Last year Gary Willis of Ferndale, Maryland became the first known casualty of Red Flag Laws, as police entered his home at 5 a.m. with orders to confiscate his weapons due to a concerned family member.
Willis was killed in a 2018 altercation with police after they went to his home at 5 a.m. with permission to confiscate his guns. A distant family member had called the police to request they remove his firearms after an unspecified altercation at his home in the previous days, and the rest of his family was left shocked.
Willis, prepared to defend himself as someone knocked on his door in the early hours of the morning, went to the door with a weapon in hand. Upon discovering it was the police, he disregarded his gun, and spoke to them.
After learning they had what he believed an unconstitutional order to remove his firearms, Willis became irate, and a physical altercation ensued.
At some point in the altercation, a weapon was fired, though it is unknown whether it was Willis’s gun or a police officer’s.
It was at this point one of the police officers shot Willis, ending his life.
According to the spokesman, Willis put his firearm down to read the ERPO but then, apparently recognizing that it wasn’t a legal search warrant issued by a judge in accordance with protections guaranteed to him by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but instead was issued by a local judge under Maryland’s newly minted “red flag” law, he retrieved his firearm.
The spokesman said that Willis “became irate.” In the melee that followed, one of the firearms carried either by one of the officers or by Willis went off. One of the officers then pulled his own sidearm and shot Willis dead.
Family members told Capital Gazette reporters that a distant relative had requested the ERPO the day before, due to an “incident” that occurred at his residence. The details of the “incident” remain unclear at this writing, but the backpedaling by the police chief began almost immediately.
Police officers were quick to downplay the seriousness of the event, with the local police chief wondering aloud “What would have happened if we didn’t go there at 5 am?”
As The New American notes, it is likely that nothing would have happened. Willis had lived at the home for many years without so much as a minor incident with police, and it was not until they attempted to strip Willis of his Second Amendment rights that a situation ensued.
His niece, Michele Willis, was shocked by the death of her uncle, telling local media that “I’m just dumfounded right now. My uncle wouldn’t hurt anybody.”
As President Donald Trump jokes about the very Red Flag Laws he previously endorsed, the situation becomes more confusing for Americans concerned over their Second Amendment rights. While President Trump jokes about whether CNN’s Chris “Fredo” Cuomo should have a “Red Flag”, gun rights proponents are keen to point out this is exactly how the laws could be abused.
“Would Chris Cuomo be given a Red Flag for his recent rant?” President Trump remarked, referring to Cuomo’s absurd and emotional rant provoked by being called “Fredo”, “Filthy language and a total loss of control. He shouldn’t be allowed to have any weapon.”
Dana Loesch, an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment and frequent supporter of President Trump, noted “With one Tweet POTUS explains how red flag laws can and will be abused.”
With one Tweet POTUS explains how red flag laws can and will be abused. https://t.co/3W4J6JQl9f
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) August 13, 2019