Battleships & Red Flag Laws
Battleships and Red Flag Laws
Acknowledging that you have to fight in order to actually win a fight.
The Gun Law Flavor of the Day seems to be “Red Flag Law.” The Ignorance on Gun Law Flavor of the Day also seems to be “Red Flag Law.” People seem to think that they are a new trend, brought forth from the evil netherworld where anti-gunners go to brainstorm ways in which to control people. Various “Pro-gun” patriot websites are pushing that the Red Flag Laws are simply a way for someone to merely accuse a gun owner of making a threat and thus the Police are required to take their guns away.
Everywhere I see people declaring that Red Flag Laws allow anyone to just accuse any gun owner of being a threat and then BAM! The cops are busting in your door at night, conducting a SWAT raid.
However, the truth is that you are being lied to. Of the 17 states that have enacted “Red Flag Laws,” all of them require a family member, mental health worker (not a random acquaintance) to petition a Judge (not the police) with evidence as to why a person’s rights should be suspended.
One case in point that has been highlighted by the NRA is of Stephen Nichols of Tisbury, Massachusetts. Mr Nichols was an 84yr old Korean War Vet, retired Law Enforcement Officer who was a school crossing guard. He, allegedly, was overheard by a waitress who claimed he stated that someone could “shoot up the school.” Two days later, she complained to the local Police. The Chief had him fired immediately from the school, took his guns and his license to carry and said he was going to be charged with a felony. This sounds like the exact scenario that we were told would happen under these new “Red Flag Laws.” Only it didn’t go down like that. Not at all.
The truth is that the Massachusetts Law only allows a Family or household member (as in an immediate family member or roommate) or the Chief of Police (who issues licenses to own and carry firearms). This didn’t happen in Stephen Nichols’ case. Further, the family member or Chief files a petition to the court where a Judge will decide if it merits action. This, also, did not happen in Stephen Nichols’ case. According to the Massachusetts Red Flag Law, anyone who tries to falsify their petition is guilty of perjury.
What happened with Stephen Nichols’ was that he was complaining to a co-worker at a restaurant that the local School Resources Officer was leaving his post to get coffee at a local store, rather than the teacher’s lounge. Mr. Nichols was stating that someone could “shoot the school up” because the Officer was not at his place of duty. The waitress heard this whole conversation. She did not go to the Police Chief, she mentioned it to the Vice Principal at the PTA meeting the next day.
Well, the Vice Principal was also the wife of the School Resources Officer and didn’t want to have her husband fired. So, she went to the Police Chief to discuss matters. The Police Chief decided to strong arm the old man under false pretenses.
The reality is that under the Massachusetts Red Flag law, anyone who files a false claim is guilty of perjury. Also, the ERPO (Extreme Risk protection Order) is only good for 10 days, upon which it may be extended to a year but only if the Court has a hearing with the person having 7 days of notice within those 10 days. During the hearing, the petitioner must establish by a preponderance of evidence that the person is a legitimate threat.
But what about other states? Look at Maryland, which officers killed a man while serving their version of an ERPO. Critics of the Red Flag law say that the guy was murdered by police.
As in the Massachusetts situation, the Maryland judgement from the YouTube Legal Experts is that the guy was murdered. That is fraught with errors. First, the guy was set on never having anyone take his firearms from him because he feared the Government, which is why the family couldn’t disarm him themselves. As his mental state deteriorated, he became more of a risk to himself and the family when they visited him. The family had petitioned the court because he lived alone and his mental state was deteriorating. A Judge determined, based on the evidence the family gave him, that the man was a danger to either himself or the community.
So, how did this guy die? Was he murdered? Gary J Willis was served an ERPO in November, 2018. When the police knocked, he answered the door while holding a handgun. The family had forewarned, in their petition, that he often greeted anyone at the door with a firearm in hand.
In this case, the Officers knew, so they talked to him instead of shooting him. He set the gun down next to the door. The Officers explained that they were there at the request of his family and had to deliver the ERPO. When they got to the point of stating they had to collect his firearms, he became irate and grabbed the gun. So, what does a Police Officer do when a mentally deficient man suddenly gets angry and grabs a gun? He shoots him, right? Nope. Officer #1 tried to disarm My Willis. However, Mr Willis fired the pistol. Now the situation is very deadly, so Officer #2 shoot and killed Mr. Willis. Mr. Willis was not killed for not complying with an ERPO. He was not killed due to the Red Flag Law. He was not murdered. Mr. Willis was a lethal threat to the Police Officers and the Officers had not only a right but a duty to act in the defense of themselves and the community.
