Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) on Wednesday slammed the Democrats’ push for Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), commonly referred to as “Red Flag laws.” According to the senator, Red Flag laws lack due process for a constitutionally-protected right and are proven to be ineffective in stopping mass shootings and suicides.
“I care deeply about stopping violent crime. And gun crime in particular. I’ve spent much of my adult life in law enforcement trying to stop violent criminals who prey upon the innocent and working to ensure that they receive the most stringent punishment,” Cruz said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Red Flag laws. “But one thing is abundantly clear: if the objective is to stop violent crime, restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens doesn’t work. In fact, it typically makes crime worse because when you disarm law-abiding citizens you make them more likely to be victims.”
The senator has repeatedly said Red Flag laws are dangerous, but believes states should look at this legislation on an individual basis.
“[States] are the proper place to debate the substance of Red Flag laws. We shouldn’t be imposing a federal standard or putting the federal government’s very heavy thumb on the scale with coercive grant programs, especially when 19 states and the District of Columbia are already experimenting with these laws. But I also said, and continue to believe, that even at the state level, laws must be narrowly targeted to those who pose an extreme risk while simultaneously giving full force to the fundamental rights of all law-abiding Americans,” he explained. “Many of the state laws that have been implemented fall short of this standard in one or more ways, and none of the Democrats’ current proposals come close to meeting it. Rather than taking a measured and respectful approach, radical gun control advocates see Red Flag laws as a way to open the door to comprehensive gun control.”
Cruz reminded Americans that just last week, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), one of the people behind Connecticut’s Red Flag laws, admitted on CNN that ERPOs are only one part of Democrats’ gun control agenda.
“The fact is, Democrats don’t want Americans to own guns,” Cruz said, later adding: “They’re not hiding it. So it’s no surprise that this administration and the Democrats in Congress and anti-gun groups are all pushing Red Flag laws. That will take guns from law-abiding Americans.”
“In Connecticut, for example, 32% of confiscation orders are overturned when a judge finally hears both sides of the story, and this is after the government has already seized the firearm,” the senator explained. “This means that one out of every three people who has his or her firearm seized by the government under Connecticut’s Red Flag law is an innocent, law-abiding citizen. That is an unacceptable rate of protecting constitutional rights.”
The overarching problem with Red Flag laws, according to Cruz, is the lack of due process.
“One reason that the error rate is so high is that most of these laws don’t even purport to satisfy due process. Every Red Flag law currently in operation permits the government to order the confiscation of firearms without notice to the individual and a hearing only to follow at some later time. Ex-parte hearings may be necessary in some extreme cases, but they shouldn’t be the default standard,” he said.
“Moreover, in many states, the word of a spurned romantic partner or disgruntled coworker is sufficient to meet the watered-down standard for unilateral, albeit temporary, deprivation of Second Amendment rights. Put simply, Red Flag laws empower the government to take firearms first and ask questions later. Often much, much later,” the senator continued. “No one would tolerate these procedures to deprive Americans of any of their other fundamental constitutional rights. But Democrats don’t care that law-abiding Americans lose their rights under these laws because they don’t believe in the Second Amendment and the right to self-defense.”
Although Democrats continually assert the Second Amendment is about hunting, Cruz reminded them it’s about the right to self-defense.
“The Second Amendment is not about hunting. It’s not about recreational shooting. It is about the fundamental right to protect our lives, to protect our homes, to protect our families,” he explained. “It’s about the right we have if somebody comes into our home at night seeking to harm our children, to defend our children and to defend our lives.”
“The Red Flag laws being pushed by Democrats and gun control activists are designed to deprive Americans of that fundamental right. And for what?” he asked, pointing to a previous witness who said that data shows Red Flag laws do not prevent mass shootings or suicides.
Sen. Ted Cruz: "The Second Amendment is not about hunting. It's not about recreational shooting. It is about the fundamental right to protect our lives, to protect our homes, to protect our families." pic.twitter.com/qeVaZhb7up
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) April 28, 2021
In most states with Red Flag laws, a doctor, law enforcement officer, partner, or coworker can petition a court to take away a person’s firearms if they believe the person is a threat to themselves or others.