OnPolitics: Are red flag laws the best option to combat gun violence?
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President Joe Biden vowed Tuesday he won't interfere with the Federal Reserve's efforts to curb inflation after the central bank's move to raise interest rates this month sent markets spiraling.
"My plan to address inflation starts with a simple proposition: Respect the Fed. Respect the Fed's independence," Biden said in brief remarks kicking off an afternoon meeting with Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell.
What steps have the Fed taken on inflation? The Federal Reserve, which operates independently of the White House, in May raised its key short-term interest rate by a half percentage point in a push to rein in consumer demand to tame inflation. Rates went from a benchmark range of .25% to 0.5% to a range of 0.75% to 1%, the Fed's largest hike since 2000.
The central bank also said it will begin shrinking its $9 trillion in bond holdings next month, a strategy that will nudge long-term interest rates higher.
Yet other obstacles such as Russia's war in Ukraine and ongoing supply chain issues remain outside the control of the central bank.
There are signs the inflation outlook is improving. Inflation stayed elevated in April, with consumer prices 8.3% higher than one year ago, but that was down from 8.5% in March, perhaps signaling that inflation has peaked. Still the average price for gas Tuesday was a record $4.62 per gallon, according to AAA, about $1.50 more than drivers were paying last Memorial Day weekend.
Dems, Republicans may agree on red flag laws. But do they work?
Mass shootings this month in Buffalo and, now, Uvalde, Texas, have some lawmakers scrambling to find ways of passing a law that would prevent similar tragedies in the future.
Assault rifle bans, significantly expanded background checks and raising the minimum age from 18 to purchase guns are not expected to pass Congress when Republicans hold 50 Senate seats and can block gun control bills.
Known as "red flag" laws, the measures allow police or family members to get a court order that temporarily confiscates firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves. The House is expected to vote on – and pass – a red flag bill in the next two weeks, leaving enactment up to the Senate.
How do red flag laws work? In most of the states that have red flag laws, an immediate family member or law enforcement officer who has hard reason to believe someone poses an imminent threat to themselves or others (menacing behavior or a harrowing social media post, for example) can petition a judge for a temporary order removing the person's weapons.
Once the order has been issued and the weapons confiscated, a hearing to determine whether the individual should have their guns returned is usually held within weeks, one expert said. If upheld, the order is generally in place for up to a year but can be extended if the court deems the threat remains.
Red flag laws are targeted towards removal of weapons, not the involuntary commitment of an individual based on their mental health status. But opponents of the measure say it undermines due process because the gun owner usually isn't permitted to present their case until after the weapons have been confiscated.
“It turns due process on its head,” Val Finnell, Pennsylvania director for Gun Owners of America, told Pew's Stateline last year. “Petitioners don’t have to demonstrate that you committed a crime. They don’t even have to demonstrate that there’s any chance you’ll commit a crime. They just have to demonstrate that you’re subjectively a danger to someone. That’s all it takes to be stripped of your constitutional rights.”
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Republicans promote racist Great Replacement Theory
The gunman who killed 10 at a Buffalo, New York grocery store was allegedly inspired by the “Great Replacement Theory,” a belief that a segment of the population is trying to replace white Americans with immigrants.
The theory is being promoted by white supremacists, far-right wing pundits, and some in the Republican party. Among them are Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., the third highest-ranking Republican in the House; Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.
Republican congressional candidate Joe Kent, who is backed by Trump to represent Washington State in the House, has repeated the themes of the racist and anti-Semitic concept on social media and in interviews.
“The left is supporting an invasion of illegal immigrants to replace American voters and undercut working class jobs,” Kent tweeted last summer.
Nationwide, sitting members of Congress, candidates, state politicians and former officeholders have taken up the mantle of the theory, often replacing its anti-Semitic origins – that Jewish people are systemically replacing whites with immigrants and Black people – by accusing Democrats of importing nonwhite immigrants to take over American elections.
The Great Replacement Theory has been espoused by white supremacists since 1900, but it got widespread attention during the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, as white men chanted “Jews will not replace us,” in the streets.
Experts say it's become popular because proponents have been able to replace the supposed role of Jewish people with Democrats.
“Taking antisemitism out of it has allowed it to spread much further,” said Sophie Bjork-James, an anthropology professor at Vanderbilt University and an expert in the white nationalist movement.
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