June 24, 2022
The language of a sweeping gun control package promised by a compromising bipartisan group of Senators was revealed on Monday and, as expected, proved to include blatantly anti-gun attacks on the rights of law-abiding American gun owners.
Led by new compromiser-in-chief Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the measure includes state-funding red flag law provisions and expanded background checks for young Americans—both of which are constitutionally problematic at the very least.
Of course, you wouldn’t know that listening to those responsible for the legislation.
“Our legislation will save lives and will not infringe on any law-abiding American’s Second Amendment rights,” Cornyn, Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, and Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, said in a joint statement.
In truth, Senate supporters of the measure are making what amounts to a number of ineffective changes sound far less menacing than they really are. And while the measure includes a number of mental health-related changes that might be effective in curbing mass murder, the sections on the funding of red flag laws at the state level and more stringent background checks for young adults wishing to purchase a firearm will likely cause more deaths than save lives.
The measure provides grant funding for states to implement red flag laws. In truth, nearly every red flag law currently on the books turns the concept of innocent until proven guilty upside down. While they vary somewhat by state, most such laws allow family members or other acquaintances to ask a state court judge to confiscate firearms from someone they believe poses a threat to their safety. In most cases, a hearing is held where the petitioner can present “evidence” that the person in question should have his guns taken.
The person under consideration for having his guns confiscated might not even be aware that such proceedings are taking place. In fact, such an “extreme risk protection order,” or ERPO, can be approved against these citizens without their having a single opportunity to present evidence of why they should not be suddenly deprived of their constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
The red flag provision for states in the Senate measure promises to protect American gun owners’ due process rights without specifying exactly how it would do so. And while it says that those who have had an order filed against them would have a right to an attorney at a hearing, the government won’t provide public defenders for such a proceeding. So, a vengeful ex could not only have a former husband’s gun collection confiscated out of spite, but also bankrupt him at the same time through attorney and court fees.
As for the changes for those 18 to 20 years old wishing to buy a firearm, the measure requires additional background checks, which there is no framework in place to conduct. The verbiage grants three days for the additional check, but allows 10 if authorities aren’t satisfied that the check has been thoroughly conducted, basically creating a waiting period for purchases by young adults.
Of course, waiting periods have not proven effective at reducing violent crime anywhere they’ve been instituted. Additionally, it’s easy to see how this could be dangerous. For instance, a 19-year-old woman who is being threatened by a dangerous ex-boyfriend and decides she needs a firearm to protect herself could easily be killed by that violent ex while she waits for approval of her “enhanced” background check.
As Judge Kenneth Lee of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals put in a concurring opinion in the court case Jones v. Bonta, where the court found a ban on ownership of semi-auto rifles for 18- to 20-year-olds to be unconstitutional: “We … do not typically limit constitutional rights based on the age of adults. Young adults have the same constitutional rights as the middle-aged or the elderly—even if some of them may not necessarily have the wisdom or judgment that age and experience can bring—for the same reason that we do not limit fundamental rights based on supposed intelligence, maturity or other characteristics. We thus allow 18-year-olds to join the military and lay down their lives in defense of our freedoms.”
Other gun-related provisions in the bill would make already illegal “straw purchases” of firearms even more illegal and change some of the existing language about who is “in the business” of selling firearms, making private sales somewhat more difficult.
According to media reports, at least 10 Senate Republicans support the bill, eliminating the possibility of a Republican filibuster, which makes the effort likely to pass the upper chamber. It would then go to the U.S. House, which has already passed its own gun control measure, for ratification.
The National Rifle Association probably put it best in that organizations’ response to the Senate measure.
“The NRA will support legislation that improves school security, promotes mental health services, and helps reduce violent crime,” the organization said in a prepared statement. “However, we will oppose this gun control legislation because it falls short at every level. It does little to truly address violent crime while opening the door to unnecessary burdens on the exercise of Second Amendment freedom by law-abiding gun owners.
“This legislation can be abused to restrict lawful gun purchases, infringe upon the rights of law-abiding Americans and use federal dollars to fund gun control measures being adopted by state and local politicians. This bill leaves too much discretion in the hands of government officials and also contains undefined and overbroad provisions—inviting interference with our constitutional freedoms.”
Gun Owners of America (GOA) also voiced its opposition to the Senate bill, which it said was “unconstitutional.”
“Once again, so-called ‘conservative’ Senators are making clear they believe that the rights of American citizens can be compromised away,” Erich Pratt, GOA executive vice president, wrote after the bill language was released. “Let me be clear, they have NO AUTHORITY to compromise with our rights, and we will not tolerate legislators who are willing to turn gun owners into second-class citizens. GOA fully opposes this unconstitutional legislation and will continue to encourage our millions of members to make their voices heard to their elected officials on this bill.”
About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.
- How Fighting a Red-Flag Law Confiscation Can Kill Your Finances, May 31, 2022
- Supreme Court Unanimously Rules Against Gun Confiscation, May 19, 2021
- COVID-19 Emergencies Further Prove the Danger of Red Flag Laws, Apr. 27, 2020
- Will Red Flag Laws Be Used to Set up Gun Owners? Apr. 16, 2019
- BREAKING NEWS: President Trump Greenlights Red Flag Laws, Aug. 5, 2019
- Red Flag Laws Endanger You and Your Family, Aug. 27, 2019
- Ivanka Trump's Support of Unconstitutional Red Flag Laws: a Red Flag to Gun Owners, Aug. 28, 2019
- The Danger of 'Red Flag Laws', Nov. 9, 2018