Democratic presidential candidate and Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) has taken the concept of “red flag” gun confiscation laws a step further with a proposal to take guns away from white nationalists who might commit a hate crime.
According to a policy proposal on her campaign website Wednesday, Harris said she would work to “combat and disarm violent hate” from white supremacists by pushing for legislation to give courts the ability to issue “Domestic Terrorism Prevention Orders” to take away the guns of “a suspected terrorist or individual who may imminently perpetrate a hate crime.”
According to the statement, such orders “will allow certain individuals, including law enforcement officers and family members, to petition a federal court to temporarily restrict a person’s access to guns if they exhibit clear evidence of dangerousness.”
“We need to take action to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and stop violent, hate-fueled attacks before they happen,” Harris said in a statement. “By focusing on confronting these domestic terror threats, we can save lives.”
Wednesday’s proposal doesn’t, however, explain how peoples’ due process rights would be protected under such a law or what specific safeguards would be put in place to keep people from being stripped of their gun rights and property based on their viewpoints alone.
“What Harris is basically calling for is a way to punish people explicitly for holding unpopular opinions by taking their guns from them,” Tom Knighton says of the proposal at Bearing Arms. “While no one has sympathy with white nationalists, the problem is that we live in a world where everything is labeled racist, including the color of freaking robots. Anyone who has found themselves on the right politically has been called something ranging from racist to white nationalist sometime in the last decade at least.”
A recent policy trend for anti-gun states, “red flag” confiscation laws — under which courts can order guns taken away from people deemed to be a serious public safety risk and prevent them from buying guns — have gained more traction in national discussion following recent shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. President Donald Trump voiced his support for the policies in the wake of the massacres.
Proponents say the policies can disarm potential threats before they commit a mass shooting; opponents worry that they could easily result in due process and Second Amendment violations.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has sponsored legislation to encourage the passage of such laws, and recently responded to concerns about potential constitutional rights abuses by saying that “the Second Amendment is not a suicide pact.”
A January 2019 study from the Crime Prevention Research Center on the efficacy of existing “red flag” confiscation policies in four states found that the laws “had no significant effect on murder, suicide, the number of people killed in mass public shootings, robbery, aggravated assault, or burglary.”