on safety.
The Thirteenth Amendment forbids slavery. The Fourteenth guarantees due process of law. The Fifteenth guarantees the right to vote. I think you can see how many new and creative ways our government could assert itself and solve our everyday problems caused by troublemakers and ne’er-do-wells if Red Flag laws removed these roadblocks to progress.
The Gospel’s Message: “Safety First”
I’ve looked at Red Flag Laws invented to make the Second Amendment safe. They all seem sound in principle. As I’ve explained here, they let any hostile neighbor, ex-wife or husband, or one-time yard contractor who resents bad Yelp reviews, pick up the phone and make a “safety” complaint about a gun-owner.
Then the police pass it on to a judge. He reads their email. He has to decide whether he wants to risk leaving guns in this citizen’s hands. There is no down side for the judge (who probably agrees with most of his colleagues that the Second Amendment is crazy) in seizing these guns. But on the .0000001% chance that he doesn’t take the guns, and this citizen does shoot someone? That judge’s career is over. What do you think his default decision is likely to be, almost every time?
The police then can show up without a search warrant, or even a warning, to seize all the citizens’ guns. They toss them in a safe somewhere. And the burden of proof, from here on out, is on the citizen to hire a lawyer and prove to that judge that he isn’t a dangerous extremist or future school shooter. Keep in mind that gun-grabbers in various states have adduced “a strong interest in guns” as evidence that someone is dangerous. So the very fact that you want to own any guns is an argument you shouldn’t have them.
Again, for the sake of charity and not offending anyone, let’s sign on to all of this. We’ve all agreed that “Safety first!” is the key takeaway from the Gospel. We should continue our outreach to progressives by extending that principle to plug all the dangerous holes in the Constitution. Justice Samuel Alito noted in his decision in McDonald v. Chicago that the nips and tucks people make to the Second Amendment could easily get applied to all the other liberties in the Constitution. Let’s take him at his word, and try it!
Plugging the Loopholes in the Constitution
I’ll just go through that brittle old document briefly to highlight ways to make it safer and man-child-friendly.
What if a house of worship featured sermons that outsiders or ex-members considered extremist? Or if that church/mosque/synagogue/Scientology Center distributed materials that challenged the fundamental rights of Americans, for instance to same-sex marriage? Or housed books that depicted, approvingly, of faith-based massacres (for instance, Joshua’s actions in Canaan)? A Red Flag law would allow someone to phone in a warning to police. They could close the place down and impound its materials until its pastor convinced a judge that the church was actually safe.
Likewise any newspaper or Internet site that promoted views which alarmed people as “hateful” or “intolerant.” Red Flag laws would shut them down, until a professional jurist declared them safe.
I feel safer already just thinking about this innovation, don’t you?
Disarming the Second Amendment
Red Flag laws for guns take care of this, of course. They make the exercise of a fundamental constitutional right dependent on the opinion of a single judge, acting on a complaint no one needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Whew, glad we got that one out of the way!
A Bicycle Helmet for the Risky Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment forbids “unreasonable searches and seizures,” and restricts such State actions to those approved by specific legal warrants. But countless criminals walk free every year because of technicalities their lawyers dig up, proving that cops got their evidence illegally.
A Red Flag law to fix this would lower the standard for search warrants to the same one applied to taking citizens’ guns: A single phone call from any person who’s worried. Just think how many criminals we could lock up, and how much easier policemen’s lives would be! Also, it would be much simpler to stick it to neighbors who don’t mow their yards, or put up political signs that offend you, or belong to ethnic/religious groups you aren’t fond of. If you see Muslims, say something!
Let’s Take the Fifth Out of Commission
This part of the Bill of Rights forbids, among other things, that anyone
be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
If we Red-Flag this amendment, we could apply the “worried neighbor” standard quite broadly. The government could move swiftly and decisively to protect us against people whose actions make us feel somehow unsafe. Or preemptively seize their property (not just their guns), and put the burden on them to retrieve it. The “due process of law” would contract to the back of the envelope calculations a single judge makes, as he does when judging whether to give someone back his guns.
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What Do Juries Know?
Prosecutors frequently get frustrated at the decisions of low-information, poorly educated, average schlub jurors — half them, statistically, certain to prove Deplorables. We can remove this costly and time-consuming obstacle to the swift imprisonment of criminals. How?
By forcing each defendant to meet the same burden of proof any gun-owner faces to regaining his Second Amendment rights under Red Flag laws. Defendants whom prosecutors consider “unsafe” will have to prove themselves entitled, at their own expense (no public defenders) to Sixth Amendment rights, and jury trials. This should clear out the backlog for criminal prosecutions!
We Can Bring Back Flogging and Branding
The Eighth Amendment forbids “cruel and unusual” punishments. Again, here a Red Flag can help us. A single judge’s decision can strip this fig leaf from each convicted criminal whom members of the public say they consider dangerous. We can leave it up to that judge whether thieves really need and deserve their right hand, or statutory rapists deserve to keep … you get the idea.
Those Reconstruction Obstructions
The Thirteenth Amendment forbids slavery. The Fourteenth guarantees due process of law. The Fifteenth guarantees the right to vote. I think you can see how many new and creative ways our government could assert itself and solve our everyday problems caused by troublemakers and ne’er-do-wells if Red Flag laws removed these roadblocks to progress. Just a single complaint that someone seemed likely to vote irresponsibly could put his franchise up for review, for instance. Let a qualified judge decide! De facto Red Flag laws fixing these amendments existed for decades across the South, with extensive public support. So we have plenty of precedent!
Are Women Really Safe Voters?
The Nineteenth Amendment says so. Not all agree. A Red Flag law would allow husbands, fathers, ex-husbands, and disappointed suitors to report women prone to voting unsafely, and let a judge hear the case on its merits.
John Zmirak is a Senior Editor at The Stream, and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration.