RALEIGH – It was rumored that a Democrat member of the North Carolina House of Representatives was prepared to introduce legislation to enable ‘Extreme Risk Protection Orders’ that would enable authorities to confiscate an individual’s firearms if they were deemed a threat to themselves or others.
It has now been filed. Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham) introduced House Bill 976 on Tuesday, satisfying the Left’s urge to “do something” in response to recent mass shootings. The problem is, that “something” always has a funny way of discounting the Individual Rights of citizens.
Under the proposal, ‘Extreme Risk Protection Orders’ (ERPO) would serve the purpose of reducing “gun deaths and injuries, while respecting constitutional rights, by providing a court procedure for concerned citizens and law enforcement to obtain an order temporarily restricting a person’s access to firearms.”
The bill may pay lip service to the constitution, but the provisions in the bill should raise a few eye brows.
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To obtain the order a petition must be filed by a family member, or law enforcement, that states the reasons they believe the person to be a danger, along with the number, types, and location of all firearms in the individual’s possession.
At that point a hearing would be held the same day, or the nearest judicial day, at which a judge or magistrate can unilaterally decide to issue an “ex parte” ERPO.
“Ex parte” means with respect to only one side. As in, the decision to confiscate an individual’s firearms is one decided by a judge without requiring all of the parties to the controversy to be present.
And the required information for the petition itself hinge on a person’s mere possession of guns:
“An allegation that the respondent poses a danger of physical harm to self or others BY HAVING in his or her care, custody, possession, ownership, or control a firearm. If the petitioner is seeking an ex parte ERPO, the petition shall include an allegation that the respondent poses an imminent danger of physical harm to self or others BY HAVING in his or her care, custody, possession, ownership, or control a firearm. The allegation required under this subdivision shall include facts to support the allegation.”
Again, those ex parte orders would only include “facts” from one side of the controversy, meaning that they may not be facts at all.
If the order was granted, and you failed to surrender your guns, then a warrant would be issued to come and take them. And then the sheriff would charge you a fee for storage.
All before an individual has the chance for a full hearing on the matter. If the full hearing actually clears the individual of the order, they then have to file a motion to get there guns back. The court gets 30 days to comply and give the guns back.
So someone with a grudge and one sided facts could feasibly, under this proposal, have your guns taken away without you even getting a say in the matter for 10 days. And when the full hearing finds out it is bogus, they have a full month to actually give the guns back, charging you fees all the while. 40 days of your rights being violated.
Should the full ERPO be granted, the legal recourse terminating it puts the burden of proof on the individual.
“Burden of Proof; Termination. – The respondent shall have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the respondent does not pose a danger of causing physical injury to self or others by having in his or her care, custody, possession, ownership, or control a firearm.”
That’s a pretty high bar to prove your innocence after a judge has already unilaterally decided you are a danger BECAUSE you own firearms.
This is typical of the Left and the views on your inalienable rights – they don’t view them as inalienable. They think a court can take them away arbitrarily, even before you get a chance to make your case.
The positive thing about this bill, though, is it has been moved to the House Rules Committee. That’s where unfavorable bills often go to die, which is good, because these Extreme Risk Protection Orders pose an extreme risk to Individual Rights.
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