On Monday, second amendment advocates and a fair number of white supremacists, marched on Virgina’s capitol to protest a perceived infringement on their constitutional right to bear arms known as a Red Flag law, which allow courts to temporarily restrict an individuals right to possess firearms if they are found to be a danger to themselves or others.
In Mississippi, Senate Bill 2055 was introduced and, if passed, would become our state’s Red Flag law. Much like in Virginia, there is quite a bit of opposition to such a measure.
Opponents of Red Flag laws claim such measures are an infringement upon their guaranteed second amendment rights, and they’re absolutely correct. Taking away someone’s guns is a direct violation of their right to have guns.
But should that be the only consideration?
I was in fourth grade when the Columbine High School shooting took place. Since then, mass shootings have been carried out across the country in schools, theaters, churches, night clubs and on the streets. Hundreds have died, thousands injured, and countless lives have been destroyed by guns.
The National Rifle Association has consistently blamed mental illness, demonizing one of the most helpless demographics in our nation to suit their narrative and ignoring empirical data that disproves their accusations. Others have blamed easy access to guns, pointing out how easy it is for dangerous people to obtain firearms and calling for expanded background checks.
For much of my life, our political class has done nothing, content to yell at each other, express condolences and wait for the next dead kid, but we finally have some movement, some solution in Red Flag laws.
Let me be clear, Red Flag laws are a gross violation of our second amendment rights, and, as a gun owner myself, I am none too thrilled by the thought of giving the government authority to infringe upon my rights as a citizen.
However, Red Flag laws are the first attempt at a substantial solution to mass shootings I’ve seen after more than 20 years of listening to the taking heads shout at each other over the corpses of children, and if giving up my right to own a gun is what is needed to keep others alive, that is what needs to happen.
I don’t like Red Flag laws. I think they’re a half-baked solution that aims to pander to the anti-gun left while placating the gun lobby. I think they’re all but an invitation to exploitation by vindictive people and further stigmatize mental illness. But until we’re ready to truly confront the violence and hatred that so deeply permeates American culture, until our elected officials are willing to stand up for the people over the gun lobby and until we prioritize the wellbeing of our own citizens over our capability to kill those in other nations, maybe these types of indolent cop-outs are the best we’re able to do.
Thomas Howard is the managing editor of The Newton County Appeal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org