ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
In a surprise turn of events last week, Tennessee State Senator Steve Dickerson (R) wrote a guest column for the Tennessean where he outlined his desire for a state level "Red Flag Law." For those who are not aware of this term, a Red Flag Law allows your friends or family to "flag" you a threat to yourself or others and, thus, temporarily remove firearms from your possession until you are cleared.
Now, there are numerous other states who have variations of this already in place, with varying degrees of success. Typically, the notification of the threat goes before a judge to determine if the person is a realistic threat prior to authorizing the police to come search your home and confiscate. Fire arms are collected and held for a pre-determined time frame at which time the accused will have had to prove that they are mentally stable and no longer a threat.
The downsides to such a law are many. Imagine the father/husband/son wearing body armor and rushing into an apartment to confiscate a gun from a crazy person? There have already been a few citizens killed during one of these confiscations; how long until the casualties turn blue? Also, let's say you are a reasonable person who posses no threat, but an acquaintance turns you in. How much will you be out trying to prove you are not a threat? You'll be stressed and frazzled trying to meet with a psychologist to convince them that you aren't a threat. And I won't even get into how such a system could be used maliciously to cause strife for an adversary. I could get the prime duck blind if Joe didn't have a shotgun this season...and he did say he would hurt someone if they messed with his daughter...
This law it violates the presumption of innocence. How does a presumption of guilty until proven innocent hold up when no crime as been committed? The 5th Amendment allows you to not be a witness against yourself; will remaining silent help your case or hurt it? The 6th Amendment guarantees a speedy trial, but for a crime that was never committed. Are we now prosecuting "pre-crime?"
These kinds of laws are exactly what the NRA members (who could be deemed crazy by some merely by association) speak about when they say the government/law is "coming to take your guns." Do we want to make them right?