The state of Maryland has now officially put a “red flag” law on the books allowing government confiscation of lawfully owned firearms under certain conditions. The intent of the law is in keeping with concerns raised by many people in the wake of numerous mass shootings, but the implementation still suggests some alarming possibilities. CBS Baltimore has the details.
A new “red flag” law could take guns out of the hands of those who present a danger in a state recently plagued by mass shootings.
“If there hadn’t been a gun. it would have been an opportunity for her to be get help and she would still be here,” said Janice Uthe, whose daughter Amanda shot herself.
Those who have lost loved ones to gun violence gathered in Annapolis as Maryland’s “red flag” law went into effect. The purpose is to take guns out of the hands of people threatening violence against themselves or others, provided it’s reported by either a relative, other household residents, like roommates, or health care professionals.
Prior to the new law, even if police were notified, they had no jurisdiction to seize guns based on a call from a worried family member.
Rather than simply dismissing any attempt at gun regulations out of hand, we should first at least give a nod to the fact that the legislation does seek to provide an answer to questions raised after the last school shooting in Florida. In that case, people had reached out to law enforcement with concerns over the shooter’s behavior and their belief that he was too dangerous and disturbed to be trusted with firearms. We’ll never know for sure, but if authorities had responded to such alerts and had the ability to take away his firearms and have him evaluated, the shooting might have been prevented.
I’ll go one step further and say that the biggest concern I have about this law was obviously taken into consideration when legislators were crafting it. If all it takes to have someone’s legally owned firearms confiscated is an anonymous call, legions of liberal activists would be seeking out lists of gun owners and placing baseless calls to law enforcement with their “concerns.” The cops in Maryland would soon have no time to do anything but go house to house answering all those calls.
This legislation at least limits who can make such a call. The only people who will be able to file a report like this are relatives, others living in the same residence or health care professional who have evaluated the subject.
But is that good enough? Anyone with a disgruntled sibling, cousin, aunt or uncle could find themselves with their weapons locked up in the local police department’s lockers, forced to go through an expensive legal proceeding to “prove” that they aren’t a danger to themselves or others. The same goes for roommates who might have a beef with you over something as mundane as not paying their share of the rent.
But perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this law is the reference to health care professionals. If you are someone who is legitimately suffering from depression, anxiety or some other mental health issues and you happen to be a legal gun owner, are you going to go seek treatment, knowing that your therapist could drop a dime on you? I’m concerned that this could negatively impact mental health treatment rather than addressing the underlying problem.
I’d like to see more details about precisely what hoops citizens will have to jump through if they are the target of bogus calls about their perceived danger to society. And there should definitely be limits on what forms of mental health diagnosis would qualify for a call from a therapist. I suppose we’ll have to monitor the situation and see how it plays out, but there’s a real potential for abuse of this law at the expense of law-abiding gun owners.