What are Red Flag Laws?

SQ Attorneys

Many headlines about mass shootings usually have many similarities. In most cases, family, friends, or acquaintances knew that the perpetrator was a troubled individual. So, gun-control advocates argue, can something be done to ensure disturbed individuals can’t access a gun? In response to the increase in suicides and mass shootings by troubled individuals, many states implemented “risk protection orders” or “extreme risk orders,” also known as “red flag” laws.

Red flag laws allow family members or law enforcement to petition a court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a troubled person. The court determines if the person is at serious risk of harming themselves or others with a gun and, if so, temporarily orders the person to surrender the firearm.

The Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms. Although, arguably, the framers of the Constitution were thinking about muskets and not today’s higher-powered rifles.

When the government passes a law, it must not violate the constitutional rights of citizens. Laws that may infringe on a fundamental right, such as the right to own a gun, are subject to “strict scrutiny.” To uphold a regulation under the strict scrutiny analysis, the law must have a compelling state interest and be narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.

For example, you have the right to free speech. However, the government may regulate the time, place, and manner of speech if there is a compelling interest.

It is illegal to yell “fire!” in a crowded theater. The First Amendment right to free speech is fundamental. However, the government has a compelling interest not to incite panic or unsafe conditions that this specific speech might create. The law is narrowly tailored in that you can’t yell “fire.” The law does not restrict all speech. You can yell, “I love cake!” but what would be the purpose of that?

Similarly, red flag laws must pass strict scrutiny. Therefore, any laws and regulations must be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling state interest. Generally, these laws have similar characteristics: they allow for due process and are limited in scope. Due process in this case essentially means that the individual has a hearing in front of a judge. And if the judge upholds the order, authorities remove the firearm for a short period.

Furthermore, there is no fine or penalty for possession of a firearm. If the owner obtained the gun legally and is legally permitted to have it, then they only lose the right to possess firearms while determined to be “at risk.”

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer. SQ Attorneys can be reached at (425) 359-3791 and/or (206) 441-0900.

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