Let's chat about Graham's "red flag" law proposal

I still really haven’t finished processing the President’s remarks in the wake of this weekend’s shootings where he suddenly launched into a call for bipartisan gun control measures. In the aftermath, Ed Morrissey discussed the formation of the new GOP gun law caucus in the Senate. I suppose today’s news will wind up being part of that process since it does indeed involve gun control in the GOP controlled Senate.

Lindsey Graham has announced that he will shortly be unveiling a new “red flag” law bill, which most of you will likely realize is more properly called a gun confiscation bill. I’ve written about such bills passed at the state level in the past, but now we’ll apparently have to have the debate in Washington. (Daily Caller)

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday he plans to introduce a bipartisan “red flag” gun confiscation bill that will have President Donald Trump’s support.

Graham announced he had reached a deal with Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal to create a federal grant program to help states establish “red flag” laws, or laws that facilitate gun confiscation when a threat is detected, according to a statement.

“I have reached an agreement with Senator Blumenthal to create a federal grant program to assist and encourage states to adopt ‘Red Flag’ Protection Order laws to timely intervene in situations where there is an imminent threat of violence,” the South Carolina senator said.

We don’t even have the actual bill to evaluate yet, but Graham assures us that President Trump seems “very supportive” so there’s probably at least an outline of it in progress somewhere. But he’s given us a few of the details in advance.

The first thing to recognize is that this isn’t intended to be a federal red flag law that would apply to all the states. (There’s at least one bullet dodged.) Instead, this would be a plan to develop resources designated to assist the individual states in developing their own red flag laws. As long as it’s not mandatory for all fifty states to implement something, there’s a measure of damage control built into the system. Some states have already passed such laws with varying results, while others have shown no appetite for the project.

It’s worth bringing up yet again that the intent of these red flag laws actually has some merit. Identifying people who can verifiably be determined to be dangerous and removing their weapons… who is opposed to that, right? But the devil is in the details, as the saying goes, and the implementation is fraught with risks.

Red flag laws allow people to file a report with law enforcement, informing them that someone with firearms poses an immediate threat. But who gets to make such a report? If it’s limited to law enforcement officers, medical professionals with direct knowledge and perhaps immediate family members, then it might not be too bad. If your crazy ex-girlfriend can pick up the phone and send the cops to your door, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

But even with the tighter restrictions, there are still problems. Not all calls from immediate family members will be made in good faith. Some medical professionals (perhaps ones with a heavy anti-gun bias) may draw a very different line as to who might be considered “dangerous.” This leaves us in the unfortunate situation of cops and judges from very different backgrounds having to sort out which reports merit action.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone who has been (or can be) properly adjudicated in court as being dangerously unstable can be disarmed. Persons with a history of violent crime are in that category as well, though they really shouldn’t have a firearm in the first place. And those who can credibly be shown to have made serious threats of causing injury to themselves or others can, at least for a time, have their firearms removed while the situation is evaluated. But can any of these laws be guaranteed to produce only those results? I remain skeptical at best.