One of the nation’s best-known advocates for the Second Amendment is warning of a new push for “star chamber” courtroom proceedings in which a prosecutor and a judge could decide to withdraw constitutional rights from individuals merely because someone claims they are a danger.
Moves toward gun control have come up after almost every major mass shooting in recent years. But such “star chamber” plans have not been widespread.
One reason is that there already are procedures to take guns away from someone who, given due process, is determined to be a danger to others.
But the advocacy group Gun Owners of America is warning the newest push is a danger.
The move is described by Michael Hammond, the group’s legislative counsel, as “probably the single biggest LEGISLATIVE threat to the Second Amendment.”
“These Gun Confiscation Orders would allow police or angry relatives to convene a secret star-chamber proceeding and get permission to ransack your house and seize your guns without any due process whatsoever,” he said. “And if you resist, they are authorized to arrest, or even shoot, you and your family.”
He said Second Amendment opponents are trying to call the plans “red-flag laws” or “extreme violence protective orders.”
“Gun Confiscation Orders gained traction in California and the Left Coast as the most recent, and most extreme, form of gun control,” he said. “Although the various proposals differ in details, they all follow a pattern.
“Police or an angry relative can convene an Orwellian SECRET hearing to secure an order to confiscate your guns,” he said.
“You won’t get a trial by jury before your guns are taken – or a trial of any sort, for that matter. You won’t even be able to get your attorney before the judge. The accuser will be the ONLY ONE in the room. And so the court is almost always going to issue the confiscation order.”
He noted such a program already is being used in Seattle, and only one request ever was denied there.
Afterward, he said, “you will theoretically have the ‘right’ to spend $10,000 to try to convince a court it made a mistake.”
While “anti-gun leftists see an opportunity to finally ‘move the needle’ on gun control, and they are not going let this opportunity slip away,” her said, there are others who are opposing the program, raising questions about due process and other issues.
What about Nikolas Cruz, the shooter in Parkland, Florida? Wouldn’t Gun Confiscation Orders have stopped him?
No, explains Hammond.
“School disciplinary officials and police came in contact with him almost a hundred times. Dozens of times, they could have charged him with a felony and taken away his guns under 18 U.S.C. 922(d). They didn’t because of an Obama-era policy coddling young felons. … Every time, officials found him a ‘low risk,’ which would have meant no Gun Confiscation Order.”
Such orders won’t affect criminals, who likely would still get around confiscation orders.
“But law-abiding gun owners like you will now have to sue in court – spending thousands upon thousands of dollars – to get your guns back because they’ve been confiscated without due process,” he said.