Extreme Risk Protection Orders (aka ERPOs or red flag laws) have grown in popularity with gun-control extremists in both parties despite being a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure. But now, thanks to a recent 9-0 Supreme Court ruling addressing “warrantless gun confiscation,” proponents of red flag laws may have been dealt a serious blow to their agenda.
The Supreme Court ruled last week in Caniglia v Strom that warrantless gun confiscation from Americans’ homes is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment, voting unanimously on the side of a Rhode Island man whose firearms were taken by law enforcement without a warrant after his wife expressed concerns that he might hurt himself.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the unanimous opinion for the Supreme Court, stating that law enforcement can execute “many civic tasks in modern society,” but there is “not an open-ended license to perform them anywhere.”
“The very core of the Fourth Amendment [is the] right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable search and seizure.”
Here’s a little background on the case (via AmericanMilitaryNews.com):
Mr. Caniglia and his wife were arguing when he put an unloaded gun on their table and said, “shoot me now and get it over with.” Following the argument, Caniglia’s wife called the non-emergency police line, leading to a visit from law enforcement. The police convinced Mr. Caniglia to go to the hospital for psychological evaluation, despite disagreeing that his behavior was “abnormal” or “agitated.”
While Mr. Caniglia was on his way to the hospital, his wife told the police that he had two pistols in the home, at which point the officers searched the home without a warrant; however, Mrs. Caniglia couldn’t provide legal consent because the police lied, telling her that Mr. Caniglia had consented to the seizure of his firearms.
The officers subsequently located and confiscated the two handguns, prompting Mr. Caniglia to sue the police for allegedly violating his 4th Amendment rights.
Though not directly related to red flag laws, the Supreme Court ruling in Caniglia v Strom could very well lead to their end. In his concurring opinion, Justice Samuel Alito specifically addressed this likelihood:
“This case also implicates another body of law that petitioner glossed over: the so-called “red flag” laws that some States are now enacting. These laws enable the police to seize guns pursuant to a court order to prevent their use for suicide or the infliction of harm on innocent persons.
“Provisions of red flag laws may be challenged under the Fourth Amendment, and those cases may come before us. Our decision today does not address those issues.”
Red flag laws began picking up steam following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, FL in 2018, mostly with help from Trump’s “conservative” Republican Party. These laws allow citizens or law enforcement to anonymously petition a judge for an order giving police the authority to seize all firearms from people deemed a threat to themselves or to others … by force if necessary. No warrant. No arrest. No charges.
Red flag laws were quite popular with Donald “take the guns first, go through due process second” Trump, along with Trumpists like Sens. Linsey Graham and Marco Rubio. Graham was the co-sponsor of a federal red flag law (Federal Extreme Risk Protection Act) with Richard Blumenthal in 2018, and he supported legislation proposed by Rubio in 2019 that would use tax money to bribe states to pass ERPO laws.
Rubio was also behind a bill that would put red flag laws on steroids when he teamed up with Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) in 2019 to co-sponsor the Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety Act of 2019 (TAPS Act). The TAPS Act would provide incentives for local law enforcement to give EVERYONE a personal threat assessment (adults and children) and single out those they deem as future threats. That information would then be used as a “pre-crime” tool used to “stop dangerous individuals before they can commit an act of violence.”
There was also a House version of the TAPS Act (H.R. 838) co-sponsored by Reps. Brian Babin (R-TX) and Val Demings (D-FL). The House bill recognized “mass casualty attacks” as a “threat to public safety” that require “a proactive solution … in order to prevent future tragedies.”
The history of Trumpist Republican’s caving to the gun control agenda is bad enough on its own, but it’s made worse when you add it to Joe Biden’s anti-Second Amendment executive orders made last month — including an order to expand red flag laws nationally.
Biden directed the Justice Department to create a “red flag” legislation template for states to give law enforcement carte blanche to seize firearms and keep them out of the hands of potentially dangerous individuals. In addition to the template, Biden included a demand for the creation of a national version of the gun-grabbing legislation along with incentives (bribe money) for paying states that pass red flag laws of their own.
Before becoming vice president, Kamala Harris went on the record supporting a federal version of red flag laws to be used in her fight against “domestic terrorists and hate crime perpetrators.” In response to recent incidents of gun violence, Joe Biden has adopted her “domestic terrorism” mantra.
According to data obtained by anti-Second Amendment zealot Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, 19 states and the District of Columbia have enacted various forms of red flag laws: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
Hopefully, last week’s recent Supreme Court ruling means we’ll see the end of red flag laws in the very near future.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.