RED FLAG LAWS? Good bye rights and decency. Or maybe…

“Red Flag Laws” are the latest wave to crash over us here in America.  Simply explained, a person who levies a complaint against another can go before the court and a judge can then strip the accused of his or her rights and possessions. Most often, the accused is not even notified of the proceedings, much less given an opportunity to testify in their own defense.  Only after a confiscation order has been executed will he or she have an opportunity – perhaps up to two weeks later – to hire a lawyer and appear before a judge to protest the action. Put the issue of the Second Amendment and due process aside, and think long and hard about what I described above.  Can you think of any way that scenario could slide horribly sideways? 

While I’m sure it has never happened, do you think there are some ex-spouses or former live-ins with an axe to grind who just might conjure or embellish a story in order to inflict harm and/or exact revenge on their former significant other?  Yeah…  You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone with that precise life experience.  To be accused is one thing, but to have your rights removed without due process is to trash the founding principles of our nation. 

I want safety and security just as much, and many times more, than most of my opposition.  The problem is, I’m honest about it.  The other side?  Rarely.  They make up statistics and stick to them like glue.  With no small irony, we have them to thank for the policies which directly lead to all this trouble in our culture.  When a tragedy befalls America, you can count on a Rahm Emanuel-type to, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Maybe we shouldn’t kick God out of everything.  After all, ethics are a pretty big deal and when you no longer know where ethics come from and aren’t taught and use ethics, you’re in big trouble.  Even if you’re not religious, the understanding of right and wrong matter supremely.  I’m sorry, but you’re not going to pick up crucial ideologies from YouTube. 

Possibly, the systemic corrosion of the nuclear family through social attack, bad legislation, atrocious court rulings, and general intellectual promiscuity are really lousy things to do.  When we devalue family in every way possible, is it any surprise when we learn the family lives of those who sought to do great harm was akin to a train wreck?

Maybe, just maybe, the deconstruction of community has been ignorant and silly.  When class warfare, weaponization of the races, sexism as a form of power, perpetual arrangements for the purposes of self-indulgence, and homes lacking both parents are the norm, we’ve really screwed up.

You can pass any red flag law you want, but it’s a completely flawed premise and will never actually achieve its goal in any quantifiable sense.  Why?  When the dust settles in the court room, the rights have been removed, the weapons have been confiscated, and everyone takes a deep breath, do you know what is left in place to stop someone from doing others gratuitous harm?  …A piece of paper.

We’ve stigmatized mental illness in this country to the point where individuals are embarrassed or ashamed to seek any kind of help or treatment.  If someone truly is a danger to themselves or others to the point the state confiscates their possessions and removes their rights, no further damage could possibly result after a red flag order has been served, right?  No. 

Adding insult to injury, we’re also treading deeply into uncharted waters.  I have yet to find a judge that was also a trained, licensed, and well-practiced psychiatrist.  Should any of us have any comfort with a judge, whose proclivities deeply trend towards erring on the side of safety, having the keys to the mental health kingdom?  We’ve seen numbers varying in states from 65% to 95% for granting these orders.  We should all have a fundamental problem with a judge deciding what mental illness is for others, and a public that tosses that critical diagnosis around so freely. 

Will that document stop anyone from finding a million other ways to lash out?  No.  We’re creating a false sense of security for Americans in the same way those utterly stupid ‘Gun Free Zone’ stickers do on malls, libraries, and county courthouses.  The same people pushing for red flag laws may actually believe they’ve done something to rectify the cultural problem we’re faced with.  If pieces of paper and stickers on doorways did the trick, then we could easily obey the pieces of paper that outline the laws each of these people break in order to hurt others.  This idea a piece of paper will spare us harm is ludicrous, but moreover, it is extremely dangerous. 

After a red flag law is put in place, the public will let their guard down (assuming it was ever up) and go about their day under the false notion that all is well again.  They’ve expressed outrage, some Senator thought they could save us from ourselves and pick up some campaign fodder, and the executive office signed some garbage into law because they didn’t take the time to pause and use their brains, while instead listening to their precious policy advisors.  That’s often how law is made these days, by the way…  This process sends a message to the American people, “We listened and made you safer.”  But are we? 

I submit to you we are worse off, not better.  The piece of paper, the sticker on the door, or a politician running to get in front of the camera after a tragedy all offer the same thing – a LIE.  You’re not safer as a result of any of these things because we haven’t yet dealt with the core problem.  Faith, family, and community have been destroyed over the last 50 years in this country.  What can the political class be doing for you to truly help?  They can do two things and two only.  They can foster legislation and erect programs that allow Faith, family and community to flourish.  Next, they can get the heck out of the way and allow it to be shaped by the people who know best – the greatest generation would be where I’d start.  There are plenty of them left around and they know a thing or two about living and living rightly.  Maybe we should listen with their ears and look through their lenses. 

Get your family back in church.  And don’t always pick the easy churches because it interferes the least with your life.  Trust me, what you often want is rarely what you need.  Put yourself out of your comfort zone and donate your time to making meals for the poor of sustenance.  Get your kids in a church youth program or school program of some sort.  Talk with your children’s favorite teacher and ask where they think your child might best fit if you don’t already know.  When you see the neighbor’s woodpile knocked over, help him pick it up and restack it.  Volunteer to flip pancakes at the local firemen’s breakfast fundraiser.  Take a night once a week and turn off the electronics.  Play card or board games with one another.  Pull out a book or go to the library together once a week, if only for a short while. 

Each one of the things listed above you can do, and that’s barely scratching the surface.  The most important part of these vital exercises?  Involve a friend whom you know is hurting.  Engage a neighbor you know is having a rough patch.  Take your children along whenever you can.  This entire idea is based on growing in character together.  This is parenting.  This is exploring and shoring up your Faith.  This is community building.  This is love.  This is forgiveness.  No piece of paper or sticker will ever accomplish what these things do.  This is a generational alteration, not one born of the moment.  It takes time and perseverance to make a fundamental change.  And I promise you, just like the way America was built, this is the only way we will prosper moving forward.  We live in a time of instant gratification; thus, we’re dumb enough to think we can magically wave a legislative wand and cure the problems overnight.  That is fantasy, not reality. It took a long time to corrode our culture, so it’ll take more than a day to improve it.

More laws will not deter the lawless.  We must place a very personal touch on people so they don’t choose lawlessness.  Everyone reading this knows this to be a solid and profound truth.  The question now becomes, will you engage in character building, forgiveness, and love, or would you rather have the state attempt handling those three things on your behalf?

Michael Ware
Chairman – Iowa Firearms Coalition