The recent mass shootings in El Paso, TX, and Dayton, Ohio this past weekend have once again turned the political spotlight on the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Left always has its attacks primed for these eventualities, and as usual, their arguments are forceful demonstrations of folly.
Of course, that does not discourage the Left from screechings at conservatives, directly blaming President Trump, to calling for completely unconstitutional measures that would demonstrably violate the 2nd Amendment. None of those actions are unexpected from the Leftist core believers as well as their political shills.
This journal has warned before of the danger of trying to infringe on the 2nd Amendment rights of Americans. In this instance, the danger may be taking a surprising twist.
What is surprising, and alarming, is the reaction of some conservative law-makers and frankly, some statements from President Trump himself. He gave a critical speech about the shootings and gave some proposals which are ostensibly tailored to help reduce or prevent such horrific happenings in the future.
However, before I delve into the President’s words, I need to confront the absolute false narrative of the Left that Trump is a racist white supremacist and responsible for the shootings. Those on the Left, at whatever level of government or media they exist, are simply lying to advance their evil agenda.
Trump’s speech more clearly than ever should have satisfied the most ardent critics that he is not a racist or a white supremacist. He could not have more forcefully denounced both claims on a comprehensive level, but that doesn’t stop the malicious Left from lying about him and trying to silence him.
Not only has President Trump never said the racist things the Left keeps lying about, but his actions also demonstrate that he is not racist in any way. He spoke with sincerity, grace, and firmness in his response to the shootings.
His speech contained many statements that were both correct and consoling to the victims of these shootings. However, some of the proposed “solutions” are cause for real concern.
A Warning About The Mental Health Warning
President Trump called for legal action which would deny the possession of firearms to people who are determined to be ‘mentally ill,’ in some manner. This certainly sounds like a reasonable proposition, however, as with many such measures, it is far more complicated and fraught with danger than most realize.
The first problem is akin to almost any type of government ‘solution’ proposed to almost any problem in society, the problem of abuse. It is not stretching the truth to say that for most laws if someone wants to abuse it in their favor, they can find a way to get what they want.
There are already forms of such laws denying firearms to those deemed mentally ill in certain places around America. One example is Florida’s “Baker Act” law, which provides for temporary commitment to a mental institution up to 72 hours with a minimum of due process.
The Baker Act is an existing law that provides for temporary institutionalization of individuals who meet certain criteria. It can only be used by specific authorized persons, including judges, mental health professionals, law enforcement personnel, and doctors. More importantly, the law is limited by the fact that those officials must have sound evidence suggesting that the individual might meet the Act’s definition for mental illness. In addition, he must pose a risk of harm to himself or others – or demonstrate self-neglect.
With this existing statute, there are at least some reasonable legal safeguards determining who can be subject to being held in custody. For instance,
people cannot be involuntarily institutionalized simply because they’re acting strangely, refuse to seek psychiatric examinations, or have occasional mood swings or outbursts.
The questions looming over this new proposal is ‘On what basis, and by whom, is someone to be declared too mentally ill to keep freedom and their 2nd Amendment rights?’ Moreover, if the existing measures are not adequate now, how far is the government willing to go to in this area?
Perhaps more frightening and direct measures will be deemed necessary. Which brings us to another, and more concerning subject, the idea of so-called ‘Red Flag’ laws.
The Red Flags About ‘Red Flag’ Laws
‘Red Flag’ gun laws function as gun confiscation orders. In his speech, President Trump called them “extreme risk protection orders.”
They are designed to deny access to, or possession, of firearms to those deemed at extreme risk to commit violence with those firearms. They could be deemed as an ‘at extreme risk’ individual according to certain ‘red flags’ which those close to the person had determined might be dangerous.
John Lott, the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and an expert on ‘Red Flag’ laws commented on the nature of these laws during an interview on “The Buck Sexton Show,” from August 5, 2019.
You’re trying to predict whether somebody’s going to go and commit a crime. …It’s kind of like the old Tom Cruise movie “Minority Report,” without the psychics.
This moves beyond the mental illness warning criteria to include things such as criminal history when evaluating whether or not someone should have a firearm. However, as Mr. Lott also points out, we already have access to criminal records and felonies as well as some misdemeanors already disqualify a person from owning a gun, so this is superfluous.
The potential for abuse lies in the additional legal measures these laws propose in order to confiscate someone’s guns. Some have suggested that simple arrests, even without a conviction, should be considered as possible ‘red flags’ to trigger the seizure of firearms.
