Politics

Seattle Police Achieve State’s First “Red Flag Law” Gun Seizure

Seattle, WA— A law that went into effect in 2017 introduced the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO), which allows law enforcement in the state of Washington to confiscate a gun owner’s firearms if the owner is deemed a threat to themselves or others by a judge. This law, also referred to as a “red flag” gun law, has led Seattle to become Washington’s first city to use the law to confiscate a firearm from an individual.

Acting as petitioners, law enforcement agencies, blood-related and adopted relatives, married partners, romantic partners, current and former roommates, and people holding other certain specific associations can apply for an ERPO in Washington against a gun-owning individual considered to be an “extreme risk.”

According to Chapter 7.94 of the Washington legislature’s Revised Code of Washington (RCW) which lists the state’s permanent laws, the petitioner must include an “affidavit made under oath stating the specific statements, actions, or facts that give rise to a reasonable fear of future dangerous acts by the respondent.” ERPOs may be granted as an “immediate temporary order” or a full order.

Within Chapter 7.94 is RCW 7.94.050, related to temporary, or ex parte ERPOs:

A petitioner may request that an ex parte extreme risk protection order be issued before a hearing for an extreme risk protection order, without notice to the respondent, by including in the petition detailed allegations based on personal knowledge that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to self or others in the near future by having in his or her custody or control, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm.

RCW 7.94.090 states that “Upon issuance of any extreme risk protection order under this chapter, including an ex parte extreme risk protection order, the court shall order the respondent to surrender to the local law enforcement agency all firearms in the respondent’s custody, control, or possession and any concealed pistol license issued under RCW 9.41.070.” A granted ERPO is valid for one year and can be renewed for one-year periods.

While this as been championed as a valuable tool for law enforcement, due process procedures come into question, including under the provisions of an ex parte ERPO; in some ERPO cases the accused respondent will not have the opportunity to face their accuser or challenge the claim until after a temporary order is already issued; this effectively allows law enforcement take a person’s firearms first, with due process occurring after firearms are removed. 

While a court hearing typically scheduled two weeks following an order allows a respondent to challenge the ERPO request, the fact that a provision allows for gun confiscation without being arrested or charged with a crime led to concerns reportedly raised by 2nd Amendment advocates as well as civil liberties groups.

David Combs, a vocal opponent of this law when it was known as Initiative 1491, wrote:

I-1491 duplicates new laws and doesn’t provide a treatment model, while Washington State’s ‘Joel’s Law’ passed in 2015 already provides protection for individuals and those close to them by providing families a legal process for obtaining an involuntary treatment to a mental health facility when a person is determined to be a danger to themselves or others. An individual with a record of an involuntary treatment beyond 14 days loses the right to possess firearms indefinitely.

[RELATED: Reality Check: Trump Did Not Make It Easier for Severely Mentally Ill People To Buy Guns]

“We now have to go to someone’s house and knock on the door and say, ‘We’re from the government. Can we have your guns?’” Seattle Police Sergeant Eric Pisconski, head of the crisis response unit for the Seattle Police Department, told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. “That can get very dangerous.”

“There’s certainly a big concern of the connection between mental health and people exhibiting violent behavior and whether or not they should have access to firearms. The ‘erpos’ give us that tool now as an option,” said Pisconski.

According to a Seattle police statement released on March 2nd, the city became the first law enforcement agency in Washington to confiscate an individual’s firearm through an ERPO:

Over the last year, police had received multiple calls about the man’s escalating behavior. In one recent incident, staff at a restaurant near the man’s home called police and reported that the man was harassing them while carrying a holstered firearm. Police also seized a shotgun from the man in another incident.

In a KATU report, police claimed the volume of complaints about an individual led them to apply for an ERPO, including reports from neighbors claiming the man was “staring” at them through a window while open-carrying a holstered pistol.

“He was roaming the hallways with a .25 caliber automatic,” Tony Montana, who reportedly knows the man from the apartment complex where he resides, told KATU. “And it created a lot of fear obviously because I didn’t know if he was coming after me or gonna just start shooting the place up.” KATU noted that other ERPOs “have been served and executed around the state, but Seattle police said they are the only agency so far to seize a gun because the owner refused to hand it over.”

