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RED FLAG LAWS ARE COMING TO COLORADO BY MICHAEL LOPEZ
Democrats have wasted no time announcing radical changes to the way that we live life in Colorado. It appears they have little or no regard for the rights of the citizens they now represent. Under the guise of “protecting the people,” they plan to reintroduce the so called “red flag” bill, which was defeated last year. The law would allow a person’s family members, as well as members of law enforcement, to file for a protective order to temporarily remove weapons from a person by accusing them of being a threat to themselves or others.
Democrats hope to pass the legislation soon, likely in January. On the surface, this plan sounds good and logical to many people; however, there is now a case out of Maryland that raises startling questions regarding the execution of such a law.
Hardly a month after a similar “red flag” law went into effect in Maryland, a man was shot and killed following an attempt to serve a protective order—at 5:17 in the morning, when nobody would expect visitors—that would have stripped him of his weapons. The man was cooperative with police until they began to tell him that he would be losing access to his weapons. Unfortunately, this ultimately meant that a 61 year old man lost his life. This tragic incident is an example of what can happen when armed agents of the state come to try and take legally owned weapons from someone who has committed no crime. What’s ironic is that, under any other circumstance, it was actually the police who committed a crime by killing a man who had committed no crime.
To compound the issue in Maryland, the law states that these kinds of orders are confidential, meaning that the press is unable to identify why the protection order was issued, what reasoning was behind the order, or anything that would help us to understand why a man who committed no crime is dead. We don’t know if he was planning anything. We don’t know if there was an argument—or even a mere disagreement—between himself and his sister that lead to this. We know nothing about the legality of this incident.
This is the major issue with “red flag” laws. You are punished before there is any evidence that you will commit a crime, before you are convicted of any crime, and before you have an opportunity to defend yourself. These laws turn the presumption of innocence on its head. According to Colorado Representative Alec Garnett, “you set in step an emergency process to intervene, and then there’s a full hearing seven days later where the petitioner and law enforcement come together and talk to the judge in a full evidentiary hearing to talk about whether that extreme risk protection order should continue.” This statement raises a lot of questions that need to be answered.
During the seven days between being served a protection order and when your case goes before a judge, are you being detained? Are the police allowed full reign of your home and property to seek evidence that you are a danger to yourself and the public? If the police are not allowed full reign of your property, how will they find any evidence against you? Who exactly is the petitioner that will stand next to law enforcement in front of the judge? If you are found innocent, do you have any legal recourse against the person that filed the order against you? What is to stop the same person from merely filing another order several months later?
This law carries with it the echoes of the “Sedition Act” of 1918, in which the government imprisoned people for using “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” against the government, the flag, the armed forces, or caused others to view the government in a negative light. While it seems far fetched now, the “Sedition Act” was upheld by the Supreme Court as legal. At least in these instances, there was likely written proof of the crime.
While we can all agree that something needs to be done to address the very disturbed minds that see no value in human life, we shouldn’t be so quick to allow the state this kind of control over any of our rights. The Libertarian Party of Colorado is patently against such a law, and everyone who believes in justice should be too.
Michael Lopez is a freelance writer, entrepreneur, and libertarian who is dedicated to protecting the union that our founders established for us. You can read more of his thoughts at www.deadletters.org
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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Lance Cayko at 303.775.7406 or email at CommunicationsDirector@LPColorado.org.