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Constitutonal Rights Group Blasts White House 'Red Flag' Law Proposal

FPC: 'there is an inherent potential for abuse by third parties'

Constitutonal Rights Group Blasts White House 'Red Flag' Law Proposal

As the White House rolls out a new initiative seeking to expand red flag laws across the U.S., a constitutional rights organization is warning about the dangers to individual rights posed by the controversial laws.

On March 23, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the launch of a National Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) Resource Center, which will support the effective implementation of state red flag laws.

Red flag laws serve as a judicial mechanism that permits certain individuals, as defined by legislation, to petition courts for the temporary removal of firearms from persons deemed a threat to themselves or others.

These laws empower a variety of petitioners, including law enforcement officials, family members, legal representatives, educators, and health professionals, to request the confiscation of firearms from individuals perceived as dangerous.

The ERPO Resource Center, backed by funding from a Justice Department grant, aims to facilitate a diverse group of stakeholders, including state and local authorities, law enforcement, legal practitioners, judges, clinicians, victim service providers, and behavioral health professionals, in optimizing the usage of red flag laws, the White House said in the announcement.

However, the expansion of these laws has raised significant concerns among civil liberties advocates.

The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), a prominent organization dedicated to constitutional rights, has voiced strong opposition to the broadening of red flag laws.

According to a policy brief released by the FPC, the reliance of these laws on third-party enforcement introduces a risk of misuse, potentially leading to unwarranted deprivation of property and rights for individuals who have not been convicted of any crime.

“Because red flag laws are rooted in third-party enforcement, there is an inherent potential for abuse by third parties,” Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) said in the brief.

FPC warns that these laws deprive people who have not committed a crime to their property and ability to defend themselves without due process and may be weaponized to settle personal or political vendettas.

The FPC's critique extends to the potential for red flag laws to be exploited for personal or political retribution, highlighting risks of malicious petitions and the danger of swatting—an act where false reports are made to dispatch armed police to a person's home.

“Concerns include fraudulent, malicious, or reckless petitions. Against a backdrop of ‘swatting’ and combined with the lax standards of proof, red flag laws threaten ordinary Americans with potentially deadly encounters with police,” the group wrote. “The laws, as presently written, invite domestic terrorists to weaponize the court system to strip the rights of their enemies or political opponents.”

FPC added that the organization is “firmly against the adoption and implementation of red flag laws in all current forms. The laws deprive individuals of their right to due process of law before their rights are eliminated and property seized, a result that should offend anyone who values the Constitution and what it stands for.”

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