- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 2, 2020

A new red flag gun law just took effect in Colorado giving family members and law enforcement officials the authority to petition a judge to strip an individual’s Second Amendment rights based on concerns of mental fitness.

And well-intentioned as that law might be — it stems from the fatal shooting of a sheriff’s deputy by a mentally deranged man — it’s still unconstitutional.

It’s still wrong.

It’s still a short-term knee-jerk reaction to a tragedy that will not achieve its stated goal of stopping killings but rather punish legal firearms’ holders and ultimately, erode the Second Amendment.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Zackari Parrish was shot and killed a couple of years ago while serving in the line of duty. His shooter? A heavily armed man who was mentally unstable. But honestly, what type of person shoots and kills a cop except the mentally unstable?

Anyhow, out of that tragic event came the Zackari Parrish Violence Prevention Act, also known as the Colorado Red Flag law — also, to the constitutionalists in the crowd, known as the guns’ taking law. Now, under this so-called safety measure, a legal carrier can see his or her Second Amendment rights stripped by a judge if that judge agrees with petitioners — family members, law enforcement — that the legal carrier is a bit on the crazy side. Define crazy? Define mentally unstable?

That’s up to the family members to decide. And law enforcement. And the judge.

And then it’s up to law enforcement to go enforce the judge’s order — meaning, police then go to the guy’s home, the gal’s home, and physically remove all weapons.

There’s a recipe for disaster right there, yes? Asking police to enter an armed mentally unstable person’s home and forcibly remove the mentally unstable person’s weapons?

“It’s going to be somewhat on the job training through the year because we really don’t know what this is going to look like,” Denver Police Department Division Chief of Investigations Joe Montoya told CBS News.

There’s a comfort.

But police safety to the side, the real problem here is the unconstitutional grab of guns, absent due process. Simply accusing an individual of mental instability and putting that individual in the position of having to prove mental stability just reeks of un-Americanism. How to prove innocence? Better to treat mental illness with doctors and therapists, not gun-seizing court authorities.

“I think there is that general fear that we are going to be going in seizing guns at the drop of a hat and really, that’s not what we want to do,” Montoya said.

Well and good.

But whether the guns of law-abiding owners are being seized at the drop of a hat, or at the complaint of a family member, or at the feeling or instinct of a law enforcement officer, is not really the issue. The issue is there’s a Second Amendment — and there are violations of the Second Amendment.

Just because the violations are supposed to be in the name of society’s safety does not make them constitutional.

Red flag laws open the doors to flawed, erroneous reporting, leading to flawed, erroneous judicial decisions and seizures — leading to flawed, erroneous, egregious hits to the Second Amendment. The court challenges won’t be long in coming. Hopefully, neither will the tossing of these red flag laws.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.

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