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Red-Flag Laws — Yes, We Limit Liberty When There’s Evidence of a Threat

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07.08.2019

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, my old law professor Alan Dershowitz has raised a common objection to “red flag” laws — also known as “gun-violence restraining orders.” Put simply, Dershowitz argues that the government is not very good at predicting who will commit violent acts:

I have studied, taught and written for half a century about the difficulties of predicting violence. My first scholarly article, in 1970, was titled “The Law of Dangerousness: Some Fictions About Predictions,” and a subsequent book was titled “Preemption: A Knife That Cuts Both Ways” (2006). Research shows that any group of people identified as future violent criminals will contain many more who won’t be violent (false positives) than who will (true positives). More true positives mean more false ones. Such groupings also fail to identify many future violent criminals (false negatives).

He continues:

Red-flag laws risk setting a dangerous precedent. If the government can take your guns based on a prediction today, what will stop it from taking your liberty based on a prediction tomorrow?

But there’s a fallacy here. Red-flag........

© National Review