Letter: A red flag on the Red Flag law

Published 7:27 am Tuesday, April 23, 2019

In the April 12th edition of the Austin Daily Herald, Roger Boughton submitted a letter of support for Jeanne Poppe’s support of the legislation referred to as “The Red Flag law.” I strongly disagree with both Jeanne and Roger in their positions.

The “Red Flag Law” allows someone to report any individual to law enforcement who can then obtain a warrant that permits them to confiscate all the firearms of that individual and, in effect, strips the individual of their constitutional rights with no opportunity to respond or face their accuser until after the fact. In most court proceedings, this type of evidence would be considered circumstantial and not admissible. The possibility of abuse of this law is very concerning to me.

Personal liberty issues are in danger with a law as broad as this one. The way this law reads is that a person’s liberty could be restricted without the person having the ability to defend themselves. This ability is protected in the Fifth Amendment, being deprived of liberty or property without due process of law. Additionally, the Fourth Amendment provides for freedom from unreasonable search and seizure and the Second Amendment allows possession of firearms, which could be infringed upon with this misapplication of this law. This law has been implemented in 13 states to date.

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In my opinion, I feel this law is redundant and unnecessary. There are processes in the court system today to facilitate actions for the protection of individuals, if they are followed. The Parkland shooting could have been prevented as law enforcement agencies had been notified about serious issues with the shooter. In the Columbine shooting, mental health issues had been recognized by family members. In some cases, the instigator is known to have mental health or anger issues by family or law enforcement before any crime is committed.

I believe there are people that need to be protected from themselves and there are instances when society needs protection from individuals who may be considered dangerous. Mental health care is almost nonexistent today. There are few proper facilities available to help people with serious mental health issues.

It seems when an event happens that strikes to the heart of all people, politicians attempt to fix the problem with a new law. We have too many laws now and often patchwork laws keep being added which make the system more cumbersome. I know Roger and Jeanne are caring people and feel they are trying their best to help, but this is one case I must disagree with them. In my years of experience in the computer field, I was taught to look for the cause, not the symptom, and many of the new laws simply address the symptom and not the cause.

Let’s be cautious when attempting to address a serious issue such as this.

Charles Mills

Austin, Minnnesota