Red Flag Laws are all the rage these days, almost trendy. It seems that’s what the anti-gun community cares about when creating laws – being trendy – even though many of these trendy laws make people less safe. And that’s exactly what Red Flag Laws do.
As a woman who chose to leave an unhealthy marriage only to be harassed and stalked by my ex-husband, and then when he remarried, spent nearly two years in a bitter custody battle as him and his new wife tried to move my daughter across the country, I have unfortunately witnessed how easy it is to manipulate this system.
I have faced temporary restraining orders based on fabricated accusations, police at my door for false reports, and CPS visits multiple times. Through each encounter, I held my head high, defended myself with poise, and had faith the truth would be on my side. In my case it was; each time I was victorious. But it did not come without anxiety and fear. Since that time, my ex-husband and his new wife have moved away, and I sleep much more soundly at night – with my daughter in the room across the hall.
I no longer have to take a different route home each time I’d meet him to drop off or pick up my daughter because I knew he was following me. Or be informed by a watchful neighbor that he has been sitting at the end of my street for two hours in sub-zero weather. I no longer have to wonder if the knock on my door on Saturday morning is the sheriff’s office following up on more false accusations, or the neighbor kid wanting to play with my child. I no longer have to fear what may be next. I was fortunate that I was still there to worry about those things. Others were not.
Due to my experiences, when I saw a Red Flag Bill hit my state legislature last spring, I was shocked. Certainly these politicians know how easy this is to manipulate – and of course, their “job” is to protect people like me. But when I researched it further, my shock turned to anger. Not only was this proposed law as easy to get as the temporary protection order my ex-husband had gotten against me at one time, it was easier. It allows reports by phone, and hearings by phone. No one even has to show their face.
Red Flag Bills put the most vulnerable in our society at risk. The same citizens these politicians claim to care about, they are putting at risk. Domestic violence affects women and men of all demographics, and although 40% of the victims are men (if not more), when it comes to fatalities in domestic and familial incidents, a shocking 97% of the victims are women.
Now the anti-gun, pro-women, newly elected government has made promises to come to our rescue – yet all they are doing is putting us in harms way by opening a door to have OUR means of self protection removed – legally.
Although I use my own experience as a woman as an example, this applies to anyone, regardless of gender or other demographics. If your life is in harms way, Red Flag Laws can be used to disarm you. And if you manage to beat a system that is stacked against you and get your firearms back, there are no repercussions to the person who falsely reported you. They walk away unscathed, having wasted time and resources that could have been used to follow up on legitimate threats and crime.
If you’re not familiar with Red Flag Laws, you’re not paying enough attention (seriously, connect with us on social media so you always know what’s up). Red Flag Laws are already in place in some states, and are undoubtedly coming to yours. Here’s how a Red Flag Law works:
• A petitioner (either a current or former intimate partner, or a family member, with no proof required) makes a report via telephone or in person that you have firearms, have bought firearms, or have bought ammunition – and that they have heard you make a threat that you may harm another or yourself.
• A court hearing is scheduled within 24 hours either over the phone or in person with the petitioner to determine if an Emergency Risk Protection Order (aka Red Flag Order) should be issued. The one most important person notably missing from this hearing is YOU. You are not even so much as informed that this hearing is taking place. During this hearing the judge will hear a “preponderance of evidence” from the petitioner, and only the petitioner, with the goal to convince the fact finder that there is a greater than 50% chance that the claim is true.
• An Emergency Risk Protection Order (ERPO) is issued. The sheriff’s department will visit your home and demand you turn over your firearms, and if you refuse to comply, they will be confiscated by force (placing everyone present in a dangerous situation). YOU will be left alone, without what may be your most important means of self defense – your firearm – because someone just had it confiscated. It doesn’t matter if you bought that firearm to protect yourself from a stalker, an abuser, or simply to walk home from work late at night. It also doesn’t matter if the person who requested your firearms be confiscated is that same abuser or stalker.
• Then, and only then, will you be given instructions as to how to defend yourself in court and get your firearms back.