On February 19, 2019, the North Dakota House firmly stood against gun confiscation.
The North Dakota House took down a so-called “red flag” bill by an iconic 17-76 vote, making it the first red flag bill to be defeated via roll call vote in the nation.
Red flag laws are the latest gun control craze sweeping the nation. The laws are euphemistically labeled red flag laws or Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), which allow law enforcement to confiscate an individual’s firearms who is allegedly deemed a threat to themselves or others. A simple accusation from an acquaintance, friend, or family will suffice in obtaining a confiscation order.
Indeed, these laws operate with complete disregard to due process. Without so much as a hearing before a judge, the accused can have their weapons confiscated. It could be months before a gun owner could actually restore his or her gun rights in court.
Despite the civil liberties concerns, 13 states have enacted their own red flag laws. Florida, a traditionally pro-gun state, was one of the most notable states to adopt red flag gun confiscation orders following the Parkland shooting. Since then, red flag laws have popped up across the country, with the U.S. Senate strongly considering a bipartisan version of a red flag law.
Red flag laws have already garnered controversy in places like Maryland, where a 61-year-old man was killed when two police officers showed up at his door to serve him a court order. Such lurid stories demonstrate the potential harm red flag laws could bring.
Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed in North Dakota. Led by pro-gun representative Rick Becker, who sponsored the passage of North Dakota’s Constitutional Carry bill HB 1169 in 2017, the North Dakota House was able to stop North Dakota’s red flag bill in its tracks.
Becker was correct in noting that North Dakota’s red flag bill violated constitutional firearm and due process rights. He asserted that the efforts to obtain a court order could be based on trivial hints of future violence, essentially creating Minority Report scenarios of pre-crime prevention. A gross violation of due process if there could ever be one.
Becker had choice words for HB 1537:
“Make no mistake, the bill before us is without exaggeration a gun-grabbing bill….. It supposes that the ends justify the means.”
Thankfully, Becker and his colleagues were able to kill this bill before it could gain any more traction. As governments to continue to grow across the nation, we can expect more iterations of red flag laws to pop up. North Dakota should serve as an example to the rest of the nation that gun control can and should be defeated when introduced.
The biggest threats to our civil liberties often come from our own backyards.