Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia admitted a few months ago that he would confiscate an individual’s firearms based upon an anonymous tip that the individual was a threat to himself or others.
Gramaglia was testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform back in May when he was directly asked by Louisiana Congressman Clay Higgins (R) whether he would enforce confiscatory red flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders.
“Would you go to your neighbor’s home and confiscate his legally owned weapons, a man that was not under a criminal investigation nor under arrest? Would you do it?” Higgins asked.
“The red flag laws…,” Gramaglia began, when Higgins interjected, “That’s a ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ brother.”
“It’s more than a yes or no answer,” said Gramaglia.
Higgins went on to explain how red flag laws operate and how low the evidentiary bar is to trigger enforcement.
“‘Determined to be’ is defined by the letter of this law to be an anonymous tip that an American citizen is a threat to themselves or others,” noted Higgins.
“You’re a police commissioner, a thin-blue-line brother, sworn to uphold the constitution and you’re saying you’d seize those weapons,” he continued. “I see that as a problem.”
Red flag laws work like so, a citizen is disarmed and loses his right to keep and bear arms until he can convince a judge that he is not a threat to society.
Under this system, one is guilty until proven innocent or, more accurately, rendered disarmed and defenseless until the state decrees the accused is no longer a danger to himself or others.
It’s worth noting that it can be weeks before the accused is allowed to go before a judge to defend himself in the face of the allegations. As the saying goes, justice delayed is justice denied.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association, spoke to GunsAmerica in the past about the many issues surrounding red flag laws.
“We are talking about depriving law-abiding citizens of their fundamental civil liberties and if that is to occur, those affected parties have a right to confront witnesses and evidence before a judge renders a decision to enforce an order,” said Mark Oliva, NSSF managing director of public affairs.
“In exigent circumstances when an individual poses an immediate danger to themselves or others, those individuals still have rights and must be afforded the opportunity to come before a judge within a reasonable timeframe. When an individual is arrested, they are before a judge within 24-72 hours. There’s no reason someone should be deprived of their civil liberties without the same standard of justice,” he added.
There is no hard evidence to suggest that red flag laws “save lives” to the degree proponents tout, but there is plenty of evidence that they are just the start of a larger confiscation scheme. Case in point, states have been expanding the scope on who is allowed to petition a court for a red flag order.
Initially, it was law enforcement and immediate family members only who had that power. Now, many states have added to that list registered nurses, psychologists, social workers, teachers, and a wide variety of extended family members and acquaintances.
But wait, it gets worse. In at least one state, lawmakers have discussed eliminating the expiration date on red flag orders altogether. In most cases, it’s only supposed to last one year. But politicians in Connecticut have talked about imposing it indefinitely.
It also bears mentioning that red flag laws do not provide help or assistance to those deemed a public danger. The government assumes that the immediate seizure of firearms is all that is necessary to render a potentially violent person impotent.
The sole focus is on taking guns. But sharp objects, blunt instruments, and automobiles kill thousands of people each year. However, under a red flag law, a suspect’s access to these “weapons” remains unrestricted.
Last month, Biden signed the “Safer Communities Act,” the first major federal gun control legislation in 30 years. While many saw it as a big nothing burger in terms of its immediate effect on 2A rights, contained in that law are incentives for states to adopt these confiscatory red flag schemes. Nineteen states already have them on the books. Time will tell how many will follow suit now that there’s federal aid on the table.
The hard truth about red flag laws is they weren’t crafted by the state to take guns away from criminals or the mentally deranged. We have plenty of existing laws to handle those legitimate threats. No, politicians designed red flag laws to take guns away from you. And unfortunately, it appears they have at least one police commissioner in power that is eager and willing to do their bidding.