There is a bill going through the Georgia House right now that some refer to as ‘Red Flag’ legislation. Briefly, Red Flags give police officers the authority to confiscate personal firearms if a person is deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. In some states, these laws simply require someone to make a complaint and the bench warrant is immediately issued. That does not appear to be the case with the Georgia bill.
If I am understanding it correctly, this bill, HB 435, requires a hearing before any form of confiscation. In other words, the person whose Second Amendment rights are being abrogated has the chance to defend themself before it happens. The question is, is this a common-sense approach to some form of gun control?
It appears that HB 435 has bipartisan support and is likely to pass. Interestingly enough, there is also an anti-Red Flag bill being circulated. I have no word on the amount of support that bill has, but I’d bet the farm it’s fairly low.
So, my problem with HB 435 is why have it? What we are talking about here is competency. If a person is making threats, or somehow acting out with a firearm, doesn’t the law already provide for that? Wouldn’t the person already be required to be under psychiatric evaluation and have a competency hearing?
Any state or local laws that seek to somehow side-step the Constitution gives me cause for concern. I can see the law being challenged before the Supreme Court at some point. More to the point, whose job is it, in an HB 435 hearing, to prove their case? It sounds like the person who is about to have their firearms taken away has to prove that they are okay to keep them rather than the state having to prove they aren’t. How does one do that?
When it comes to individual rights, how can the burden of proof be on the person whose rights are being taken away? That doesn’t make sense. Do you stand before the judge and say, that you are really okay, or that you were joking? How much weight is that going to carry?
The fact that someone put this bill in and so many people think it’s a good thing is a little scary. It says to me that the only people who have thought this through are the ones who don’t want anyone to have guns. Unless there is a standard, a threshold that must be met where the state must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, I believe this bill is the first step down as slippery a slope as exists.
Please take the time to think things through. Have a great weekend.