The abuse comes into play easily when, for example, a disgruntled spouse or employee is the target. They can be essentially flagged as a threat to commit violence on the say-so of someone who doesn’t like them and is looking for an excuse to punish the offending party.
Some might ask, ‘Won’t these individuals be assessed by mental health professionals?’ Even if that is true, the record of mental health professionals in predicting future criminal behavior is abysmal. As author Rob Morse notes,
Psychiatrists who have access to complete medical records often have to assess if a patient will be violent. They make that assessment for the safety of the patient and for the safety of hospital staff. These doctors make the correct prediction 60% of the time when they are predicting behavior for the next 24 hours. That means they are slightly better than flipping a coin while they are looking a day into the future. Psychiatrists have no idea if the patient will be violent in the next week, the next month, or the next year. These highly educated and dedicated specialists can’t predict the future. That record will get worse as red-flag laws let non-professionals disarm near strangers with a phone call.
Moreover, this could easily result in making situations worse rather than better. Morse goes on to make this salient point.
Concealed carry holders are several times less likely than the police to shoot innocent people. Who is at risk when the police knock in the dark of night to confiscate legally owned firearms?
The danger of this becoming law is rapidly coming upon us, as Senator Lindsey Graham is already proposing ‘red-flag’ legislation. No details of his plan are available at present, except that he makes a point of mentioning that Trump seemed ‘supportive’ of it.
The Hate Crime ‘Death Penalty’ Threat
This is perhaps the most disturbing part of President Trump’s address. In a brief but powerful sentence, he called for the death penalty for both mass shooters those who commit “hate crimes.”
Admittedly, there is little time in such a short speech to elaborate on the meaning of this declaration. No real details about the proposal were presented there.
The danger lies within the very nature of the ‘hate crime’ designation. It is far too ambiguous a label to use for this extremely important issue.
The current legal definition of a hate crime according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation is,
…a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”
The FBI is quick to add that hate itself is not a crime, and thus they are committed to also protecting a person’s right to free speech. To be blunt, the FBI has not inspired a lot of trust among regular Americans since the exposure of their spying operations against a sitting president and the hate their operatives have displayed against Trump and his supporters.
So please forgive me if the assurances of the FBI do not really reassure me at this point. Moreover, the expansion of hate crime accusations and arrests in many nations are alarming, to say the least.
In fact, in 2013 the Canadian Supreme Court actually declared that certain types of religious speech qualify as hate crimes. In this case, it involved biblical speech against teaching homosexuality in public schools.
Should such offenses as these be punishable by death? Or would that only apply to certain groups in society, perhaps of the Christian variety?
Lest one think that this could not happen in America, consider this. In 2012, just seven years ago, no one was even considering banning people from social media for ‘misgendering’ a transgender man who claimed he was a woman.
Real Problems and Solutions Are Ignored
The true tragedy of this is that there are real problems with the amount of gun violence overall, and some real solutions to them which are being completely ignored while potshots are being taken at the 2nd Amendment, pun intended.
For example, in just the cases of mass shootings in the United States, one factor is more common in all of them since Colombine in 1999. The environment of the home and family.
If there’s a thread, it’s young men whose biological father was missing in their lives. After the Parkland school massacre in Florida, the Heritage Foundation cited a study showing that among the 25 most-cited school shooters since Columbine, 75 percent were reared in broken homes. Most, according to psychologist Peter Langman, an expert on school shooters, came from homes that also experienced infidelity, substance abuse, criminal behavior, domestic violence and child abuse.
It’s not racism, not ‘white supremacy,’ not even mental health, video games, and certainly not those who support the 2nd Amendment the most, law-abiding gun owners! It’s the absence of a father in the home.
Isn’t it strange how this particular metric is also a great predictor of criminal activity as well as mentally disturbed behavior? For instance, witness these statistics,
85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)
80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average. (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
Perhaps our political leaders should focus more on that very real problem if they aim to slow gun violence and violence itself in society. In fact, a large number of problems could be ameliorated if more families remained intact, but that is fodder for another time.
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:25 [ESV]
Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
Featured and Top image courtesy of Maryland GovPics Flickr page -Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Barrett Cook’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
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Inset Image 3 courtesy of Paul Schreiber’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
All other sources linked or cited in the text
Originally published in TIL Journal