Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel once said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”
True to that statement, many emotionally-charged politicians — including President Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas)— are now calling for so-called “red flag” laws. Also known as “Extreme Risk Protection Orders” (ERPOs), these laws allow for the confiscation of firearms without due process; this is unconstitutional and goes against the very fabric of our Republic, eroding both due process and a person’s natural right to self-defense.
Red flag laws have already been abused in various states and cases, having been passed in 17 states and Washington, D.C. since 1999. If passed at the federal level, it will be another blow toward our liberty, much like the indefinite detention provisions of the 2012 NDAA, warrantless wiretapping of the PATRIOT Act, metadata collection by the NSA, and the expansion of the unconstitutional FISA courts.
People should also be concerned that red flag laws will be used to target political adversaries and used against anyone that government officials may disagree with. President Trump, of all people, should know what it feels like to be wrongly targeted, as both the FBI and FISA courts were used against him when he ran for office.
That being said, it’s alarming to see him asking social media networks for help in targeting individuals that may pose a danger. Just think, if you’ve ever been in “Facebook jail” or banned from Twitter, you could be flagged.
And with a world more connected now more than ever before thanks to social media and instant news, it’s essential to realize the role that the mainstream media has played in sensationalizing mass shooting tragedies. According to data provided by the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, violent crime rates have been in decline since the 1990s, despite rises in public perception of crime rates.
Among the many things ignored by the mainstream media are the countless incidents where a good person with a gun has prevented a tragedy, even though these positive incidents happen far more often than not.
This is why if elected officials truly want to help these situations, they must eliminate laws such as gun-free zones that restrict law-abiding gun owners from carrying in specific places. According to the Crime Prevention Center, since 1950, 94 percent of mass shootings have occurred in gun-free zones.
Similarly, the cities and states with the most extreme gun laws in the nation have some of the nation’s highest crime rates. These laws also led to dangerous situations that place both law enforcement and citizens in harm’s way.
The bottom line: Red flag laws are not just unconstitutional — they simply don’t work. We the people must realize that the government cannot be in all places to stop all crimes. Only a well-armed citizenry can act as a deterrent to both criminals and big government.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.”
Government officials today should realize that they have no right to infringe upon an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. In fact, the Second Amendment does not give people any rights; these rights are already endowed by nature. The United States Constitution is unique because it bars the government from infringing on the pre-existing right to keep and bear arms.
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As a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, I have had many conversations with constituents concerned about giving the government any more authority over our God-given right to keep and bear arms. With an alarming number of elected officials unable to see that the answer to the problem is more freedom, not less, we should never forget that the worst forms of genocide have always started with the erosion of due process and the confiscation of firearms.
Therefore, I’m calling on all elected officials to obey their Oath to the Constitution by defending the Bill of Rights and opposing any new attempts to pass red flag laws.
Stewart Jones is a state representative from South Carolina House District 14.
Originally appeared in The Hill.