Thursday, August 22, 2019

There is no non-malicious justification for "Red Flag" laws

Do something, for the children!

We hear this all the time from gun banners.  It's almost always stupid and useless, but I am coming around to the belief that it's very often malicious.  The idea that the government can act wisely and judiciously, while sweet, is known to any thinking person to be wrong, wrong, wrong.  Remember Senator Kennedy finding himself on the no-fly list?
In August 2004, Senator Ted Kennedy told a Senate Judiciary Committee discussing the No Fly List that he had appeared on the list and had been repeatedly delayed at airports.[citation needed] He said it had taken him three weeks of appeals directly to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to have him removed from the list. Kennedy said he was eventually told that the name "T Kennedy" was added to the list because it was once used as an alias of a suspected terrorist. There are an estimated 7,000 American men whose legal names correspond to "T Kennedy". (Senator Kennedy, whose first name was Edward and for whom "Ted" was only a nickname, would not have been one of them.) Recognizing that as a U.S. Senator he was in a privileged position of being able to contact Ridge, Kennedy said of "ordinary citizens": "How are they going to be able to get to be treated fairly and not have their rights abused?"
I encourage everyone to go read that link, which discusses notable cases of No-Fly List failures.  Among the people falsely identified as terrorists were the wife of Senator Stevens, multiple Congressmen (including the 3rd highest ranking Republican in the House), Air Marshalls, active duty military (including one returning from Iraq who was denied boarding his flight home and a retired Air Force Brigadier General who was an airline pilot and who was denied boarding his own plane), and children under five years old.

The No-Fly List was intended to keep people safe, to "do something for the children".  And it's stupid and useless.  The government repeatedly fails to act wisely and judiciously.

And so to Red Flag laws.  We are already seeing exactly this same idiocy in action:
I had several readers who sent me this story (much appreciated, guys):
Just last week, a man in Florida had his firearms confiscated simply because he had the same name as a criminal. That’s right. A man was stripped of his Second Amendment right…because the police failed to differentiate a law-abiding citizen with a thug.
This is not a case of mistaken identity:
Carpenter had never met the woman in question and never lived at the address listed in the restraining order. Moreover, other than being white, he looked nothing like the man the terrorized the woman.
The man in question is 5'8. Carpenter is 5'11. The alleged drug dealer is 110lbs. Carpenter is over 200. The man has black hair. Carpenter is completely bald. Last but not least, the man in question is covered in tattoos, and Carpenter only has a few.
Seems pretty cut and dry that they have the wrong guy, doesn't it?  But he had to turn in his guns, because Reasons.  There's no way to see this as other than malice on the part of the governmental employees.

In security terms, this misidentification is called a "false positive".  While the problem isn't as bad as it used to be, it was for a while so bad that TV commercials mocked it.  Remember Windows Vista and their UAC security feature?

False Positives are a hard problem to solve, and requires diligence to keep bad things from happening.  This is why you get a second opinion if your doctor tells you that you have a disease that is expensive and painful to treat.  Few diagnoses are 100%, and you don't want to go through that if you're one of the 15% that didn't actually have the disease.

But it costs money, time, and effort to get rid of these False Positives.  The government employees clearly didn't care one bit that the guy didn't remotely fit the description.  Protecting the guy's rights wasn't a priority for them.

This is a type of malice that has been well documented in literature throughout the ages.  Pretty much everything by Franz Kafka covers this, as well as more recent works like Catch-22.  The callousness of uncaring governmental employees is legendary.

To those who would say that this isn't really personal malice on display, the question is how is this functionally different from malice?  OK, so the guy will get his day in court next month, but that's on his dime.  The government has neatly shifted the cost of their False Positive to him.

And quite frankly, this is what we see every time new gun laws are proposed.  The restrictions may not be very big or very expensive, but they always fall on law abiding gun owners.  Every time.  People proposing these laws simply don't care about that.  There's a word that describes someone who wants his fellow citizens to suffer inconvenience, expense, or worse.



Murphy(AZ) said...

You can be as pure as the driven snow, but nobody in government gives a damn. Find a target, seize whatever they want, it can all be called "proceeds of an illegal enterprise," and pass the paperwork on to the prosecutor. Case closed.

