Did the Justice Department Illegally Fund Red Flag Laws?

AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File

“Red Flag” laws have been the topic of discussion among both would-be gun-banners and the Second Amendment community for a while now. Some Republican politicians have gone all-in for these policies, even though there is little evidence of their effectiveness. Now it appears that the Biden administration’s Department of Justice may be illegally funding states to push these laws.

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Republicans and gun rights activists say the Biden administration unlawfully handed out federal funds to states that did not qualify under a program intended to promote so-called “red flag” laws.

In 2022, Congress passed and President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in response to mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, that left dozens dead. The law incentivizes states to pass extreme risk protection laws, also called “red flag” laws, that allow members of the public and law enforcement to petition courts for a civil order to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms for fear that person might do violence. After gun rights advocates raised Second Amendment concerns, Congress included requirements that states applying for federal grants to implement red flag laws include certain due process protections.

But Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., and Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., assert in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland that the Justice Department has handed federal funds to states that did not meet the minimum due process criteria. The letter accuses the Biden administration of ignoring Congress and demands to know why grants to at least eight states and territories with no red flag laws on the books nevertheless received federal funds under the DOJ program. It was signed by seven GOP senators and 26 House lawmakers.

“The Department of Justice appears to have weaponized the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to illegally fund ineligible ‘red flag’ laws and bribe pro-gun states into passing gun confiscation laws,” the lawmakers wrote.

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The entire letter from Senators Marshall and Mooney to Attorney General Garland is available to read at the link. The letter states in part:

Since the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, no states have revised their statutes to comply with the “due process” requirements imposed by the 117th Congress. Nevertheless, the Bureau of Justice Programs has funded every state that applied with a “red flag” gun confiscation law on the books without enforcing Congress’ “due process” requirements. The federal government should have no part in funding state level gun confiscation programs which violate the due process rights of gun owners.

Furthermore, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act’s intent was not to “require or incentivize states to adopt red flag laws.” It is also unlawful to use federal grants to pay for lobbying efforts to influence the adoption of any legislation or law.

Here is the full text of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

As of this writing, the Justice Department has not replied to Fox News’ request for comment. That the Justice Department has not replied should come as no surprise. They are –  to use a term that is probably in danger of cancellation – stonewalling the issue. A strongly worded letter will likely have no effect on Merrick Garland’s DOJ, any more than any number of other strongly worded letters have accomplished, well, anything. It’s likely that there is only one recourse that will be effective against this rogue DOJ, and the problem is, this goes a lot deeper than the Attorney General.

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The problem is: There’s little if any evidence that “red flag” laws are effective at all. Even commentators on the Left admit that they are rarely enforced. If these laws are sold as a tool to prevent violent crime, they are a tool that is left in the chest. But those facts are not stopping Merrick Garland’s DOJ from, apparently illegally, continuing to push for expansion of these bad policies.

In their push to disarm the American people, it seems Democrats won’t be swayed by the facts – or even by the law.

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