Whistling in the wind
Despite Indiana’s so-called “red flag” law, the 19-year-old gunman who killed eight workers and himself at an Indianapolis FedEx center was able to legally buy the two rifles used in the attack even after his mother last year reported concerns he might commit “suicide by cop.”
The FBI at the time seized a shotgun from his home and it was not returned. The rifles were purchased legally a few months later.
Indiana has had a red flag law since 2005 allowing police or courts to seize guns from those who show warning signs of violence. It enacted its law after an Indianapolis police officer was killed by a man whose firearms had to be returned despite his hospitalization months earlier for an emergency mental health evaluation.
The law is intended to prevent people from purchasing or possessing a firearm if they are found by a judge to present “an imminent risk” to themselves or others.
Such laws often are roundly, and justifiably, criticized because they too often lack constitutional safeguards for those accused of being a danger.
Under Indiana’s red flag law, authorities have two weeks after confiscating a weapon to persuade a judge the person is unstable and should be barred from gun ownership over a period of time. It is unclear in the Indiana case whether the shooter, Brandon Hole, ever had such a hearing.
His case, though, underscores the major flaw in the anti-gun Left’s argument to control, then seize, Americans’ firearms. Their draconian measures simply to not work to prevent mass shootings.
What might work is diligent enforcement of current law and finding a constitutional way of sharing with the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System mental health records of anybody seeking to buy a gun. Many states and other entities, such as health plans, health care clearinghouses and health care providers, refuse to share such information with NICS because of privacy provisions in the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Federal law, by the way, cannot require a state to disclose mental health records to NICS.
Until that information can be constitutionally and safely shared, red flag laws and the rest amount to little more than whistling in the wind.