“The 31-year-old man met officers outside of his apartment and was taken into custody for violating a previous order to turn over his firearms, the Seattle Police Department’s statement read. “Officers then entered the man’s apartment and recovered a .25 caliber handgun. Police are also working to obtain several other firearms owned by the man, which are currently in possession of a family member.”

“We attempted multiple times to get the individual to fulfill that order of turning over their firearms,” Pisconski said. “And he refused multiple times. We were forced, at that point, to take the next step in the ERPO law which is petitioning for a search warrant to go in and enter their home and remove the firearms from them.”

According to KOMO News, Washington is among five states that have a “red flag law” that allows seizure of weapons in circumstances in which a court is petitioned to do so. Rhode Island is considering similar legislation, and an analysis from Rhode Island ACLU has noted a number of concerns including “its impact on civil liberties, and the precedent it sets for the use of coercive measures against individuals not because they are alleged to have committed any crime, but because somebody believes they might, someday, commit one.”

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Reality Check: Internet Purge of Dissenting Voices?

Is there an Internet purge of conservative voices or voices of dissension online? Some say yes, and that the purge is being pushed by YouTube (owned by Google) and Facebook and Twitter.

We’ve heard about censorship before, but is what is happening now an all-out purge?

Let’s give it a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

You might be a fan, you might be disgusted by him. But there is no doubt that InfoWars founder and radio host Alex Jones is a lightning rod. His YouTube channel has over 2.2 million subscribers and more than 33,000 videos.

Just days ago, Jones claimed that YouTube had begun a process of taking his channel down.

On March 3, CBS reported, “Jones tweeted that he had ‘set up a new channel’ that the ‘SPLC,’ or the Southern Poverty Law Center, wanted censored. In one of the videos on the channel called ‘InfoWars Censored,’ Jones said, ‘We’re live on Facebook, on Twitter, on Periscope, but we cannot go live on the Alex Jones channel — it’s been frozen for the third time in one week.’”

YouTube confirmed to CBS News that some advertisers had asked that their ads be pulled from Jones’ channel but there was “no plan”…“at present” to remove the channel completely.

Of course, all of this comes after YouTube announced in December that it would hire 10,000 new moderators to flag content. And those moderators have been flagging at stunning rate.

But more than flagged, YouTube is outright banning channels. Some YouTube channels recently complained about their accounts being pulled entirely with no advance warning. In this latest case, YouTube seems to have been flagging content that was either deemed as pro-gun or conservative content.

According to The Verge, “YouTube indicated that as the platform ramps up human-powered moderation efforts, new moderators may have mistakenly removed or flagged right-wing videos and channels. Bloomberg reported the news this afternoon, quoting a YouTube spokesperson saying that ‘as we work to hire rapidly and ramp up our policy enforcement teams throughout 2018, newer members may misapply some of our policies resulting in mistaken removals.’ The spokesperson said that YouTube’s policies had not changed, and that ‘we’ll reinstate any videos that were removed in error.’”

So it’s not a conspiracy.

There is no question that human moderators were, in fact, pulling down “right wing” or “conservative content.”

But why? What is really happening here? Because YouTube’s push to control video content, just like Facebook is nothing new. In fact, it has been happening for some time.

Mike Cernovich tweeted that a video he has posted of Antifa protesters chanting death threats at a protest in DC was taken down by YouTube because it violated community guidelines.

To be clear, the video was about 30 seconds of an actual protest in DC. And the language of the protesters violated community guidelines? That is called news, YouTube. But it was not allowed.

Mike Adams, the founding editor of NaturalNews.com, announced March 3:

“YouTube has now deleted the entire Health Ranger video channel, wiping out over 1,700 videos covering everything from nutrition, natural medicine, history, science and current events.”

So why is all of this happening? Is it all because YouTube is trying to control the Internet? Maybe not.

There is, in fact, a very coordinated effort by a number of organizations, like Media Matters for America and the Southern Poverty Law Center to silence voices with which it does not agree.