Whether the prosecutor decides to follow through, your property is GONE! it is going to take countless time and treasure to get your property back, and every passing day makes it easier for your property to "get lost" at the hands of some sticky fingered troll along the chain of custody.

Red Flag laws will solve nothing. They will not stop anyone intent on breaking any of the thousands of gun laws already on the books. People will still die at the hands of the insane or simply butt-hurt people who are looking for some attention outside their mother's basement.

Jerry said...

Unless and until the laws are realigned to address a number of things, background checks will remain nothing but a government boondoggle.

1. The background check system must record sufficient information to identify the correct person. The last time that NICS tried to tell us that every thing was OK they ended up admitting that they had 3 false positives for every two correctly denied transactions.

2. Police, prosecutors and courts must reliably enforce laws against violent behavior. Look at how many times the Parkland shooter should have been arrested but wasn't. Ditto for the Gabrielle Giffords shooter.

3. The courts must immediately and reliably report convictions and findings to the appropriate entities. I can name three shooters which should have been denied if the information had been reported.

4. They want Red Flag Laws? OK but I want the government to be responsible for their mistakes like the recent case in Florida and to prosecute people who make malicious reports. I want the victims of malicious reporting to be able to sue malicious reporters & police agencies. The Florida case particularly irritates me. The police department knew the person they visited was the wrong person yet went ahead with it anyway.

Actually I have a modest proposal. The real problem with background checks is that the government owns and operates this system. Why don't we contract background checks to the credit reporting agencies and make it a system that anyone can use; not just licensed federal firearms dealers?

Beans said...

All well and good about Red Flag laws, but 'mistakes' and 'mis-reporting' will be treated like the other two major areas of travesty in the criminal justice system - specifically sexual battery and domestic battery charges.

Many agencies (LEO and prosecutorial) don't levy charges against false reporters, even blatantly false reporters for any false accusations laid, even though the accusations (from potentially credible to the totally inane and outrageous) because they 'don't want to dissuade future 'victims' from stepping forward.'

LEO and the Criminal Justice System have been using Sexual and Domestic Batteries/Assaults as ways to destroy innocent people for a long time. How many suicides, job losses, destroyed marriages or relations, lost businesses and LOST guns, CCWs and all gun rights because of false charges? Even 1 instance is too many, but the fallout of false accusations have been legion.

I would much rather reform the CJS and these laws instead of screwing any more with the real victims' rights

SiGraybeard said...

The elephant in the room about red flag laws and universal background checks is that they don't work. I agree with everything you say from a personal liberty standpoint, but it's not like you're trading liberty for safety or trading it for anything at all. You're giving away liberty for nothing.

They exist in several states. There is not one piece of evidence that they do anything to prevent crimes, murders, or mass murders.

Barbarus said...

Never forget: Marxists do not see law as an agreed set of rules for running society. To them, the law is a tool of oppression. That is how they see it, that is how they use it.

Anonymous said...

Barbarus has it right - new laws, especially those regarding guns, are not instituted to have a positive effect, they are implemented solely to be an impediment. Line up enough hoops to jump through and the probability of one tripping you increase; increase the number of hoops enoughy and people stop trying to jump through them (in the case of guns, however, the end result may not be what the hoop creators expect...).

There is a cost associated with operating background check systems; for example, Florida levies a $5 fee each time to cover the cost of the FDLE drone in Tallahassee sitting at the computer. Until the recoverable cost issue goes both ways it's pure government scam. A citizen denied through incorrect or incomplete data suffers loss, either in direct jeopardy (unable to obtain a self protection device in a timely manner), inconvenience (must return to the gun store a second time), or severe inconvenience (locate and supply documentation to correct government's error). The citizen's time is not free. Paralegals usually charge between $50 and $100 per hour for simple paperwork tasks; citizen compensation for government agency error correction at $50/hour seems quite reasonable and that compensation must come from the payroll line item in the government agency's budget. When Suzy or Fred see X% less in this week's paycheck, and have no idea if next week's will or won't be similarly affected, things will change.

Richard said...

Conservatives have got to quit thinking the enemy is stupid. They are not and thinking so is dangerous. Here in gun world, we are in one of the last enclaves of the culture that the leftists haven't taken over or destroyed and they are trying hard to destroy us.