In the wake of the Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas, shootings, elected officials on both sides of the political aisle are rallying around “red flag” legislation.
Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), informally known as red flag laws, are gaining traction in legislatures nationwide. Red flag laws are presented as a common-sense proposal to disarm people who allegedly present a danger to themselves or others around them.
Political leaders assure gun owners red flag laws won’t trample over civil liberties and are a middle ground solution that appease pro-gunners and gun controllers alike. But the devil is in the details when dealing with any form of government intervention.
In Gunpowder Magazine, Ted Patterson details the potential dangers of “red flag” laws. Three points stick out the most:
1. Due process rights are put on the chopping block.
Anti-gun family members, friends, or acquaintances can levy dubious accusations to justify the confiscation of law-abiding gun owners’ guns. They can take these accusations to a court of law, even if the individual in question was not charged or convicted of a crime. In turn, due process rights are turned upside down, as gun owners are presumed to be guilty and must then prove their innocence.
2. Indefinite time frames for gun confiscation.
The duration of ERPOs is unclear — which could end up being weeks, months, or even a year. Gun owners would then be forced to go to court multiple times just to win their Constitutional rights back.
3. Red Flag Laws have Bipartisan Support
What makes red flag laws even more dangerous is the bipartisan support they currently boast. It is no secret when both parties come together on legislative matters, nothing good can come out of it.
NH Already has Involuntary Admissions Laws for Psychiatric Observations for those who May Harm themselves or others
New Hampshire Hospital (NHH) provides inpatient psychiatric treatment to patients admitted on an involuntary basis through an emergency admissions process, a non-emergency court order, or on a limited voluntary basis, depending on the availability of facilities. Most admissions to NHH are through the Involuntary Emergency Admission (IEA) process (pursuant to NH state law, RSA 135-C:27-33).
NHH does not provide walk-in emergency or crisis services. Contact your local hospital Emergency Department or the local Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) serving your region of residence for an in-person evaluation.
Involuntary Emergency Admission (IEA)
The IEA process begins with a visit to a local hospital Emergency Department or CMHC, and the completion of an IEA Petition requesting admission to New Hampshire Hospital. The person being admitted must pose a likelihood of danger to self or others as a result of a mental health condition. The person who signs the petition is the "Petitioner." Other witnesses to the person's behavior may also describe those behaviors on the petition.
IEA Petition forms are available at local police departments, Community Mental Health Centers (CMHC), and hospital Emergency Departments. The Petitioner may bring the person to the local hospital Emergency Department or CMHC for evaluation, or ask the local Police Department for assistance in transporting the person. A Complaint and Prayer form can be completed, and if signed by a Justice of the Peace, will direct law enforcement officers to transport the person to the Emergency Department or CMHC.
A doctor at the Emergency Department or CMHC will perform a medical evaluation, and a psychiatrist or a mental health clinician will perform a psychiatric/mental health evaluation. The results of the evaluations must be included with the Petition.
If the doctor determines that an involuntary inpatient admission to NHH is appropriate, the Emergency Department will make arrangements with the NHH Admitting Department for the person to be transported to NHH. Because NHH has a limited bed capacity, the person may have to wait at the Emergency Department or CMHC until a bed at NHH becomes available.
Upon arrival at NHH, the person will be assigned a room in one of the acute psychiatric treatment units. The person will meet with an assigned mental health treatment team to discuss treatment options, and to develop a treatment plan. The treatment team includes a psychiatrist, primary nurse, social worker, mental health worker, rehabilitation specialists, and a medical doctor if needed. The patient's progress is monitored daily by the treatment team, and other treatment options are considered in light of the patient's progress. When the treatment team determines that the patient no longer poses a likelihood of danger to self or others and is stable [see RSA 135-C:27 IEA Criteria], the treatment team will discharge the patient from NHH back to their home, and arrange for follow-up treatment at the patient's local Community Mental Health Center.