Justice Department ‘weaponized’ bipartisan gun safety law to ‘illegally fund’ red flag laws, Republicans say

GOP lawmakers say President Biden’s Justice Department has ‘weaponized’ a bipartisan gun safety law to confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens

“Senator Cornyn’s gun control [has] turned out to be worse than we feared,” said Aidan Johnston, federal affairs director at GOA.

Republicans and gun rights activists say the Biden administration unlawfully handed out federal funds to states that did not qualify under a program intended to promote so-called “red flag” laws.

In 2022, Congress passed and President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in response to mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, that left dozens dead. The law incentivizes states to pass extreme risk protection laws, also called “red flag” laws, that allow members of the public and law enforcement to petition courts for a civil order to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms for fear that person might do violence. After gun rights advocates raised Second Amendment concerns, Congress included requirements that states applying for federal grants to implement red flag laws include certain due process protections.

But Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., and Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., assert in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland that the Justice Department has handed federal funds to states that did not meet the minimum due process criteria. The letter accuses the Biden administration of ignoring Congress and demands to know why grants to at least eight states and territories with no red flag laws on the books nevertheless received federal funds under the DOJ program. It was signed by seven GOP senators and 26 House lawmakers.

“The Department of Justice appears to have weaponized the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to illegally fund ineligible ‘red flag’ laws and bribe pro-gun states into passing gun confiscation laws,” the lawmakers wrote.

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Gun Owners of America (GOA), a Second Amendment group, said it has tracked the grant program and was first to notify Congress of state recipients failing to qualify for funding under the terms of the law.

“We’ve been closely following this grant program since the passage of Senator Cornyn’s gun control last summer, and it’s turned out to be worse than we feared. Despite assurances this money wouldn’t bribe states to pass ‘red-flag’ laws, Biden’s DOJ granted anti-gun bureaucrats in several pro-gun states funding to enact gun confiscation programs anyway. And, every state with ‘red flag’ gun confiscation laws on the books received funds – despite none of them meeting the apparently worthless due-process requirements mandated by the federal legislation,” said Aidan Johnston, federal affairs director at GOA.

“These concerns are just some of the reasons GOA opposed this law from the beginning, and we will continue to fight back in the courts and on Capitol Hill,” he said.

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