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Judges are having to make difficult decisions in the 17 states and District of Columbia that have passed red flag laws authorizing the confiscation of guns from people deemed to be dangerous.
Judges are weighing the targets’ First Amendment right to make statements that generate concern and their Second Amendment right to gun possession, the New York Times reports.
In one instance, police in Redmond, Washington, obtained a temporary court order to seize guns from 23-year-old Charels Donnelly after finding troubling posts from him online, according to the Nov. 18 story.
In an October social media post, Donnelly was pictured with two AK-47-style rifles with a caption that read “one ticket for joker please,” a reference to the upcoming Joker movie and, perhaps, the 2012 shooting during a Batman movie that left 12 people dead.
Donnelly also talked about threatening his mother with a gun and shooting “any woman any time for any reason.” In one social media post he stated, “Prowling the Seattle streets for women to assault. No luck so far. Hopefully my urges will be satisfied soon.”
But Donnelly returned to court with a lawyer in October and testified that his posts were jokes, according to the New York Times. He said he was mocking the online “incel” community and its hatred of women.
Judge Averil Rothrock ordered that Donnelly’s guns be returned to him after ruling that the state didn’t meet its burden of showing that the “joker” post was more than a bad joke.
Alan Gottlieb, who founded the Second Amendment Foundation, said red flag laws should allow gun owners to object before their guns are seized. “You’re guilty until proven innocent,” he told the New York Times.
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