The Second Amendment Foundation announced Thursday it is preparing to launch a new project nicknamed “Capture the Flag,” because this legal effort will target so-called “Red Flag” laws, which concern gun owners over their potential abuse.
The announcement comes two days after SAF and one of its members living in Maryland filed a lawsuit in that state, alleging the law has been weaponized against the plaintiff, Donald S. Willey, in Dorchester County.
In announcing the project, SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut—who is a practicing civil rights attorney—explained, “SAF’s ‘Capture the Flag’ initiative looks to challenge these laws that deprive individuals of their right to keep and bear arms, where appropriate, based on evidentiary standards that are constitutionally impermissible.”
SAF and Willey are represented in their lawsuit by attorneys Edward Andrew Paltzik and Serge Krimnus of the Bochner PLLC law firm in New York City.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division. Defendants are Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown, Dorchester County, Dorchester County Planning and Zoning Director Susan E. Webb, and Dorchester County Sheriff James W. Phillips. All three are sued in their official capacities, and Webb is also being sued personally.
“SAF has been concerned about these statutes since they first started showing up,” noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb.
He said the laws, known formally as “Extreme Risk Protection Orders” or “ERPOs,” are ripe for abuse, especially in cases like Willey’s, where a dispute arises between a homeowner or landowner and a public official.
“All of these laws should raise alarms because they prioritize citizen disarmament ahead of due process, and that can easily lead to deprivation of rights under color of law,” Gottlieb said.
“Red flag laws are based on the inherently Orwellian belief that you can take actions against someone for an alleged crime that hasn’t occurred,” Kraut noted in a prepared statement. “Such laws authorize seizure and punishment for a crime nobody committed but which could occur at some place and time in the future. This may work in a science fiction movie, but should not be allowed in real life.”
Kraut was alluding to the 2002 film “Minority Report” starring Tom Cruise. The plot involved a futuristic police force whose job was to arrest criminals prior to when they commit a crime.
Today, 21 states and the District of Columbia have enacted “Red Flag” laws, but SAF has identified six states, including Maryland, that are being watched for possible violations. The other five are California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington.
According to their news release, SAF is encouraging individuals residing in California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, or Washington that have been subject to a baseless, groundless and unsubstantiated ERPO to contact the organization by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with information regarding the circumstances surrounding the petition, order, and outcome.