While so-called red flag laws permitting authorities to seize guns belonging to people deemed a significant risk to public safety appear to offer an important new tool in reeling in American gun violence, a recent case in Washington state indicates its limitations, too.
Authorities in King County recently issued a warrant for the arrest of Kaleb J. Cole, the 24-year-old state leader of the neo-Nazi terror organization Atomwaffen Division, after he was arrested in Texas on gun-possession charges. Cole had been prohibited from being in possession of any guns after Washington state courts in October issued an Extreme Risk Protection Order directing Cole to surrender all his weapons.
Cole and another Atomwaffen member from Washington, 23-year-old Aiden Bruce-Umbaugh, were pulled over for speeding in Post, Texas, on Nov. 4, wearing tactical gear, and were arrested after a search of their car revealed both guns and drugs, along with large quantities of ammunition. Bruce-Umbaugh told police both the guns and the drugs belonged to him and was charged with being a drug user in possession of a firearm.
When Cole surrendered his firearms in October, there was some concern among antifascists that, even as he appeared to be acquiescing to the order, he might still have some guns stowed away elsewhere. Washington’s “red flag” law permits courts to seize weapons, but relies mostly on voluntary cooperation, though search warrants can be obtained through a second court order.
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