Critics of “Red Flag” Laws Said They Would Be Abused, and so They Are

Jan.22, 2020
Bob Adelmann

From the beginning, critics of "red flag" laws have warned about their potential abuse by people seeking to harass, intimidate, and punish perceived enemies who legally own firearms without having to charge them with a crime. ERPOs (extreme risk protection orders) avoid the necessity of having to conform to the U.S. Constitution's 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments. These guarantee "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures … and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause." They further mandate that no person shall be "deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law."

Red flag laws have turned these guarantees on their heads, as explained by Raheem Williams. Writing for the Foundation of Economic Education, Williams noted:

Proponents of red flag laws argue due process is respected by allowing the deprived to appeal to the courts to reinstate their rights. However, this backward process would imply that the Second Amendment is a privilege, not a right. Furthermore, state agents finding cause for a warrant and subsequently seizing private property while denying access to a constitutional right seem to be a perfect setup for a kangaroo court system. There is a serious risk that citizens found guilty of nothing and charged with no crime will be paying expensive fees to petition the courts to restore what should be their constitutionally guaranteed rights. Such concerns aren't just wild superstitions.

Case in point: Susan Holmes, mother of Jeremy Holmes who was killed in self-defense by a police officer in 2017. Within days of Colorado's newly minted and illegal "red flag" becoming effective, she filed a petition to have the police officer's firearms forcibly removed. Holmes thought she could use the new law to punish him.

Seven days after filing the petition, Chief Judge Stephen Howard tossed it because Holmes lied on the form.

Back in 2017, Susan called the police because Jeremy was threatening to kill his brother. When Colorado State University (CSU) police officer Phillip Morris and his partner confronted Jeremy, they demanded that he put down the knife he was brandishing. The video from the body cam Morris was wearing is on YouTube (see Sources below).

In a span of less than two minutes, Morris demanded that Jeremy put down his knife more than 30 times. Jeremy can be heard in the background saying that he didn't want to live and asking the officers to shoot him. When Phillips started to replace his sidearm in its holster in order to access his Taser, Jeremy ran towards Phillips. Four rounds were fired by the officers, and Jeremy was dead.


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Ever since then, Susan Holmes has had a vendetta against police. She took advantage of Colorado's new "red flag" law to gain vengeance against Phillips. She had to lie to do it, and happily Judge Howard uncovered the lies and tossed her petition. Phillips remains active as an officer for CSU following a week of great uncertainty.

In order to skirt the requirements of the new law that "anyone with a child in common" can petition the court to have it order the removal of lawfully-owned firearms without being charged with a crime, Holmes declared on the petition that she and Phillips "had a child in common" - presumably Jeremy.

She expanded on the form, claiming that Morris "used his firearm to recklessly and violently threaten and kill 19-year-old Jeremy Holmes." She further added that Morris was "a credible threat of or the unlawful reckless use of a firearm … [that] there have [sic] been a pattern of acts or credible threats of violence by [Phillips] in the last year, including but not limited to acts or credible threats of violence against [him]self or others."

She reached still further, claiming in her petition against Phillips that it is "unknown but possible" that he might have been convicted of a domestic violence offense in the past, accusing him of "ongoing violence and aggression from 2013-2018."

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said that Holmes' petition had "zero merit," adding "I have not and will not be serving that petition, not because it's against a police officer, but because it is a fraud." His office is "actively investigating" the abuse of the law to determine what charges may be brought against Holmes.

When Holmes showed up for the hearing a week after she filed the petition, she provided no evidence and the petition was denied.

Red Flag laws are an open invitation to people like Susan Holmes to use them to harass their enemies without having to follow the Constitution. They are open to such abuse and they will continue to be.

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Sources:

Western Journal: Woman Abuses Red Flag Law, Lies About Innocent Man To Have His Guns Confiscated

YouTube showing police officer Phillip Morris' body cam video of the incident

New York Times: Judge Denies Gun Seizure of Colorado Officer's Guns

Washington Times: Judge denies gun seizure of Colorado officer's guns

Blue Lives Matter: Judge Tosses Woman's Red Flag Complaint Against Cop Who Shot Her Son

Coloradoan: Larimer County Judge denies Susan Holmes' red flag petition against CSU police officer

Coloradoan: Mother of man fatally shot by CSU, Fort Collins police files red flag case against officer

9News.com: Colorado's red flag law used to target officer involved in fatal shooting

Coloradoan: FAQ: Here's how Colorado's red flag law works

FEE.org: Red Flag Gun Laws Turn Due Process on Its Head

The New AmericanJudge Denies Red Flag Law Confiscation Request for First Time

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