As you can see, the public perception of both of these situations are gravely false. And yet, people freely believe them.
Here is a situation that happened much closer to home that should highlight why there is a need for a Red Flag-type law in Michigan. I am friends with a family where the Father was diagnosed as an adult with both bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. He was a gun rights advocate and also believed that the UN was going to come and take over to get every one’s firearms.
As he got older, his mental condition deteriorated. By the time he was really getting dangerous, the only person that had regular contact with him was his wife, who lived with him. The two sons moved out, long ago. But the family really was getting worried. The Father refused to give up his firearms and if anyone would even mention his mental state or suggest his guns be stored anywhere, they were no longer allowed anywhere near the house. The family tried contacting the police to help, but their hands were tied until he became a threat.
In this instance, the family and the community had a ticking time bomb on their hands and they couldn’t do anything about it. Then, one day, he turned his anger on the last person in his life who was loyal and never gave up on him: his wife. He pinned her head to the wall and pointed a loaded pistol at her face and screamed that he would kill her. Thankfully, she escaped. She left him and filed a report with the Police, who then finally had the legal ability to come and take his guns away from him. The mother could have easily died at the hands of a crazy man and there was nothing the police or the family could do because we do not have a Red Flag Law.
Red Flag laws have actually been around for over 20 years in some states. Each State that has them, or is considering them, has a slightly different law on how they do things. One thing is certain is that, once enacted, Due Process has always been a central, key point in the laws that have passed. Of the 17 States that have them, every single one of them requires that a family or mental health official present evidence to a Judge and the Judge determines based on that evidence. That is due process. Due Process does not mean that the person has to be present for the ERPO to come into play, he only has to be present for criminal charges to be filed (arraignment, I think it is called). And, honestly, where is the logic in given a crazy guy a voice in whether or not he should have guns after people have evidence that he is a threat?
Is there a danger that the government could abuse these laws? There is always a danger of that happening, no matter what the law is. That is a moot question. We should be asking if there is a need for a law, rather than just judging a law based on someone’s opinion of a law who has never read it.
There are already laws on the books in Michigan and in every state that is supposed to prevent firearms from getting into the sole possession of a mentally ill person. The problem is when a person goes from normal to mentally ill, we need the ability to humanely and respectfully disarm the person until they can recover.
So, what does this have to do with Battleships? I’m glad you asked. Battleships are great at pounding fortified locations on islands. These islands have airbases on which to raid and bomb friendly territory and shipping lanes, maintain their navies and even launch invasions.
But as the Marines and Army found out, no matter how many rounds those Battleships lob onto the islands, the only way to dislodge the enemy and take control of those airfields and harbors is to land troops and take them out, physically. It’s ugly, hand to hand fighting in close quarters.
The Battleship’s barrage can also cause damage to the beaches slowing the Marine’s advance, or create more carnage and debris for the enemy to hide in.
In the Red Flag debate, it’s easy for people to sit around and denounce the laws offhand without doing any actual research. That’s them, the big guns of the Battleships, the pride of the fleet just launching round after round at the enemy but in reality they ain’t doing jack squat. In many cases, they are causing the enemy to become further entrenched.
We need Marines to hit the beach, engage the enemy in the close quarters of verbal discussion and understanding of each other’s side so we can listen and come up with laws that protect the people while ensuring our rights are protected. It’s a long, drawn out and very tiring process that causes heavy casualties on both sides. But it wins the battles and the wars.
There is a reason why Battleships are no longer used in warfare; they are obsolete. So why are we still trying to use the Battleship in our debating? It’s time to become a Marine or a Soldier to engage with the enemy and win by changing our tactics to ensure victory.
So, please stop saying the tired old lies of the Battleship thinking you can use a one-liner to defeat the enemy’s logic. They are smarter than that. Treat them with respect and learn from them. Listen and learn from them and if you win the right way, you will be friends with them after the battle as the US is with Japan after we discovered Battleships, as cool as they are, don’t work.
Red Flag Laws, if responsibly written, are a good thing. If you still don’t think so, please leave your comments below and we can have a civil discussion on the matter.