If you want the best example yet of why conservatives pushing red flag laws are wrong, here you go.
A man’s son called the police on him, citing he thought his father might be suicidal. Without any due process at all, the police showed up, confiscated his entire firearms collection, and hospitalized him (likely for evaluation). NBC News ran with the story, painting with their headlines the idea that he was a mass shooter in waiting. There’s absolutely no evidence of that nor does their appear to even be any evidence he was actually suicidal.
Police who were responding to a report of a suicidal man Wednesday discovered a cache of weapons which included firearms, grenades and ammunition inside the man’s home.
The 72-year-old man, who was not identified, was reported to police by his son who feared for his father’s wellbeing and told officers that there were firearms inside the home, Lieutenant Dennis Rosenbaum of the Philadelphia Police Department said Thursday.
Officers discovered what appeared to be a grenade after the man’s son asked police to remove his father’s weapons from the home, Rosenbaum said. Bomb squad experts who were called to the scene found that the grenade was inactive.
Here were some of the tweets NBC sent out.
— Miguel Almaguer (@Miguelnbc) August 29, 2019
The man, who has been hospitalized, had at least 39 guns, multiple grenades and more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition, according to police. https://t.co/YATcJbSRv9
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 30, 2019
In reality, the man was simply a collector. Many of his guns were historical pieces from world wars. The “grenades” NBC News touts in their headline were all inactive, except for one smoke grenade which is legal to own.
There’s a lot of parts to object to regarding how this went down.
The first is the media angle. Why are they even reporting this when he’s been charged with no crime? How is it newsworthy and how does it accomplish anything but smearing gun owners? If the only point is to paint a negative perception of those who have gun collections, mission accomplished I guess.
I'm livid. This man is potentially suicidal and NBC runs a story on the national news demonizing him despite him doing literally nothing criminal at all? How can a news outlet do something so irresponsible and so abhorrent? What is your justification, @miguelnbc?
— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) August 30, 2019
The law enforcement aspect of this is far more important though.
A single phone call and a man’s entire collection is confiscated? There was no hearing, no judge, no due process at all. The police got one call and took it upon themselves to seize everything. Now the police have the right to “deem” weapons unsafe and not return them. This seems like a pretty big violation of the 4th amendment.
Police also don’t seem very keen to give the weapons back, requiring a petition, which the man’s family don’t seem to want to do. But why is it their decision and not the man’s? They say they don’t want them to “wind up in the wrong hands,” but how would that happen? I’m trying to avoid making assumptions about their politics but the language being used coupled with the location here is a dead giveaway.
His family has the right to petition for the weapons, which have been put into storage. If not, or if the police deem the weapons unsafe, they will be destroyed and melted down after a certain period of time.
“I don’t think they’re going to be trying to get the weapons back,” Rosenbaum said. “I’ve talked to the family today as of an hour ago and they just don’t want them to wind up in the wrong hands. They seem to be very nice people.”
It should also be noted that Philadelphia’s police chief is an outspoken Democrat and proponent for gun control. It’s no coincidence that this happened in his jurisdiction.
There’s a not insignificant number of conservatives, led by National Review’s David French, that think red flag laws on a national level are a great idea and have been pushing them in the wake of the most recent mass shootings. They are an awful idea and no one that respect constitutional governance should be promoting them.
I get the temptation. Conservatives want to imagine police as non-political entities who will always do the right thing but they aren’t. In many parts of the country, the leadership of police departments are just as liberal as the local mayors and city councils. They can not be trusted to not allow politics to encroach on decisions of confiscation.
Even if this man was truly suicidal (again, there’s no evidence of that yet), the police had no right to go in and take his weapons out of his house. At best, they should have detained the man, got him an evaluation, and allowed him a chance to plead his case. Now that they’ve taken the weapons into their possession, he’ll never see them again. This is not how things are supposed to work in this country and shame on some conservatives for pushing this garbage.
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