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A Lesson About Red Flag Laws And Confiscation

There was a news story last week that contains an important lesson about “red flag laws” and threats of firearms confiscation. The story wasn’t about RFLs but it still should be noted for what it reveals.

Gamer sentenced to 15 months in federal prison in deadly ‘swatting’ case

An Ohio gamer who recruited a prankster to make a fake emergency call, known as “swatting,” that led to the fatal shooting of a Kansas man by police was sentenced to 15 months in prison on Friday, prosecutors announced.
The case originated with a $1.50 bet between Viner and “Call of Duty: WWII” opponent Shane Gaskill of Wichita, Kan. Gaskill refused to pay up, and police said Viner asked Tyler Barriss, 26, to “swat” Gaskill. Barriss called the police in Kansas from his home in Los Angeles to give a false report of a fake shooting and kidnapping at a Wichita address assumed to be Gaskill’s.

Gaskill and his family previously lived at that address but were evicted in 2016. A SWAT team showed up at the house, which at this point belonged to 28-year-old Andrew Finch. The officers believed they were dealing with a man who had shot his own father and was holding family members hostage. An officer shot and killed Finch, and his family members have sued the Wichita police. Police said they believed Finch had been reaching for a gun as he lowered his hand near his waistband. The local district attorney declined to charge the officer.

On the surface this is a story about a gamer being stupid and his stupidity having lethal consequences. A couple of gamers got into a squabble over $1.50 and a third party called in a fake police report to a home where one of the gamers used to live. Cops showed up to the house, the owner came out and the cops shot him.

So what does this have to do with RFLs and confiscation? What happened in this case is that cops went into a situation believing there was an armed man in the house. Understandably they were on a very heightened alert level, as would anyone. In a situation like this, they are more likely to interpret a movement to be something threatening, like reaching for a gun. I don’t know if the guy that was shot, Andrew Finch, was reaching for a gun or even had a gun. Based on the lack of reporting about it, I assume he didn’t. He allegedly heard a noise as the cops were getting into position, opened the front door and in the confusion was shot by an officer. In an interesting twist, Andrew Finch was shot with an AR-15, which we aren’t supposed to be allowed to own because they can be misused but cops apparently can misuse with impunity.

When cops encounter someone they are pretty certain is armed, it changes the dynamic. They are scared, understandably, and they are on a heightened alert and (I assume since I am not a cop) more ready to pull the trigger. No one wants to wait a second too long to open fire because that can mean you don’t go home that night. If the gamers had called in a domestic dispute, the cops would have shown up and been ready for trouble but when you say there is someone armed who has already killed someone, their “shoot/don’t shoot” meter is already pegged on the “shoot” setting. Showing up when someone is armed means the odds of that person getting shot by the cops goes way up. We’ve had the cops show up at our place when our horses or cattle were loose (which used to happen at an embarrassingly frequent rate 😳) and it is usually just a very casual “Your horses are by the road” conversation. The same sheriff showing up because there is a report of someone menacing passing motorists with a rifle? Not so casual.

That brings us to RFLs and confiscation. When the cops show up to seize someone’s guns, there is already the problem of them knowing for sure that the person has guns. In an RFL situation, especially assuming the person being flagged is unaware of the proceedings, the assumption is also that the person involved is mentally unstable. And armed. So that doesn’t sound like a recipe for someone getting shot or anything. If I was a cop being ordered to go knock on the door of someone who is having their guns seized because they are a dangerously unstable person, you can bet I am ready for trouble. Any false move can mean a dead gun owner.

The same is true for confiscation. “Beto” Robert Francis “Hell Yeah” O’Rourke notwithstanding, gun owners are not going to turn in their firearms. The response to “buy backs” in places like Australia and New Zealand have been tepid and those countries don’t have the same gun ownership culture that we do. A mandatory “buy back” here is going to be largely met with a middle finger and non-compliance which leaves the government in a predicament. There are two options:

A) Ignore the tens of millions of non-compliant gun owners and only arrest them for non-compliance when you bust them for something else.

B) Conduct house to house raids using a list from background checks, which is going to lead to dead civilians and dead cops.

There are people on the Left who love the idea of the second option. They hate armed citizens and they hate cops, so seeing us kill each other will give them their jollies. Perhaps seeing a dozen dead civilians will encourage the rest to give up their guns out of fear. The Left loves intimidation through terror. Either way, option B means sending armed and body-armored cops to homes where the resident is assumed to have a rifle likely loaded with full metal jacket rounds that can punch through a lot of body armor and helmets. Just like the cops showing up at the “swatting” incident, they are ready for and expecting trouble and not coincidentally when the cops show up expecting trouble, they usually find it.

Cops already have a tough job so intentionally putting them in situations where they are more likely to use lethal force or get themselves shot is not going to reduce gun violence, it is going to increase it. What is more, as everyone already knows, taking semi-auto rifles out of the hands of law abiding citizens isn’t going to reduce gun violence anyway. Gun violence, specifically homicide, is largely carried out by a small segment of the population already involved in criminal activity and involves handguns that are typically purchased illegally outside of the legal process.

It is just a matter of time before “swatting” or misusing “red flag” laws is turned into a tool by the Left to assassinate by cop or simply intimidate political malcontents into silence. The cops already have their hands full with dealing with real criminals. Increasing the number of situations where the likelihood of lethal force is much higher obviously is counter-productive. Don’t be fooled into thinking these laws will help, they only serve one purpose: disarming the American people.


  1. John Wilder

    Ever more trivial reasons will be used to pull weapons from peaceful, law abiding citizens while attempting to get guns out of the hands of criminals will be denounced as . . . oh, wait, criminals having guns is the natural order, and needed to scare up votes.

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