Some Americans may have to pay a pretty penny to have their constitutional right to bear arms restored after a group of bipartisan senators introduced gun control legislation that does not include a government-provided lawyer, should a state enforce red flag laws.
The legislation, which the Senate voted to advance Tuesday night, reads in part “the right to be represented by counsel at no expense to the government.”
In simpler terms, individuals who have their firearm confiscated by officials under these red flag laws may have a lawyer, so long as they can afford to pay for it themselves.
“The requirement for a red flag law to receive funding includes a provision requiring legal representation for the accused but does not require the government to pay for it,” firearms expert and founder at The Reload Stephen Gutowski told the Daily Caller. (RELATED: Republicans, Independents Fear ‘Red Flag’ Laws Will Be Abused By Government, Poll)
The government only provides a lawyer in criminal cases but not civil cases, explained Sen. John Cornyn’s press secretary Natalie Yezbick. The language was explicitly included as states do not guarantee the right to an attorney in civil cases, Yezbick told the Daily Caller.
Drew Brandewie, director of communications for Cornyn, told the Daily Caller that including the aforementioned language is a way to ensure there is “rigorous due process” as not all states currently give individuals the right to a lawyer in civil cases.
Benjamin Hyun Sanderson of Gun Owners of America said the provision would “bankrupt” gun owners in a statement to the Daily Caller.
“Because these cases would be tried under a Civil Court, there is no right to counsel as found in criminal procedures. This would ensure that gun owners would be forced to hire a lawyer during a ‘Red Flag Law’ Gun Confiscation Trial,” Sanderson said. “This is an ultimatum forcing gun owners to either accept a guilty verdict and lose their 2nd Amendment Rights or go bankrupt from all the legal fees.”
“The inherent lack of due process should be appalling to all Americans.”
Individuals would not be forced under the legislation to hire an attorney, but the option would now be available.
The Senate voted 64-34 Tuesday to start debate on a bipartisan gun control package that includes $750 million to help states implement, in part, “extreme risk protection order programs,” also known as red flag laws. These laws allow a court to confiscate a firearm from an individual who is believed to pose a violent threat.
The laws have faced stark criticism with some, including Daily Caller co-founder and Fox News host Tucker Carlson calling them unconstitutional.
“If you can seize people’s guns without proving that they committed a crime why can’t you imprison them without proving that they committed a crime? If you can take their guns, why can’t you take their homes? Why can’t you empty their bank accounts?” Carlson asked.
He then cited the Supreme Court case of Canglia v. Strom, in which the court ruled seizing a citizen’s gun violates search and seizure rights protected under the Fourth Amendment. Carlson said the laws will be enforced through “political lines” and disproportionately affect those with the wrong political beliefs.
Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz said, “Republican Senators who voted to back Red Flag Laws are traitors to the Constitution and our country.”
Republican Senators who voted to back Red Flag Laws are traitors to the Constitution and our country. pic.twitter.com/x2KeB01RHm
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) June 22, 2022
The House Freedom Caucus said they oppose any legislation “that implements ‘red flag laws’ and other unconstitutional gun control provisions.”
OFFICIAL POSITION: The House Freedom Caucus opposes any legislation, including the Senate framework, that implements “red flag laws” and other unconstitutional gun control provisions.
Full statement: pic.twitter.com/zqQoTFPNoL
— House Freedom Caucus (@freedomcaucus) June 22, 2022