Jim Renacci: Adopting Red Flag Laws Is the Wrong Move for Ohio

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 14: Gun owners and second amendment advocates gather at the Ohio State House to protest gun control legislation on September 14, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. The group stood against red flag laws proposed by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and national politicians in the wake of a …
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Gun control advocates have used the recent waves of mass shootings that have plagued this country to advance their political ambitions and rollback Second Amendment rights.

Multiple states, including Maryland, New Jersey, and Florida, have passed red flag laws to curb gun violence. Supporters of these laws claim that they will prevent potentially dangerous individuals from obtaining firearms, but despite their assertion, these laws will not decrease gun crimes or prevent mass shootings.

Red flag laws are an infringement on citizens’ constitutional rights.

Red flag laws allow law enforcement and family members to obtain court orders to confiscate firearms from potentially dangerous individuals temporarily. What this flawed policy does is neglect one’s right to due process, allows for fallacious claims, and has proven to be utterly ineffective.

According to a study by the RAND Corporation, nearly one-in-three mass shooters were legally prohibited from gaining access to firearms at the time of the shooting. All the gun laws we have on the books couldn’t stop people with criminal motives from acting upon them. The same study found that risk protection orders like those in the red flag laws have proven merely inconclusive for curbing gun violence.

A Duke professor told NBC News that ”red flag laws would have to be teamed with other measures to make a significant dent in the country’s gun violence.” The professor also emphasized that relying on red flag laws to prevent mass shootings could be a ”needle in the haystack” argument.

While red flag laws fail to prevent mass shootings, they do have a record of infringing on citizens’ right to due process. Most current state laws on gun confiscation are incredibly vague on what warrants a person to be considered a danger to themselves and others. Defendants can’t make their case until the final hearing, ultimately losing the right to bear arms for an unforeseeable amount of time and high financial cost. A scorned lover, a former employer, or a family member you no longer speak to could easily use the law to seek revenge, make false claims, and have your right to the Second Amendment suspended.

During my time in Congress, I spent time working on solutions to gun violence and mass shootings. As a husband, father, and former congressman, I, too, emphasize the importance of stopping this scourge that’s killed countless innocent lives across our country. Yet throughout my time researching red flag laws, I found that do little-to-nothing in terms of protecting Americans while assaulting our liberties. This unsound legislation is nothing but a gateway for far-left Democrats to move the needle in favor of abolishing the Second Amendment.

In my home state of Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine pushed for red flag laws before backtracking on the issue. The new bill being pushed by the governor expands the “pink slip” laws which allows the government to take away individuals firearms if they are in the throes of drug or alcohol addiction.

Like the red flag laws, this violates citizens right to due process and will stigmatize people suffering with alcohol or drug dependency. Not to mention like red flag laws, there’s no evidence that this will actually stop gun violence or mass shootings in this state or across the country. Ohio voters did not elect a Republican governor in 2018 so they can govern like a liberal Democrat.

I stand firm in believing we need to address our nation’s mental health crisis and do better in reaching out and identifying potentially dangerous people. I am, however, utterly opposed to laws that attack law-abiding Americans’ rights to protect themselves and their families based on loose allegations.

Red flag laws are a baseless, weak, and unrealistic solution to solving the problem of gun violence in our country. Gov. DeWine should stand up for legal gun owners, not liberal activists looking to find new ways to infringe on their rights.

Jim Renacci represented Ohio’s 16th congressional district as a Republican from 2011 to 2019. He is the chairman of Ohio’s Future Foundation.

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