We’ve been down this road many times before.
If the government is consistent about anything, it is this: it has a tendency to exploit crises and use them as opportunities for power grabs under the guise of “national security.” Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have given way to permanent crisis management: to policing the planet and fighting preventative wars of ideological containment, usually on terrain favorable to our enemies. Limited government and constitutional accountability have been thrown aside by the kind of imperial presidency our constitutional system was explicitly designed to prevent.
Cue the Emergency State, the government’s Machiavellian version of crisis management that justifies all manner of government tyranny in the so-called name of “national security.” Terrorist attacks, mass shootings, unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters: the government has been anticipating and preparing for such crises for years now.
It’s all part of the grand unified plan for total control.
The government’s proposed response to the latest round of mass shootings—red-flag gun laws, pre-crime surveillance, fusion centers, threat assessments, mental health assessments, involuntary confinement—is just more of the same. These tactics have been employed before, here in the U.S. and elsewhere, by other totalitarian regimes, with devastating results.
It’s a simple enough formula: first, you create fear; then you capitalize on it by seizing power. For instance, in his remarks on the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, President Trump promised to give the FBI “whatever they need” to investigate and disrupt hate crimes and domestic terrorism. Let that sink in for a moment.
In a post-9/11 America, Trump’s promise bodes ill for whatever remnants of freedom we have left. With that promise, flippantly delivered without any apparent thought for the Constitution’s prohibitions on such overreach, the president has given the FBI the green light to violate Americans’ civil liberties in every which way.
This is how the Emergency State works, after all.
Although the damage wrought by these power grabs has been most evident in recent presidential administrations—under Trump, Obama, Bush and Clinton—the seeds of this present madness were sown, in 1940 when President Roosevelt declared a national emergency.
So what does the government’s carefully calibrated response to this current crisis mean for freedom as we know it? Compliance and control. For starters, consider Trump’s embrace of red flag gun laws, which allow the police to remove guns from people “suspected” of being threats, will only add to the government’s power.
As The Washington Post reports, these laws “allow a family member, roommate, beau, law enforcement officer, or any type of medical professional to file a petition [with a court] asking that a person’s home be temporarily cleared of firearms. It doesn’t require a mental-health diagnosis or an arrest.” Be forewarned: these laws, growing in popularity as a legislative means by which to seize guns from individuals viewed as a danger to themselves or others, are yet another Trojan horse, a stealth maneuver by the police state to gain greater power over an unsuspecting and largely gullible populace.
Seventeen states, plus the District of Columbia, now have red flag laws on their books. That number is growing. In the midst of what feels like an epidemic of mass shootings, these gun confiscation laws—extreme risk protection order (ERPO) laws—may appease the fears of those who believe that fewer guns in the hands of the general populace will make our society safer.
Of course, it doesn’t always work that way. Anything—knives, vehicles, planes, pressure cookers—can become a weapon when wielded with deadly intentions. With these red flag gun laws, the intention is to disarm individuals who are potential threats. “We need to stop dangerous people before they act”: that’s the rationale behind the NRA’s support of these red flag laws, and at first glance, it appears to be perfectly reasonable to want to disarm individuals who are clearly suicidal and/or pose an “immediate danger” to themselves or others.
Part of the problem lies with many of the terms used by our government. Who defines “potential threat,” “mental health,” “dangerous people,” and others? With the police state in America today, many of the terms could be spun against people who are considered government dissenters—individuals who actually believe in and honor the U.S. Constitution, for example. Furthermore, give the government an inch and it will take a mile. Many laws, the USA Patriot Act, for example, that were intended for one purpose are often misused for another. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
In the movie Minority Report, the technology that John Anderton, Chief of the Department of Pre-Crime in Washington, D.C., relies on for his predictive policing proves to be fallible, identifying him as the next would-be criminal and targeting him for preemptive measures. Consequently, Anderton finds himself not only attempting to prove his innocence but forced to take drastic measures in order to avoid capture in a surveillance state that uses biometric data and sophisticated computer networks to track its citizens.
With every passing day, the American police state moves that much closer to mirroring the fictional pre-crime prevention world of Minority Report.