Republicans from Oklahoma and Kansas are proposing gun bills that would prevent the U.S. government and their respective state governments from confiscating guns from individuals without due process.
Oklahoma and Kansas don’t have “red flag” laws where relatives, acquaintances, or police can acquire a court order to confiscate the firearms of an individual whom they suspect to be a threat to themselves or others.
Now, proposals moving forward in those states would prohibit local city and county governments from passing such laws. Not only that, these bills would make it a felony for someone to assist in enforcing such an order. The bills’ sponsors said they received motivation to push the bills for fear that Congress might enact a red flag law or provide federal grants to incentivize states to pass such legislation.
Gun rights advocates argued that red flag laws not only violate basic Second Amendment rights but also other civil liberties such as the right to due process, the ability for an individual to face his accuser, and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and property seizures.
“There’s numerous violations of the Bill of Rights taking place by these red flags laws,” stated Oklahoma State Senator Nathan Dahm, who introduced his bill to safeguard against red flag abuse.
Seventeen states and Washington D.C. already have some form of red flag legislation, with the bulk of these states implementing them in 2018, after the Parkland shooting. In the wake of mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, Congress has expressed interest in passing red flag legislation of its own.
Back in September, Dahm filed his bill. In addition, members of the Kansas State House and Senate — Mike Houser and Richard Hilderbrand —filed separate but identical bills. The state legislatures will likely consider these bills later in 2020.
All three bills declare any gun confiscation order from another state or a federal court to be null and void. Further, no state or local agency could accept federal grants mandating that such gun seizures be enforced.
Nullification measures such as the ones being proposed in Kansas and Oklahoma are as American as apple pie. Since the nation’s founding era, American political figures have used nullification of unconstitutional laws to voice their disapproval with federal overreach. This is a core function of America’s federalist tradition of decentralization and institutional competition between lower-level political jurisdictions.
Since the federal government has remained aloof to the concerns of gun owners for decades, states will have to pick up the slack.