From Red Flag laws to anti-gun thought police, I’ve never seen it this bad

As someone who’s very outspoken about guns, the Second Amendment and our God-given rights, I’m hearing one question from readers again and again: Have you ever seen it this bad?

Folks, I’ve never seen it this bad, and I don’t know when, or if, it’s going to stop.

We’re not talking about the mere banning of a firearm accessory, which is pretty egregious on its own. What is happening now involves the very real and very unconstitutional loss of our rights.

We are sliding down the proverbial slippery slope.

The degradation of our rights began with Red Flag laws, which are also known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders, or ERPOs for short.

ERPOs allow someone to petition a court to order the removal of a third party’s firearms from their home without the need for probable cause or the commission of an actual crime.

Police can use force to enforce an ERPO  — including deadly force — and it is a crime for the gun owner to refuse to turn over their weapons.

Maryland’s ERPO law has already led to the death of one man — a 61-year-old homeowner shot dead by police after he refused to surrender his firearms.

There have been several legal challenges to red flag laws, most often for violating the Second Amendment, although the practice clearly raises Fourth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment issues as well.

Thought police

Former Broward County (Florida) Sheriff Scott Israel created the “Threat Assessment Unit” in the months following the horrific mass shooting in Parkland, which ultimately cost him his job.

Israel told the media in December 2018 that the unit would be headed by a former New York Police Department inspector and would evaluate threats made against schools.

Now, it seems the unit has branched out and is investigating problems that occur far removed from any school property.

Evidently, as long as the alleged perpetrator is a gun owner. they’re fair game — the First Amendment be damned!

According to Ammoland, Broward County resident Peter Van Antwerpen posted a meme on a Facebook group expressing his displeasure that some members of his community wanted to get rid of Florida’s powerful preemption law, which only allows the legislature to regulate firearms.

The meme showed former NRA President Charlton Heston hoisting a musket over his head, and included the words: “from my cold dead hands.”

“Enufsaid … let them come,” Antwerpen wrote on the meme. He also included the names of several people who opposed the preemption statute, adding, “I hope you are the ones to come confiscate my weapons.”

Ammoland pointed out in their story that Antwerpen is a strong Constitutionalist and Second Amendment supporter.

One of the people he named in his post, the wife of a city commissioner, interpreted the post as a threat, called the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and demanded they investigate Antwerpen.

They did.

According to Ammoland:

Four members from the newly formed “Threat Assessment Unit” showed up banging on Van Antwerpen’s door. The deputies entered the house with full tactical gear. The police did not have any warrants.

Van Antwerpen, in a bath towel, greeted the members of the unit. The investigator’s started to question Van Antwerpen about the post. He is a major supporter of law enforcement, so he chose to answer their questions.

Van Antwerpen explained the meme and asked the lead investigator if the meme broke any laws. He admitted that it did not. The investigator concluded that Van Antwerpen wasn’t a danger to anyone. He gave Van Antwerpen the report number.

My question is this, if the lead investigator already knew the post did not violate any law, why go over to Antwerpen’s home en masse, wearing scary ninja attire? In fact, why bother the poor man at all?

I guess anything goes as long as it’s only a gun owner whose rights get trampled.

Takeaways

In my humble opinion, there is no way red flag laws will withstand a serious constitutional challenge. They’re far too broad and they clearly contravene the Second, Fourth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.

That said, it could take years before a red flag case makes it before the Supreme Court. For gun owners, this will be a dangerous time. Piss off the wrong person, such as an ex-spouse, and you better get ready for the flash-bang crashing through a window.

As to Antwerpen’s sudden loss of First Amendment rights, the current anything goes, better-to-breach-the-door-to-be-on-the-safe-side-for-the-children mentality of local law enforcement will end too. Lawsuits will see to that. Until this changes, gun owners will remain squarely in the cross hairs of local law enforcement.

In the meantime, I’m going boating this weekend with all of my firearms. I certainly hope there won’t be a tragic accident to report.

Stay safe,

Lee

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About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

3 Comments

  1. 1.Get rid of Gun Free Zones
    2. Reopen mental hospitals and institutions
    3. Make the state’s and government accountabil for following up on mental and physical threats as soon as the receive them.
    That will curb mentally disturbed shootings
    It the person behind the gun that kills and sounds innocent people not the gun.

  2. His name was Gary Willis . He knew he did no wrong , so they shot him anyway.

    Why is Trump still pushing gun control by calling Dem. Senators and asking for it ?

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