I know this first hand, as these organizations have attacked me personally trying to silence my voice.

Full disclosure here, I am ideologically a libertarian, neither on the left or the right. But according to these groups, I am “alt-right”—a dog whistle which means white nationalist. I am not, not at all. But that doesn’t stop them from slandering me.

The goal of these organizations is to silence dissent. Not just from the right, but from the left as well.

Anyone who is not part of the establishment structure is attacked.

Facebook is going through a very similar process right now, with increased pressure to control voices on its platform.

Remember in 2016 it was widely reported by several outlets, including Gizmodo:

“Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential ‘trending’ news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project. This individual says that workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site’s users.”

Twitter does the same thing. In December, Twitter announced strict enforcement of new rules on “hateful conduct and abusive behavior.”

According to Politico, “That provoked the first objections from some on the right who called the steps a ‘#twitterpurge.’ The company conceded at the time that ‘we may make some mistakes and are working on a robust appeals process.”

So what you need to know is that the YouTube and Facebook purges are not a new problem.

Mainstream media networks and newspapers have routinely pushed narratives in their newsrooms for decades. We all know that.

Yet, for some reason, Facebook and YouTube, which have far more influence than those networks, have chosen to bend to pressure and try to control the narratives on their platforms.

YouTube says its mission is, “to give everyone a voice and show them the world.” But the truth is, they are not.

The problem for any dissenting voice is that if you are using your voice on someone else’s property, i.e., YouTube or Facebook, you will never have control of it. Which is why the next frontier must be decentralized platforms.

Platforms like Dtube and Steemit, built on blockchain, will be future of how content, the good the bad and ugly, will be stored. And the efforts to silence dissenting voices, will actually be the undoing of YouTube and Facebook.

As for those of us who have a voice, you and me, well… if you do not object to YouTube and Facebook purging voices with which you do not agree, then just wait.

Because if you are silent now, it may soon be the voices you do agree with that will also be silenced. And who then will be left to come to that defense?

That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about it right now on Facebook and Twitter.

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UK Court Rules To End Toddler’s Life Despite Parents’ Wishes

(DCNF) A U.K. court upheld an earlier ruling Tuesday ordering a toddler to be taken off life support despite his parents’ desire to continue treating him.

London’s Court of Appeal denied the parents’ request to transfer their son, 21-month-old Alfie Evans, to the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital and upheld a lower court’s ruling that sided with doctors at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool who say that continued treatment is “futile,” according to Crux Now. Evans suffers from an unknown neurological degenerative condition that has reduced him to what the hospital has called a “semi-vegetable state,” but his parents argue that he is still responsive and say they will continue to fight for him to be treated.

“At this moment, Alfie’s not ready so we’re not ready to let go,” Tom Evans, the boy’s father, told BBC.

Tom said that he would challenge the ruling before the U.K.’s Supreme Court.

The case bears similarities to the 2017 legal battle over treatment for Charlie Gard, who died at 11 months old after U.K. courts continually deliberated and denied him the option to receive treatment. Then as now, the hospital officials overseeing the treatment of the child have argued that attempting to treat him would be against the child’s best interest — a conclusion that Alfie’s parents contest.

“Our aim is always to try and reach an agreement with parents about the most appropriate care plan for their child. Unfortunately there are sometimes rare situations such as this where agreement cannot be reached and the treating team believe that continued active treatment is not in a child’s best interests,” Alder Hey Children’s Hospital said in a statement, according to Crux.

Justice Anthony Hayden of the U.K.’s High Court agreed in his Feb. 20 ruling with the hospital’s assessment that continuing to treat the Alfie was “unkind, unfair, and inhumane.” Hayden praised the efforts of Alfie’s parents but ultimately denied them the chance to medically fight for their son’s life. He said that Tom’s urging to “fight on with Alfie’s army” was commendable but that the parents’ had no clear plan for their son’s betterment. Tom, incensed by the ruling, denounced it and vowed that he would continue the fight.

