Biden Admin Launches Centralized ‘Red Flag’ Hub to Target Gun Owners Who ‘Pose a Threat’
Biden Admin Launches Centralized ‘Red Flag’ Hub to Target Gun Owners Who ‘Pose a Threat’

By Tom Ozimek

The Biden administration is setting up a national center to provide training and technical assistance to help police, prosecutors, judges, and others implement “red flags” laws more effectively to take away guns from Americans “who pose a threat to themselves or others,” drawing criticism from some conservatives.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on March 23 that it had launched the National Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) Resource Center, a training and technical assistance hub that it says is meant to support states and localities in the implementation of their ERPO or red flag laws, which have long been controversial.

Red flag laws basically let someone like police, family members, or medical professionals bring a claim to an emergency court alleging that a person is mentally unwell and is a danger to themselves or others. If the court accepts the claim, that individual can then be “flagged” and prevented from buying firearms and allows the police to seize any guns in their possession.

Advocates of these types of laws, which have been implemented in a number of states, argue they’re needed to keep firearms out of the hands of people who are potentially dangerous.

“The launch of the National Extreme Risk Protection Order Resource Center will provide our partners across the country with valuable resources to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a March 23 statement.

Critics argue that these laws deny gun owners their Second Amendment rights without due process.

“Merrick Garland just announced a massive RedFlag Operation that the DOJ will be running by using EVERY spy tool the US government has in order to violate American’s Second Amendment!!” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said in a post on X, in which she called the Justice Department under President Joe Biden “weaponized.”

As of March 2024, 21 states and the District of Columbia have enacted red flag laws.

Even though ERPOs are civil orders as opposed to criminal ones, violating such an order could be a criminal offense.

Vice President Kamala Harris boasted in a post on X that the Biden administration had “invested” $750 million in taxpayer dollars to help implement red flag laws.

“Today, I am calling on every state to take action, and we are launching a national red flag resource center to assist,” she wrote in the post, which drew a flurry of critical reactions from other users, ranging from calls for states to ban red flag laws to charges that they’re unconstitutional.

‘Database to Disarm MAGA’

The DOJ says that the new centralized red flag hub will provide training and technical assistance to law enforcement officials, prosecutors, attorneys, judges, clinicians, victim service and social service providers, community organizations, and behavioral health professionals—in short, those who are responsible for implementing red flag laws in their states or cities.

“Supporting our law enforcement and community partners in curbing the scourge of gun violence is more critical than ever,” Acting Associate Attorney General Benjamin Mizer said in a statement.

The red flag center is being established in collaboration with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions (CGVS), an organization that “grounds our work in equit” and seeks to “address gun violence as an epidemic-level public health emergency” which “disproportionately impacts communities of color.”

The red flag center and its newly launched website seek to provide law enforcement and other groups responsible for ERPO implementation “direct access to critical information that will enhance their ability to reduce firearm homicides and suicides.”

The website also provides a platform for the red flag center to highlight new ways and strategies to implement ERPOs more effectively.

The announcement of the red flag center drew immediate criticism from some lawmakers, Second Amendment advocates, and others.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) was blunt with his criticism in a post on X, in which he called the project “evil.”

“What the hell is this evil? A Federal RedFlag center; We did not authorize this,” he wrote.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) speaks during a campaign event with Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Jan. 14, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Conservative political activist Laura Loomer said in a post on X that she believes the new program would be used to target Trump supporters.

“Oh look. The DOJ just created a program to redflag Trump supporters at the same time they are allowing for illegals to have guns,“ she wrote. ”We all know this will only be used against Trump supporters, so let’s just call it what it is. A redflag database to disarm MAGA. Communism.”

Former U.S. Army Ranger and current firearms attorney Ryan Cleckner called red flag laws “horrible” in a post on X, in which he shared a graphic titled “How Red Flag Laws Kill Peaceable People,” showing how heavy-handed implementation of such laws can lead to tragic outcomes.

The graphic, developed by the Firearms Policy Coalition, shows a hypothetical set of events starting from a gun owner named “Randy” posting a harmless photo of himself and his son at a gun range, triggering “Karen” who after seeing the post calls local state agents to report “suspicions that Randy might be a risk to the community.”

Then “biased state agents” use red flag powers to claim that Randy is a dangerous threat, raising the matter with a local court, which determines it’s acceptable to confiscate Randy’s guns, leading to a middle-of-the-night police raid that ends tragically.

“Randy is awakened at 3 am by loud crashing noises, flash bangs, and death threats while his wife and son scream in terror,” a caption in the graphic reads.

“Randy is murdered while instinctively trying to protect his family,” it continues.

The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) has alleged that red flag laws can easily be abused by biased officials.

“Aside from allowing run-of-the-mill malicious actors to indulge personal grudges against law-abiding gun owners, in the current politically-charged environment these laws enable the government to target those with First Amendment-protected political views the government disfavors,” the group wrote in a note.

By contrast, the Biden administration has been a vocal advocate of tighter gun control legislation, including red flag laws, as well as centralized efforts in this regard.

For instance, President Joe Biden in September 2021 announced the creation of a White House office of “gun violence” prevention to “centralize, accelerate, and intensify” the administration’s efforts to reduce acts of violence carried out with the use of firearms.

Vice President Harris heads the Gun Violence Prevention Office.

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