Throughout the year, I have been in dialogue with U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., and his office to discuss extreme risk protection orders, commonly known as red flag laws. He opposed the bill, citing a citizen’s constitutional right to liberty and due process. However, the ERPO bill does protect a citizen’s right to due process similarly to the existing civil commitment law in Virginia. An individual that is unable to commit themselves to a mental hospital when they are a danger to themselves or others can be detained for 48 hours before a hearing. This is similar to the confiscation of a firearm that causes a threat under the ERPO bill. In fact, isn’t the detainment of one’s person a worse infringement on their liberty? When a firearm is detained, one’s person is free, but when one’s person is detained, that is the ultimate infringement on liberty. Furthermore, the law has to keep in mind a balance of interests. If someone yells “fire” in a crowded movie theater, the law balances the interest of the person wanting to shout “fire” and the people in the movie theater who are in danger of being trampled in a panic. In the case of ERPOs, the law balances the interest of a person wanting to have a gun and the interest of a person wanting to keep their life who is threatened by that gun. The victims of gun violence have a right to life and liberty. With the recent rise in gun sales during this pandemic, Rep. Morgan Griffith has a responsibility to ensure that people are protected from gun violence as everyone is stuck at home. The Virginia governor just signed a red flag bill into law. I hope that Rep. Griffith will follow that example on the federal level.

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