WHITON: Republicans Should Oppose ‘Red Flag’ Gun Confiscation

REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Christian Whiton Christian Whiton was a senior adviser in the Donald Trump and George W. Bush administrations. He is a senior fellow at the Center for the National Interest.
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Republican politicians who are thinking of supporting “red flag” legislation, which would allow the government to take guns from citizens who have committed no crimes, had better think twice. Giving in to the mob could pave the way for abuse and lead to serious electoral setbacks. 

It’s become a matter of course for Democrats to react to mass shootings with emotional, hysterical demands to curtail the rights of 330 million American citizens to keep and bear arms. “Never let a crisis go to waste” is the unwritten Democratic mantra. Indeed, what better time to undermine the Bill of Rights that has kept America free for a quarter of a millennium, especially gun rights that help protect us from mob rule and oppressive government. 

What is less expected is when some among the ranks of Republicans and the ever-dwindling number of moderate Democrats who profess at election time care about individual rights jump on the bandwagon. But such is the case with the growing flirtation with “red flag” laws that allow the government to take away the right of a citizen to possess arms even if he or she has done nothing illegal. 

Of course, Democrats pinky swear that depriving someone of rights will only be done in the most extreme of circumstances, such as when someone is believed to be on the brink of a mass shooting. But anyone who believes this limitation will last hasn’t been paying attention to our politics and our culture for the past several years. 

These laws could be used to disarm and therefore disempower those who hold political views that are deemed unfit by the mob. Just take a look at past and present Democratic candidates for president. It is no longer sufficient to say they merely disagree with their opponents. Instead, they label them as racist or otherwise seek to render them illegitimate and deserving of silencing. Hillary Clinton famously labeled Americans who failed to support her as “deplorables” in a rare moment of candor. 

Meanwhile, “Big Tech” outlets such as Twitter and YouTube censor an increasing range of what George Orwell’s literary characters labeled “thoughtcrime” — ideas and expressions that are politically forbidden and subject to suppression. 

Given this fanaticism — this desire not to out-debate their opposition, but to crush it—does anyone doubt that mere conservative expression could soon be grounds for taking away someone’s gun rights when the decision is left to progressive bureaucrats? Write something that they deem “offensive” or “racist,” which to them is just about anything with which they disagree, and that could be the “red flag” needed to take away your rights. 

Those who own guns understand that doing anything with them except storing them clandestinely at home could be used to take them away.

In May, a Florida college student was suspended indefinitely for posting on social media a picture of herself lawfully holding a pistol at a shooting range. In April, two New Jersey high school students were suspended and had their reputations smeared for posting a picture of guns on Snapchat while off campus, commenting playfully about their usefulness in a zombie apocalypse. In 2014, bureaucrats in Ohio suspended a 10-year-old boy from school for simply making his fingers into the shape of a gun while goofing off. Are these the type of people we want to empower further to control our rights based on what they consider to be a “red flag”?

The minority of Republicans flirting with these laws seem to believe that something must be done. Why not this seemingly modest step? 

They ought to fight back against the mob instead. There may not be a legislative solution to this problem. What may be required is a cultural solution. Indeed, the basic factor in every mass shooting is a grotesque nihilism — a total rejection of life, goodness, and God — that stems from something unrelated to the guns that have been present throughout America’s history. Some say suicide is the ultimate form of self-absorption, but mass shooters are the ones who have achieved the zenith of this vice. This cultural sickness cannot be legislated out of existence. 

Democrats, with their implicit belief that man can be perfected (progressed) through laws, technology, and big government, reject this premise. But conservatives and Republicans who profess to understand human nature and govern accordingly should know better. They should know that evil, which is an indelible feature of mankind, can be managed and suppressed but never eliminated. Why give bureaucrats the capability to render powerless those who fight evil? 

Most Republicans and moderate Democrats were elected to stand up for our rights, not help the government pave the way for tyranny because the mob is in a frenzy. The job now is not to run for cover, but to attack the atheist, nihilistic segment of society at the heart of our problems.

Christian Whiton (@ChristianWhiton) was a State Department senior adviser in the Donald J. Trump and George W. Bush administrations. He is a senior fellow at the Center for the National Interest and is the author of “Smart Power: Between Diplomacy and War.”

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.