A litany of state laws aimed to alter the Second Amendment have descended trespassing other amendments as well, permitting “police-led searches” of our social media, thus effectively “abridging the freedom of speech or of the press” constitutionally protected in the First Amendment. Disagreeable speech is labeled “hate speech.”
Presently at least 179 counties in the country and three states, Alaska, Idaho and Kansas, have declared Second Amendment sanctuary status as a result. The movement for sanctuary status includes any federal or state law that threatens the Second Amendment as written by the Founding Fathers. In New Mexico that includes requirements for firearm storage and background checks for private firearm sales. In New York, it includes banning bump stock devices. In Washington State, it is I-1639, which “classifies semi-automatic rifles commonly owned for recreation and self-defense as assault weapons and prohibits young adults under the age of 21 from purchasing them.” These violate principally the Second Amendment “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
But the issue that has lit the sanctuary revolution most recently is “red flag” laws as they violate other amendments as well. These potentially allow thousands of innocent citizens to be punished only upon the fear that a crime might be committed. Secret lists of innocent people are created by family, acquaintances, and potentially disgruntled ex-lovers or spouses. Any one that can approach a judge with the claim that someone is a danger to himself and/or others, the sheriff is sent to disarm and confiscate his weapons. Those identified are punished without having committed a crime. All this without a shred of evidence of unlawful behavior.
As reported, state “red flag” laws are driving sheriffs and county commissioners to seek Second Amendment sanctuary county status to defend their people from them and to uphold the Constitution they have sworn by oath to protect. In no state is that more evident presently than in Colorado where 60% of the counties have declared sanctuary status which basically means “the law is null and void in this county.” Officers either have to refuse to follow orders or defend the Constitution. When county commissioners declare sanctuary status, sheriffs do not have to stand alone.
Standing alone is still constitutional as sheriffs are the only elected law enforcement agents in the United States and each must swear an oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution to hold that trusted office. Constitutionally they can only be removed by the people in their districts as they specifically represent only them – not public opinion outside their district, the state or the federal government. They understand that a law from either Congress or state legislatures cannot undo an amendment to the Constitution – only another amendment and that requires the support of three-fourths of the states, none of which has happened for any “red flag” law in any state. As such they should be null and void at passage.
“Red flag” laws, distinguished from other anti-gun laws, are based entirely upon the assumption that someone may commit a crime, rather than has committed a crime. Their speech or behavior is viewed a red flag. Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse-tung and Castro, all socialists, would have loved such laws. They could have labeled and disarmed their opposition before they did anything.
These also fly in the face of Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Amendment. According to the Fourth Amendment, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”
Today computers and electronic devices are the “papers” and “effects” the weapons of self preservation. It is “unreasonable” to confiscate them on the assumption that they may be used inappropriately. People might also wish to remove their automobiles, knives, hammers or medicines they might use to harm themselves or others. Heretofore “probable cause” was based upon evidence, not opinion. Again, there exists no crime.
According to the Fifth Amendment, “No person shall be…deprived of…property, without due process of law.”
Due process is denied thousands under “red flag” laws. None were charged with a crime, arrested or convicted before gun confiscation.
According to the Sixth Amendment, none were “informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence.”
Finally, according to the Seventh Amendment, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.”
“Red flag” laws completely deny “due process.”
Thus “red flag” laws violate six constitutional amendments – half of the Bill of Rights. No wonder sheriffs and counties are bailing. How serious is this threat to the Constitution as written? Presently 15 states have them in place and 13 more are processing them, potentially 28 – more than half of the union. In accepting states, the Bill of Rights has been severely damaged.
Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and to applying that knowledge to current events. He taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, visit http://www.LibertyUnderFire.org.