OK Gov. Kevin Stitt Will Keep Guns In Dangerous People’s Hands Over Your Dead Body
Last week, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt helped make gun violence great again when he signed the nation's first “anti-red flag law." Red-flag laws permit law enforcement to temporarily seize a gun (though there's always more than one) from someone who's a danger to themselves and others. Red-flag laws help cut down on domestic violence killings and mass shootings, if you're into that sort of thing. Stitt is apparently into defending FREEDOM and LIBERTY (exclamation point!). His "anti-red flag law" prevents any city in Oklahoma from "enacting policies that would allow a court or other entity to restrict gun access to people deemed to be an imminent" threat. We assume he's proud of himself.
The bill's sponsors are Republican state Senators Nathan Dahm and Jay Steagall, who eagerly represent the NRA's best interests. After recent mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, even some congressional Republicans were encouraging states to pass red-flag laws. Steagall, however, insists that this sensible gun legislation violates the Second Amendment's guarantee of regular school shootings.
STEAGALL: I find it impossible for any red-flag law to respect due process or the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. I have taken the oath to protect our Constitution seven times throughout my 22 years of service and nine deployments in the military, an oath that I take very seriously. I will not stand idly by and let this freedom be stripped from us.
Red flags do not — we repeat, do not — violate due process. A judge must determine if the person is a threat and grant an order allowing the cops to seize their guns. The Second Amendment is not more important than the Fourth Amendment, and judges issue warrants permitting searches and seizures every day. It's as if Steagall's never watched “Law & Order." What's happened to our education system?
Steagal further claimed that “all it takes is a mad neighbor or an upset relative to make a claim against a person and have their firearms taken away from them without any … due process." He doesn't consider why this hypothetical neighbor or relative is so “mad" or “upset" about someone with lots of guns.
Democratic Rep. Melissa Provenzano patiently explained why Steagall is stupid in the head.
PROVENZANO: It's right in the name — Extreme Risk Protective Order. You've got to get the order before you can get the gun from the individual. I don't think we should just show up and take peoples' guns either. There's a process here.
The “anti-red-flag law" is also redundant because Oklahoma already prohibits local governments from regulating firearms. Democratic state Sen. Julia Kirt calls it an "unnecessary and unconstitutional" measure.
Oklahoma's gun laws already earn an “F" from the Giffords Law Center. There are no background checks, no gun owner licensing and firearm registration, no bulk firearm restrictions, no waiting period, and no ammunition sale regulation. Despite all those good guys with guns, the state's rate of gun violence is only rising. An average of 589 Oklahomans die each year from guns; most of them are suicides, which red-flag laws are intended to help prevent.
We wondered how so many Americans could tolerate countless COVID-19 deaths, but the gun-obsessed have always been willing to accept preventable deaths as the price for their “way of life."
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).