U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz delivered a harsh message to Senate Republicans considering going along with Democrats on gun-control laws.
Only a “traitor” will work to abridge the Second Amendment by supporting “red flag” laws, the Fort Walton Beach Republican argued.
Gaetz made his remarks Thursday at the end of an emergency House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Democrats’ “Protect Our Kids Act.”
The Democrats seek to leverage recent tragedies in New York and Texas to ram through gun-control measures. The bill the committee considered Thursday, which the Democratic majority passed on a party-line vote, includes provisions such as banning “high capacity” magazines, bump stocks and so-called “ghost guns,” and raising the age limit from 18 to 21 for purchases of certain rifles and shotguns.
But another idea floating around is a national red-flag law, which would allow local law enforcement to seize guns of people considered a threat to themselves or others.
Former Gov. Rick Scott enacted such a law in Florida after the 2018 Parkland massacre. While Democrats support any opportunity to impose gun control, red flag laws have divided conservatives.
On one hand, such a law is supported by Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, a pro-gun Republican who believes red-flag laws have helped prevent gun violence by creating a “cooling off” period for people who may act rashly and irrationally.
On the other hand are conservatives like Gaetz, who believe red-flag laws give cover to gun-grabbers.
He made that point Thursday.
The congressman said he wanted his message to be “astonishingly clear”:
“If you back red flag laws as some reflexive response to some emotion that you have, you betray your voters. You are a traitor to the Constitution, the Second Amendment, (and) the Fifth Amendment.”
“You do nothing to make mass shootings less likely,” continued Gaetz, “and you put a target on the back of your constituents.”
Gaetz added that such a law subjects citizens to “bizarre proceedings” that are not seen in “any other type of circumstance,” yet which have a “profound impact on your rights.”
Gaetz warned that a red-flag law would likely be invoked against Senate Republicans themselves.
“This isn’t just about guns. It’s about power,” he said. “And what the Democrats want is to ensure that the government has the power to take your guns away without giving you due process.”
“Shame on any Republican in the Senate that would pave the way to that type of deprivation of our liberty and our constitutional rights.”