David Cole at Black Man with a Gun has a short article up on mental health and red flag laws titled That’s Crazy Talk.
I was recently listening to a talk given by my friend Cheryl Todd of Gun Freedom Radio on the topic of “red flag laws,” and she said something that caught my ear. She was explaining the difficulty that trained psychology and psychiatry professionals have in predicting violent behavior, and said “we suck at it.”
She’s absolutely right. It does not take much research to discover that it is in fact extremely difficult to predict violent behavior in even those clinically diagnosed…by professionals…as mentally ill. It is also a widely recognized fact that mental illness does not automatically mean someone is dangerous.
So why would we get in such a big hurry to take guns from people suspected of being dangerous, as assessed by the untrained non-professional…when the professionals admit that they “suck at it,” and that the vast majority of legitimately mentally ill people are not dangerous?
And why, if the mental health of the person is in question, do “red flag laws” confiscate the gun(s) but not the person? If the person is suspected of being dangerous, why should they not be immediately confined for assessment by mental health professionals? If their mental health were really that important to us, wouldn’t we want to see that they receive immediate care? And if the safety of those around them were truly the priority, how effective is it to just confiscate the guns we know about, while leaving the supposed dangerous person free to a gun we missed, obtain a replacement gun, or substitute another weapon to commit violence? After all, you could even leave the guns right where they are if you simply take the dangerous person away from them and into treatment.
Seems like there’s an awful lot of holes in that red flag.
It is because it actually has nothing to do with mental health or violence prevention, and everything to do with removing as many guns as possible from the hands of free, law-abiding citizens. There are already plenty of laws on the books to prohibit criminals, addicts, and those who have been legally designated as mentally ill from possessing guns. But “red flag laws” are nothing more than an attempt to throw the largest possible net over as many gun owners as possible, without the due process guaranteed by the Constitution.
And that’s crazy talk.