“My son has been sentenced to the death penalty. The system has worked against us. I’m not crying because I know how wrong they are, I know how strong my boy is doing. He is strong, he is comfortable. This isn’t the end. This is just the start. I’m going to take this NHS down. I’m not giving up, my son isn’t giving up. No-one, I repeat, no-one in this country, is taking my boy away from me. They are not violating his rights and they are violating my rights,” Tom said after Hayden’s ruling, according to Daily Mail.

The three judges of the appeals court, however, echoed Hayden’s reasoning Tuesday and said that the hospital had given due consideration to the parents’ wishes. They ruled hospital staff’s decision to remove Alfie from life support and deny his transfer to another hospital was justified since Alfie is, according to their assessment, comatose and unaware of his surroundings.

The parents argue that Alfie is still aware and can still respond to them, but hospital staff say that what the parents interpret as responses are actually seizures, according to Daily Mail. Barrister Stephen Knafler QC, who represents Alfie’s parents against the state, argued that, regardless of the hospital’s assessment, the courts’ rulings overstep their boundaries and interfere with “parental choice,” according to Crux.

Written by Joshua Gill Follow Joshua on Twitter
This article was republished with permission from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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Congressional Chairmen Demand Appointment of Second Special Counsel

Washington, D.C.— Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sent an official request on March 6 to Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the FBI’s alleged abuse of FISA surveillance and “decisions made or not made” by the Department of Justice (DOJ) preceding the 2016 presidential election and in its aftermath.

“There is evidence of bias, trending toward animus, among those charged with investigating serious cases,” the Committee chairmen wrote in their letter to Sessions. “There is evidence political opposition research was used in court filings. There is evidence this political opposition research was neither vetted before it was used nor fully revealed to the relevant tribunal.”

Sessions has called for a probe by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), but Gowdy and Goodlatte, said the appointment of a special prosecutor is more applicable in this case due to the OIG’s lack of authority to investigate or compel former employees to cooperate — due to key figures no longer serving in government— and the DOJ’s inability to investigate itself.

[RELATED: Reality Check: GOP Memo and FISA Problems]

“While we have confidence in the Inspector General for the Department of Justice, the DOJ IG does not have the authority to investigate other governmental entities or former employees of the Department, the Bureau, or other agencies,” Gowdy and Goodlatte wrote.

The committee chairmen added, “Some have been reluctant to call for the appointment of a Special Counsel because such an appointment should be reserved for those unusual cases where existing investigative and prosecutorial entities cannot adequately discharge those duties. We believe this is just such a case.”

A report by the Washington Times listed a number of U.S. government officials that signed off on the FISA warrant to surveil unpaid Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page: former FBI Director James B. Comey; former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe; former acting Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates; former acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente; and current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein all signed off on applications to surveil Carter Page, who had been a Trump campaign adviser.

In an interview with Fox News, Gowdy explained that the discovery of new information was behind the call for a second independent counsel.

“What changed for me was the knowledge that there are two dozen witnesses that Michael Horowitz, the [DOJ] Inspector General, would not have access to,” Gowdy said. “When I counted up 24 witnesses that he would not be able to access were he to investigate it, yeah only one conclusion, that’s special counsel.”

When asked why a special counsel was needed, Gowdy explained, “Congress doesn’t have the tools to investigate this… we leak like the Gossip Girls.”

Democrats claimed that the request was simply political theater meant to distract from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“I can understand why House Republicans hope that DOJ will swoop in and save them from this mess — but that is not what the Department of Justice is for,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Days prior to the letter from Gowdy and Goodlatte, thirteen House Republicans made a similar request, calling for the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate the same issues.

The letter from the thirteen Congressmen stated: “Evidence has come to light that raises serious concerns about decisions and activities by leadership at the highest levels of the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding how and why the Clinton probe ended and how and why the Trump-Russia probe began.”

Calls for a second special counsel have grown in the wake of the House Intelligence Committee memo alleging the FBI relied on unvetted campaign opposition research, paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC, as evidence used to obtain secret warrants on Trump campaign officials.

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Vote: Do You Believe Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Actions Fueled The Libyan Slave Markets?

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