Quick on the heels of their big win in 2018, Democrats announced a sweeping gun control package this year.
The crown jewel being the Gun Confiscation Order bill, often referred to as a “Red Flag Law.”
Now all eyes are on whether the moderate wing of the GOP will side with the pro-gun lobby, or vote with the Democrats as they did last year.
Virginia Democrats Officially File Major Gun Confiscation for 2019’s Session
Virginia gun owners may soon be under threat of losing their firearms if a new bill passes into law this year.
Gaining on the Obamacare expansion the General Assembly passed in 2018, Democrats are hoping to push through more of their agenda this session.
Now, Democrats have filed HB 1763, a bill to legalize ex parte gun confiscation in Virginia.
Sometimes referred to as a “Red Flag Law” or “Extreme Risk Protective Order law,” this bill would legalize gun confiscation orders for folks thought to be a risk to themselves or others.
However, the firearms may be taken even if law enforcement lacks the probable cause to make an arrest.
In fact, this issue has pro-gun and civil liberties groups worried that such a law would violate the Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Gun Confiscation Orders Can be Processed Without the Gun Owner’s Knowledge
In its current form, law enforcement personnel or a Commonwealth’s Attorney must first request a gun confiscation order from a judge.
If they have probable cause to believe a person might be a risk to themselves or others, the judge may grant the request, and the firearms will be seized.
Gun owners, their lawyers, or any witnesses would not be involved in this process.
In fact, such an order can be issued without any criminal charges being pressed.
When the police arrive and serve the order, it will contain a statement describing the requirements and penalties, including the prohibition against the subject purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm.
Once the weapons have been seized, gun owners may plead to the court once to have the order lifted.
If granted, law enforcement must return the firearms within five days, but remain “immune from civil or criminal liability for any damage to or deterioration, loss, or theft.”
‘Temporary’ Confiscation Can be Extended Indefinitely
An apparent loophole has pro-gun groups further concerned.
If a gun owner’s first appeal to lift the gun confiscation order is rejected, they’re barred from making any further appeals.
On top of that, the ‘temporary’ gun confiscation order can be extended indefinitely, effectively stripping gun owners of their Second Amendment right without a trial.
VCDL Calls ‘Red Flag Laws’ Unconstitutional
Virginia Citizen’s Defense League (VCDL), the largest pro-gun group in Virginia, unleashed their opposition to the bill.
“Red Flag laws are unconstitutional ‘prior restraint’ laws that violate our basic civil rights,” wrote Philip Van Cleave, President of VCDL. “If a person is ‘too dangerous’ to own a gun, then why is that person left walking around with the rest of us? Can’t that ‘dangerous’ person still commit suicide or harm others if they have the opportunity?”
VCDL also published a flyer describing ‘Red Flag Laws’ as gun-confiscation laws disguised as ‘gun-violence’ prevention laws.
However, with Governor Northam and the Democrats firmly behind the sweeping gun control package, these measures stand a likely chance of passing into law.
Just last year, Speaker Kirk Cox and the moderate wing of the GOP joined the Democrats in pushing Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.
Now, all eyes are on Speaker Cox to see whether he’ll side with the pro-gun lobby, or whether he’ll join Governor Northam again to pass more of the Democrats’ agenda.
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