States Are Depriving Innocent People
of Their Second Amendment Rights

Red Flag

By Jacob Sullum. From the November 2019 issue

Shortly after 5 a.m. on November 5, 2018, two police officers arrived at Gary Willis' house in Glen Burnie, Maryland. They were there to take away his guns. They ended up killing him instead.

According to the Anne Arundel County Police Department, the 61-year-old man, who at that hour presumably had just been awakened by the officers' knocking, answered the door with a gun in his hand. He put it down when he saw who was there. Upon learning that the two officers had come to serve him with an "extreme risk protective order" (ERPO) that barred him from possessing firearms, police said, Willis became "irate" and picked up the weapon again. As one officer tried to wrestle the gun away from Willis, it went off, whereupon the other officer shot him.

Police Chief Timothy Altomare subsequently argued that the incident illustrated the need for Maryland's ERPO law, which had taken effect barely a month before. "If you look at this morning's outcome," he told the Annapolis Capital, a newspaper whose headquarters had been the site of a mass shooting the previous June, "it's tough for us to say 'Well, what did we prevent?' Because we don't know what we prevented or could've prevented. What would've happened if we didn't go there at 5 a.m.?"

Well, for one thing, Gary Willis probably would still be alive. .....

(The full article is also archived on JPFO.)

The potential within the 'Red Flag" approach for dangerous mistakes should be obvious for numerous reasons. 'Mentally Ill' is all too easily applied to anyone just because they happen to be 'down' at the time, and then also what about who defines 'significant risk' with any specific case. 'Big Brother' is alive and well while 'due process' is dying.


Back to Top