U.S. Representatives Debbie Dingell and Fred Upton of Michigan are pushing for bipartisan ‘red flag’ legislation in Congress. The laws, if passed, would allow state and local law enforcement officers to take guns from people considered “potentially dangerous” without a warrant. The legislation was introduced to the U.S. House with Representatives Susan Brooks of Indiana, and Ted Deutch of Florida.
Where did the idea for this law originate?
The bill is modelled after a statute from Indiana, that allows their local and state police to temporarily confiscate firearms from anyone suspected of being a danger to themselves or others. What makes you a danger to yourself of others? Under Indiana’s red flag laws, anyone who has threatened to hurt themselves or other people would be likely to temporarily lose their firearm.
It may sound like a huge violation of constitutional rights, but the law does carry protections for people concerned about limitations of their Second, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. In essence, Indiana’s red flag law tries to find that delicate balance between protecting people, and not violating the rights of people with possible mental and emotional impairments.
So how do red flag laws work?
There are currently 7 states with similar laws, and 18 states who are considering something similar. Each state is likely to have their own interpretation, so there’s no one-size-fits-all interpretation. However we can break down Indiana’s law for you, so you understand what inspired this new legislation, and what it looks like in action.
Indiana’s red flag law allows law enforcement to take a firearm from someone if they have threatened self harm, or to harm someone else. Because this is a warrantless seizure, though, the officer is required to submit a written statement to the court describing exactly why the person is considered dangerous. If a judge finds that probable cause exists, the law enforcement agency that confiscated the guns can retain custody of them. If not, the firearms are to be returned.
What would the new U.S. law look like if it passes?
Reps Dingell and Upton’s bill would allow state and local police and sheriff’s departments to seize firearms without a warrant, if they find probable cause that a person is a danger to themselves or others. Law enforcement would have to report the seizure to a local court within 24 hours. The Kronzek Firm’s attorney are alarmed about blurring the lines that separate our three branches of government – judicial, executive and legislative branches. This system of checks and balances has been a mainstay of our government since our country was founded. This proposed law would allow the executive branch of government, which includes the police, to perform a function of the judicial branch which includes determining probable cause. That scares us!
The bill would also allow the police to seek warrants from local courts to seize and then keep weapons from a person if they’re believed to be potentially dangerous. Officers could also seek warrants if the person has a history of not taking medications prescribed for mental illness, or has a pattern of violent or unstable conduct in the past.
How would this impact gun owners in Michigan?
Currently, Michigan law prevents people from purchasing and possessing guns if they don’t qualify for a license due to an involuntary commitment because of mental illness, or they have been determined to be legally incapacitated. If a federal law is passed requiring all states to comply, Michigan would have to change our current laws to allow warrantless seizure of firearms if people are determined to be a danger. Once again, it concerns our attorneys when laws trample our Constitutional rights.
As defense attorneys who’ve helped countless people restore their gun rights and fight criminal charges that could have cost them their gun licenses, we know what’s on the line here. We understand how strongly people feel about their Second Amendment rights, and we’re here to help you if you believe your rights have been violated. Call 866 766 5245 (866 7No Jail) today and speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney when you are ready to hire an attorney to fight for you.