Conservative groups are preparing to oppose any efforts by Democrats and Republicans to enact new gun control measures in the wake of a pair of mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, even as GOP lawmakers and President Donald Trump signal a willingness to entertain proposals.
Earlier this week, as blame for the shootings swirled around Washington, D.C., and the cable news networks, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced he had “some support” from the president for a bipartisan bill he’s crafting with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) that would see the enactment of a federal “red flag” law, which would empower local law enforcement, on order of a court, to confiscate guns from someone deemed mentally unstable and a threat.
For his part, the president said this week he supports stronger background checks and reform of mental health laws, among other steps aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people.
But conservative activist groups are hoping that the president will reject any attempts to pass red flag laws and other proposals that may include raising the age limit for all firearms purchases to 21, though young people who are 18 and older can vote and join the military.
“People need to be able to defend themselves,” said former South Carolina state Sen. Lee Bright as a grassroots movement begins in the state to block Graham and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) from passing the bill.
“I wish they were leading in the direction of liberty, and not infringing on the Second Amendment,” he continued, The Epoch Times reported.
“Anytime something like this happens, the Left uses this as an opportunity to take away people’s rights. I wish my senators would lead in the right direction. I always considered Tim Scott a friend, but we have to respectfully disagree on this issue.”
Added former Maine state Sen. Eric Brakey in an interview with the paper, “You wouldn’t even know you were being targeted until government agents were knocking on your door.”
The Graham-Blumenthal bill will most likely offer financial incentives to states for passing red flag legislation.
Opponents of such laws say they violate a basic legal protection in the Constitution — due process, as well as a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Also, opponents worry that such laws can be abused by people who are motivated for personal reasons and animosity to report someone to authorities as ‘potentially dangerous’ so as to relieve them of their firearms.
“Earlier this year, Maine people by the thousands told our state politicians to reject red flag gun confiscation. Senator [Susan] Collins and Senator King should think twice about supporting this unconstitutional gun control proposal against the Maine people,” said Brakey, who unsuccessfully ran against Sen. Angus King (I) last year.
Mississippi state Rep. Dana Criswell told the Times he is urging his two senators to reject the legislation.
“If they were standing in front of me right now, I would say please you’ve got to stand against the red flag laws,” Criswell said in reference to Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.).
“They are undermining our Constitution. When someone can report you at random and the police show up and want to confiscate your guns—even if they say it’s just temporary—that is a dangerous scary precedent. I beg them to fight against it. I hope that they will see the error in this and appeal to the president and say, ‘We’ve got to find another way,’” he continued.
Democrats have historically backed red-flag laws at the state level and appear to be on board new federal legislation, though it’s not clear the party would back anything seen as a political victory for President Trump and Republicans ahead of the 2020 election.
Known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), the Mises Institute notes that “political leaders assure gun owners red flag laws won’t trample over civil liberties and are a middle ground solution that appease pro-gunners and gun controllers alike. But the devil is in the details when dealing with any form of government intervention.”
In addition to trampling due process rights, the organization notes, red flag laws often involve indefinite time-frames for gun confiscation as well.