By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) As Congress and President Donald Trump come under increased pressure to enact new legislation following a rash of mass shootings, one noted gun crime expert says two of the most of popular proposals being discussed — universal background checks and national “red flag” legislation — are a “false promise” to the American people to reduce such incidents.
During in interview with NewsMax TV this week, Dr. John Lott, author of “More Guns, Less Crime” and president of the Crime Research Center, said universal background checks, in particular, would do nothing to stop mass shootings and would even prevent innocent people from being able to obtain a firearm for self-defense.
“I understand they want to do something to stop these mass shootings,” Lott said. “I just wish they would do something that was in someway related to these mass public shootings.”
He noted that nine 2020 Democratic presidential candidates appeared this week on a gun forum town hall sponsored by CNN to discuss the shootings, and all of them supported background checks for private gun transactions, the purpose behind a universal background check bill.
“I wish [the media] would go and say, ‘Well, okay, can you point to one mass shooting this century that would have been stopped, even assuming that it was perfectly enforced, that would have stopped it.’ And they can’t” point to a single one, Lott said.
In a separate interview with radio conservative host Mark Levin, Lott said that the term “assault weapon” was fabricated about 35 years ago, around the time of the first ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons during the Clinton administration, and did nothing to impact gun crimes.
As for red flag laws, which empower police to confiscate firearms from people deemed by a court to be a threat, “have virtually nothing to do with mental health,” Lott said.
“There are 17 states that have this law now, and only one of them mentions the term ‘mental health’ in it,” he added. “The basic notion is [authorities] try to predict whether somebody will commit a crime or harm themselves.”
Lott said his organization conducted research into state-managed red flag laws in part by bringing in officials who ran them to ask what they looked for when deciding who should be considered dangerous and eligible for gun confiscation.
“It was kind of scary,” Lott noted, adding that officials said they would look for factors like age, past criminal record, the sex of the suspect, and other factors, though race was not a consideration.
He also said that states already have all the laws on the books to deal with potentially dangerous persons, including one known as the Baker Act. That allows authorities to commit a person involuntarily for a 72-hour mental health evaluation if they believe that person is dangerous or could harm himself or herself.
But, “what they want to try to do with red flag laws is to get rid of some of the restrictions that exist,” Lott explained. “With the Baker Act, you have a psychiatric professional evaluate the person and make a decision. Under red flag laws, there are no psychiatric experts that are involved.”
He said such laws involve a “two-stage” process involving a complaint — the origins of which vary from state to state — that is put before a judge who knows nothing about the person other than what he or she has been provided by police.
If the order to confiscate firearms is issued, the targeted person’s guns are collected by police and the person must wait anywhere from two weeks to a month for a hearing before the court, which then determines whether the person is mentally fit to have guns returned.
As Lott notes, however, the process occurs without any legal representation for the targeted person and without him or her being able to present their case and witnesses, which some legal experts have said is a gross violation of the Constitution’s due process requirements, as well as the Second Amendment.
President Trump last week indicated some support for legislation crafted by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) that would serve as a an economic incentive for remaining states to pass red flag laws, among other provisions.
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