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Op-Ed: Red Flag Laws Ignore The Truth About Crime

The following Op-Ed was penned by Andy Reardon and featured in The Portland Press Herald.

After every senseless tragedy in America, gun control activists and their media allies call for more gun restrictions and gun confiscation, and they attack our Second Amendment rights. No matter the circumstances of the crime committed, they will exploit the loss of life to advance their political agenda.

Over the last several years, extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs), more commonly referred to as red flag laws, have become the “go-to” policy prescription for mourning communities after a senseless mass murder. To date, 21 states have adopted some form of red flag or “extreme risk” laws that allow law enforcement or other government agencies to confiscate firearms from individuals who are judged, without due process, to be at risk to do harm to themselves or others.

Recently, the Biden administration announced plans to open the National Extreme Risk Protection Order Resource Center, and Vice President Kamala Harris called on all states to pass red flag laws and use federal funding to implement ones already in place. Sadly, what’s missing from the conversation surrounding red flag laws is the efficacy of these controversial, unconstitutional laws that undermine our constitutional rights and compromise our safety.

Study after study affirm that red flag laws simply do not work. According to research conducted by RAND, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, no study shows that extreme risk protection orders decreased suicide, violent crime, mass shootings, police shootings, or unintentional injuries and deaths.

Similarly, a study by firearms researcher K. Alexander Adams suggests that ERPOs have no impact on total homicide or total suicide rates. His research shows that there is no statistical difference in any outcome 10 years before and after the implementation of state red flag laws in his sample set. In short, neither the homicide nor suicides rates were significantly affected.

Firearms scholar Dave Kopel, who agrees that red flag laws have no noticeable impact on crime rates, testified to the U.S. Senate that expanding the number of people who can petition for an ERPO may increase the likelihood that ERPOs could be misused, for instance, to harass a former spouse or disarm a potential victim. But these stats and figures aren’t that surprising, right?

Dangerous, threatening individuals are solely responsible for committing acts of violence and pose the greatest risk to our community. You don’t need in-depth research to support this summary statement. It’s just common sense. If you take away a person’s firearms but keep that dangerous individual in the home, the threat of violence still exists. If you remove the individual from the home, rather than the firearms, there is no longer a risk of violence.

So instead of passing new restrictions on law-abiding citizens like Maine Democrats want to do, how about we enforce the laws that currently exist? Often, we see that mass murderers make open threats to inflict harm and kill others. In fact, the man who ended up taking the lives of nearly two dozen innocent Mainers vowed to attack the Air Force base where he was stationed. These threats should have led to his incarceration.

Instead, the deranged killer’s threats were ignored, and the community of Lewiston – and our state as a whole – will forever be changed by the predictable and clearly avoidable tragedy that left 18 dead and 13 wounded.

In the wake of a tragedy, we must mourn together as Americans and come together under the banner of common sense to promote real, actionable solutions to the problems plaguing our nation. Instead of championing policies that threaten our constitutional rights and safety, let’s focus on the root of the problem. Red flag laws ignore the simple truth that criminals, not guns, commit crime.

We also know that evil exists and lurks around every corner. That’s why, as a firearms trainer and proud member of Women for Gun Rights, I urge all my friends and neighbors to purchase a firearm and learn how to use it. You are your own first responder. Outsourcing the protection of my family and myself is a gamble I’m not willing to take.

 Andee Reardon is the owner of East Coast School of Safety. She is certified by the USCCA and NRA to teach several courses including Medical Emergency Response and Countering the Mass Shooter Threat. Andee serves as Maine State Director for Women for Gun Rights.

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