Although he’s out of office, former Congressman Ron Paul continues to share wisdom on controversial pieces of public policy.
He recently sounded off on the so-called “red flag” gun confiscation laws in a piece for The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.
Paul astutely observes that a “common trick of big-government loving politicians is to give legislation names so appealing that it seems no reasonable person could oppose it.” Indeed, this is a clever trick. It is a marketing ploy by busybody politicians to get people to accept their tyrannical schemes.
Certain notable pieces of legislation such as the “PATRIOT Act” and the “Access to Affordable and Quality Care Act” had innocuous titles, despite the negative long-term implications that came with passing these laws. Paul uses the example of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. Again, another law with an otherwise harmless title. Who could possibly be against stopping domestic violence?
When dealing with legislation, there is always more to story than meets the eye. According to Paul, the Violence Against Women Act “provides federal grants to, and imposes federal mandates on, state and local governments with the goal of increasing arrests, prosecutions, and convictions of those who commit domestic violence.”
As a strict constitutionalist, Paul recognizes that the VAWA is another example of unconstitutional legislation. He points out that the “Constitution limits federal jurisdiction to three crimes: counterfeiting, treason, and piracy. Other crimes like domestic violence are handled by state and local governments.”
The law’s unconstitutionality doesn’t stop there. According to the VAWA, any time an individual’s wife or domestic partner places a restraining order against them they are then prohibited from owning a firearm. Paul views this as a “blatant violation of the Second Amendment’s prohibition on federal laws denying anyone the right to own a gun.” One may think that Paul is condoning domestic violence, but they’d be mistaken. Paul, instead, makes the case that only state and local officials have the power to determine if “someone subject to a restraining order, or convicted of a violent crime” will have their Second Amendment rights taken away.
The current VAWA at least protects due process before someone is stripped of their gun rights. But that could be changing in the next few months. The U.S. House passed new legislation that not only reauthorizes the VAWA but adds several modifications to this legislation. Particularly troubling is a new provision that enables authorities to take away a person’s gun rights based on a weak allegation that the person was involved in an act of domestic violence.
Effectively, a person can lose their Second Amendment rights in seconds “without even having an opportunity to tell their side of the story to a judge.”
It would be a mistake to believe that red flag laws have support with just Democrats. Since the Parkland shooting in 2018, red flag laws have been a rallying point for Democrats and Republicans alike. A Republican Governor in Rick Scott signed Florida’s red flag law in 2018.
Now, Republicans like Lindsey Graham are proposing their own red flag laws in Congress.
The dangers of red flag laws go beyond the hypothetical. Maryland police shot and killed 61-year-old Gary Willis when they knocked on Willis’ door while trying to serve him a gun confiscation order early in the morning. These confrontations will become more frequent if red flag laws become widespread. Otherwise innocent civilians could lose their lives in these situations because they assumed that the police knocking on their door were trying break into their house.
Indeed, domestic violence is a problem. But that does not necessitate that the government takes unconstitutional measures to resolve it.
Instead, we should focus on rebuilding civic institutions that help reduce anti-social behavior. Not every problem has to be solved by the state.