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Dan Crenshaw and the risk of precognitive law enforcement



Dan Crenshaw and the risk of precognitive law enforcement

Emotions always run high after mass shootings. When there are three in a week, two happening on back-to-back weekend days, it’s certain to drive people towards an emotional response when their standard senses would normally tell them the knee-jerk “solution” being proposed is wrong. Such is (hopefully) the case with, as my colleague dubbed him, “conservative darling” Dan Crenshaw, the war hero and Republican Congressman from Texas.

Politicians are wont to appease their constituents, but there are many challenges with what he’s proposing as mass shooting solutions. Both the TAPS Act and red-flag gun laws (or as a different colleague calls them, Gun Confiscation SWATing) share a common Constitutional challenge and logical fallacy. Both require law enforcement to act on crimes that haven’t been committed yet. They require us to give law enforcement, doctors, psychologists, relatives, and other people rights to take our property or confine us because our activities may or may not be indicative of someone who is about to commit a crime.

Here are three reasons this knee-jerk reaction is nowhere near the right approach, even following three mass shootings. In fact, the false sense of security these pieces of legislation create should make this time immediately following mass shootings the worst time to talk about them. It requires a sober mind looking at facts in order to see how bad these types of laws would be.

More problems

There are currently more ERPOs (Extreme Risk Protection Orders) pending in states that have had red flag gun laws in place for more than a year than there have been gun deaths in those states. By all counts, the number of firearm-related deaths should have gone down dramatically as a result. Unfortunately, they haven’t. They’ve increased in Maryland since red flag gun laws were put in place. Elsewhere, the numbers are still pending but there have been no indications that the number of deaths dropping.

So, we have a bunch of people who are, to date, law abiding citizens who have had their 2nd Amendment rights stripped, but there hasn’t been a positive change in the number of gun deaths as a result.

This was, of course, predictable and even warned about, but proponents of red flag gun laws, especially among Republicans, swear by them. This is a ruse; the notion is if we blame mental illness instead of guns, then red flag gun laws are the solution. It allows politicians to act without harming their precious NRA score. But it’s nothing more than a political placebo.

More victims

Gary J. Willis was considered by a family member, a judge, and law enforcement to be a threat. He is now dead, not because he committed a crime but because someone thought he might commit a crime. He did nothing to rescind his 2nd Amendment right, but he was killed for trying to prevent others from infringing.

And it was all legal.

There is a higher chance that someone will be a victim of red flag gun laws than someone actually being saved by them.

Less rights

The 5th and 14th Amendments protects our right to due process. That means we have the right to defend ourselves in a court of law before our property is taken from us.  Red flag gun laws deny this right to any of its victims.

But let’s take it a step or two further. What happens when the notion of behavioral law enforcement moves beyond red flag gun laws? They will. Once you open up that particular Pandora’s Box, it will be a free-for-all with precognitive law enforcement. Big data will be the real indicator of when people are about to commit a crime. They’ll use our social media posts to find indications that we may be patriots. They’ll put a red flag on anyone who visits 4chan, 8chan, or r/The_Donald on Reddit. They’ll track our moves to see how often we’re going to the gun range, how many rounds of ammunition we’re buying, and which “right-wing extremist” we’re listening to in the car.

These proposals are a step away from liberty and a step towards the authoritarian police state we’ve read about in dystopian novels. And for what? A solution that won’t even work.

There is absolutely no way to determine if red flag gun laws or the TAPS Act would have stopped these mass shootings. What we know about the assailants tells us these laws wouldn’t have worked. Rep. Crenshaw, please reconsider this stance.

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