On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee held a markup hearing on various pieces of gun control legislation. While discussing HR1236, the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2019, commonly referred to as red flag laws, Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-GA) took swipes at Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY). In the past, Nadler has dubbed himself as someone who values civili liberties and due process. But, of course, we know that red flag laws defy both of those principles.
"Mr. Chairman, thank you again for holding this markup today. Like you, I am concerned about addressing this important issue, addressing the issue of mass shootings to combating the discouraging laws plaguing our urban communities. I stand ready to work with you on sensible solutions that will, that could actually prevent, these atrocities. What I am not willing to do is support legislation that will not do anything to make us safer and will simultaneously infringes on the rights and liberties guaranteed by our Constitution. Unfortunately, all three of the bills we're considering today will do just that," Collins explained. "First, we'll be considering HR1236, the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2019. While this bill may seem like a common sense measure, it's flawed in far too many ways to be worthy of this Committee's support."
"Five months ago in an interview, one of the statements given by the Chairman, and you said this to one of your hometown papers: 'My original motive in politics, from the time I was probably 12-years-old, was civil rights, civil liberties and due process and I've always concentrated on them and that's why I've never changed,'" Collins quoted.
Collins laid out the lack of due process and how that's dangerous to Americans' Second Amendment rights.
"Well, I'm not sure what's changed but the bill before us today has some serious due process problems. Namely, the bill allows for confiscation of individual's firearms without notice or without an opportunity to be heard," Collins explained. "Even more egregious is the fact that ex-parte determination can be determined when a judge finds there's a 'reasonable cause' to believe the individual possesses a danger to himself or others [while] having access to a firearm. 'Reasonable cause' isn't even 'probably cause.' It's certainly less than clear and convincing evidence. Do we really want to surrender Americans' Constitutional rights to such a low standard without giving those citizens notice or an opportunity to be heard? What other rights are we willing to sacrifice in this manner?"
"Ex-parte proceedings manners are not the only flaws in this bill. For a permanent order, the court must find that a preponderance of evidence that the individual possesses a danger to himself or others by having access to a firearm. We don't convict people of petty crimes by preponderance of evidence, but my colleagues are willing to take away a Constitutional right with merely a finding of preponderance of evidence. Our Committee is charged with protecting due process and every Constitutional right, not eviscerating them."
The Ranking Member also asked a number of questions gun rights advocates have had, like what happens after a person's firearms are taken away from them? Is he or she given mental health help? If someone is deemed unfit to have a firearm then clearly they need some sort of professional help. How is that being addressed?
"If the effects of this bill continue to emerge, once the court finds the person too dangerous to possess a firearm, what does the bill indicate the court should do? Does it provide for some sort of incapacitation, attention, evaluation, or a provision of mental health services?" Collins asked. "No. In fact, the bill is silent. It does not address the person's possible illnesses or instabilities, even though the court has just determined him or her a dangerous enough to be stripped of a fundamental Constitutional right."
And then there's the issue of someone causing harm with a weapon other than a firearm.
"I suppose we should all hope and pray such dangerous individuals don't have access to any other things that would allow them to harm themselves. If they do, then this is sort of a waste of time," Collins said bluntly. "HR1236 allows a person to petition to take away any other person's Second Amendment rights with a court order. There is no required nexus between the parties. You don't even have to know each other. In light of that, it's unthinkable that this bill doesn't require law enforcement officer to independently substantiate the claims and there are no penalties for making a false claim against anyone."
"These are just a few of the myriad of problems found in this bill. I've seen and heard statements from some of my Republican colleagues indicating that we'd be willing to consider red flag legislation. Unfortunately, the proposal today is so flawed that not anyone committed to looking into the errors we have just laid out would be supportive of that. I have said this before. There are ways that we have worked together in the past. This is not one of those."
#HR1236 is so flawed that anyone committed to our Constitution can’t seriously consider it. Why my Democrat colleagues are so eager to abandon the bedrock of our constitutional freedoms and due process is beyond me. pic.twitter.com/l1JnIhbYzz— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) September 10, 2019
If people like Nadler truly cared about civil liberties and due process, they wouldn't be pushing legislation that makes Americans guilty until proven innocent. They would protect a person's right to have a hearing before they're deemed mentally unfit to own firearms. People like Nadler may not like the Second Amendment, but they need to realize, our Constitutional rights are more sacred than their feelings.