As if it weren’t bad enough that Democrats want to disarm as many folks as possible, these days Republicans are jumping in the gun control game too. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a bill Jan. 3 called the Extreme Risk Protection Order and Violence Prevention Act of 2019. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s essentially the federal version of Florida’s risk protection plan.
…“legally” stripping him or her of the right to bear arms.
As Liberty Nation’s Kelli Ballard explained last August, judges in the Sunshine State can now issue risk protection orders against people who have been accused of being either a danger to themselves or others. How are Rubio’s bill and the Florida law U.S. Constitution compliant, you ask? That’s a good question, and we’re still waiting for a sufficient answer.
Sponsored by Sens. Rubio, Jack Reed (D-RI), Angus King (I-ME), and Susan Collins (R-ME), this bit of legislation would modify the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, which established the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration and federal funding for state and local police agencies. If passed, this will create yet another way for the federal government to incentivize certain types of police action across the nation by creating the Extreme Risk Protection Order Grant Program.
To receive funds, the state or tribe must have laws allowing courts to issue risk protection orders. In much simpler terms, it’s Rubio’s way of bribing states and tribes to follow Florida’s example and disarm folk with no concern for due process or presumption of innocence.
For Your Own Good
Anyone who becomes the target of such an order must relinquish all firearms and ammunition to the police and abstain from acquiring new weapons until it either expires or is vacated. Of course, if the judge has any reason to believe that a recipient didn’t surrender all of their firearms – like if someone else tells a police officer that the person still has a gun – a warrant would be issued, and officers would search for and confiscate the weapon.
Rubio stipulates a number of relations to a subject who may petition the court for such an order, but none of them matter, as included on that list are police officers. Here’s how that works: An individual may or may not own guns, and may or may not be a threat to anyone. Someone else tells the cops that the subject has threatened them, themselves, or have exhibited dangerous behavior. The police petition the court, claiming the accused is a risk to themselves or others, beginning the process of “legally” stripping him or her of the right to bear arms.
Defining the Dangerous
So just how is one determined to be dangerous enough that fundamental human rights no longer matter? According to Rubio’s bill, once a petition is filed, judges will consider as relevant evidence:
“(aa)a recent threat or act of violence by the respondent against himself or herself or others;
(bb)a threat or act of violence by the respondent against himself or herself or others in the past 12 months;
(cc)evidence of a serious mental illness;
(dd)a previously issued extreme risk protection order or a violation of a previously issued extreme risk prevention order;
(ee)whether the respondent has been convicted of a crime of domestic violence or other violence;
(ff)whether the respondent has used weapons or threatened to use weapons against himself or herself or others;
(gg)the unlawful use of a firearm by the respondent;
(hh) the recurring use or threat of use of physical force against another person or stalking another person;
(ii)corroborated evidence of the abuse of controlled substances or alcohol by the respondent;
(jj)relevant information from family or household members concerning the respondent; and
(kk)witness testimony taken while the witness is under oath relating to the matter before the court;”
Someone could accuse you of threatening or attacking them. You could shoot a rat or snake in a city that doesn’t allow the discharge of firearms. Perhaps there’s a previous criminal history – or even just a prior risk prevention order. Is there any evidence that you might suffer from a mental illness – like anxiety or depression – or might you drink too much beer for the court’s comfort? Any one of these could be sufficient “evidence” for a judge to send the police after your guns.
But surely this system wouldn’t be abused, right? It’s only there to save lives. If you believe that, just look to Florida. While it would be tough to prove that any petitions were false or frivolous, consider the sheer volume: Just four months after the signing of the law in Florida, approximately 200 weapons and about 30,000 rounds of ammunition were seized after more than 450 orders were issued – with no evidence that any of the petitions had been denied.
Constitutional Red Flags
Let’s set aside the Second Amendment for a moment. These laws allow a court to issue an ex parte order – that is, one that allows an initial hearing without the subject being present or even notified – to revoke a person’s rights without first convicting that person of some crime. How this is justified within the Fifth and 14th Amendment guarantees against depriving anyone of their life, liberty, or property without due process – never mind any illusion of a presumption of innocence – is mind-boggling.
Now back to the good old Second Amendment:
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
You’ve seen it before, but it bears repeating, as apparently some folk aren’t quite so clear, despite the use of such absolute language free of any exceptions.
All opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Liberty Nation.
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