Obviously, there is considerable pressure for lawmakers to embrace gun control, particularly what some are calling “red flag laws.” The legislation essentially gives authority to the police or law enforcement to quickly seize a weapon from somebody that may be considered a threat. Then the accused would receive their day in court to defend themselves, but after the seizure of the weapon(s) has already occurred.
Red flag laws are another name for gun-violence restraining orders, a type of legislation that continues to surge in popularity in many liberal states. Some conservatives too, perhaps for well-intended purposes or possibly to just appear like they are doing something, embrace them as well. Last year David French at National Review wrote an entire piece favorable to gun-violence restraining orders.
For many, the laws are seen as a possible solution in deterring mass shootings. The pressure can be intense on conservative or constitutionally minded lawmakers, as activists and many media figures aggressively pivot towards anti-gun rhetoric following any shooting that makes headlines. In the General Assembly, the legislation has routinely been introduced to implement gun-violence restraining orders by some Democrats. Gov. Roy Cooper is a supporter of the bill.
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is balking at the proposal. Below is his August 9 statement in full:
While solutions to address the problem of mass murders in our country are way past due, I have yet to see a ‘red flag’ bill that adequately protects the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans. Instead, what we get are overly broad, undefined plans that could lead to government gun confiscation.
We’d be better served as a nation by addressing the root causes that are driving people to violence — the breakdown of the family, mental illness, social isolation and the refusal to recognize the dignity of human life. This is hard, much harder than scoring political points. But this kind of approach will be the most effective in solving a defining issue of our generation.
Detractors of “red flag” laws say it violates due-process and an individual could potentially have firearms seized without their knowledge. One of the major problems is that some states continue to expand upon their ability to seize or confiscate weapons once they get an initial bill passed. Another problem, some of the bills out there have so many loopholes that allow for neighbors, ex-spouses, girlfriends, or even more distant relatives to blow the whistle, making gun seizure relatively easy. You can read more about my own concerns with gun-violence restraining orders in a much more extensive piece on gun-control titled “Toxic Agenda: The push for California style gun-control in North Carolina.”
Forest’s second part of his statement is the much more interesting and important one in my mind. While some in media and almost every activist will ignore it, or poke fun at it, Forest hits on the true causes of violence and rage we are currently seeing today. It’s not terribly surprising that many of these mass shooters do not seem to have father’s or even male role models to help guide them or even face the failure or rejection experienced in life. This is especially toxic when combined with the amount of social isolation we are seeing today, where many pseudo relationships or online connections only seem to exacerbate the hollowing out of community.
Unless we address the larger issues Forest brings up, it’s certain that gun laws or gun-confiscation measures are going to do little to prevent this kind of violence. Following state or federal gun laws is not a focal point for somebody who would use a weapon to destroy the lives of the innocent.
Important too is our Constitution. When it comes to inherent rights, nothing in America is as heavily regulated as firearms. A healthy society is one where people act positively in a way that no government can ultimately enforce, except maybe by brute tyranny and oppression. There are nearly 100 million legal gun-owners in America and the vast vast majority exercise their right safely on a daily basis. For that to continue unobstructed is a healthy test for our capacity for self-government. It’s an essential signal that the citizenry still believes they are masters and not servants of the government.