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This Picture Accidentally Sums Up Why Gun Owners Are Wary of Red Flag Laws

A graphic posted to Twitter last week by Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor, has been derided by gun rights advocates as proof that they’re right to oppose new gun control legislation.

SO WHAT

Conservatives simply don’t trust Democrats to enforce gun laws fairly.

WHAT HAPPENED

Wolf tweeted the diagram to promote “red flag” laws, which allow courts to order the confiscation of firearms from individuals deemed dangerous to themselves or others.

“Red flag laws still require due process, and any removal of weapons is temporary,” Wolf assured his followers.

  • But conservative commentators said the Democrat’s graphic near-perfectly illustrates what’s wrong with red flag laws, which are central to the bipartisan gun control bill that advanced toward a full Senate vote Tuesday.
  • “If you believe Democrats won’t weaponize red flag laws against conservatives, then you’re an idiot who ignored Democrats weaponizing the DOJ, FBI, OSHA, Dept of ED, IRS, DHS, & HHS against conservatives because they’re conservatives,” pro-gun podcaster Liz Wheeler tweeted in response to the news.

WHY THE RIGHT IS SUSPICIOUS

While some conservatives, including in Congress, have rejected red flag laws as outright unconstitutional, many others have withheld their support due largely to concerns about enforcement.

  • In a Monday essay, National Review’s Charles Hilu faulted Democrats for having “failed to demonstrate their unwillingness to use the laws as a club with which to beat their political opponents.”
  • Hilu cited, as examples, Wolf’s tweet and a 2019 tweet by Rep. Eric Swalwell, D., Calif., in which the congressman referred to conservative podcaster Ben Shapiro as “Reason 1,578 America needs red flag laws.”
  • “Bipartisan agreement on a contentious gun policy would signal that Democrats and Republicans can work together toward sensible solutions to gun violence,” Hilu wrote. “Unfortunately, we have become too polarized to trust each other to execute these laws fairly.”

SAME ENERGY: On Monday, Don Moynihan, a liberal political science professor at Georgetown University, tweeted that he couldn’t wait for Congress to empower him to report former Republican Gov. Eric Greitens of Missouri for his gun-toting Senate campaign ad.

  • “Waiting on that bill to be passed that includes red flag laws so I can report this person waving a gun around in public threatening to murder his political opponents,” Moynihan said.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which the Senate agreed to take up in Tuesday’s 64 to 34 vote, appeared to have more than enough support to overcome a filibuster and head to the House.

  • 14 Republican senators voted for the bill, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
  • McConnell, referring to recent high-profile mass shootings, called the bill “a common sense package of popular steps that will help make these horrifying incidents less likely while fully upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”
  • Stephen Gutowski reported at The Reload: “The package extends current prohibitions on gun sales to those who have disqualifying juvenile records and those convicted of misdemeanor violent crimes against ‘dating partners.’ The bill also includes a new background check process for those 18 to 20 years old, funding for ‘red flag’ laws or other state crisis intervention programs, the reclassification of who must obtain federal gun dealing licenses and several other proposals.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday that he expects the legislation to pass by the end of the week.

  • “While it is not everything we want,” he said, “this legislation is urgently needed.”

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