Dakota Meyer says 'Red Flag' gun laws don't prevent suicide

Phil Briggs
September 06, 2019 - 3:32 pm
Marine Corps veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer

Meyer / Briggs Illustration

I recently had the honor of interviewing Marine Corps sniper and combat veteran Dakota Meyer.

While most people associate his name with the Medal of Honor (awarded for his incredible bravery in Afghanistan during the hellacious firefight known as the Battle of Ganjgal) far fewer have heard Meyer's thoughts on controversial gun control measures known as “Red Flag” laws. 

In the United States, a red flag law is a gun control law that permits police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves. We drifted into the topic after Meyer recalled his own suicide attempt.

By 2011 Meyer's enlistment was done, but some dark days were just beginning. Meyer described himself as “miserable” to be around. “I said things like ‘you don’t know what it’s like to watch your friends die’ and ‘I fought for this country, this country owes me something.'" 

Facing a spiral of anxiety, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Meyer described the night he almost took his own life in a parking lot, “I just pulled over, stuck the gun to my head, squeezed the trigger … and somebody had unloaded it that night.”

The fact that someone had unloaded his gun (without his knowledge) seems like it would move Meyer to support laws designed to remove guns from people experiencing a mental health crisis, right?

Dakota Meyer, Marine Corps veteran and Medal of Honor recipient talks on his podcast  Owning It.
Meyer/Owning It/Youtube

Above: Meyer shares his thoughts and inspirational guests on his podcast, "Owning It w/ Dakota Meyer".

But as Meyer explained, the discussion is not that simple. “The ‘Red Flag laws’ are just not something this country needs.  I mean If I have a concern about you, I can already call the authorities … The problem with the red flag laws is that if everyone was honest Abe and didn’t use this for manipulation they would be fine.  But the problem is who decides who gets their guns or not?”

With laws being interpreted and implemented by a variety of courts around the country Meyer points to issues that give him cause for concern. “You get a judge in there who already hates guns, I mean you can already see the attacks by the Democratic Party of trying to take the same thing that keeps us free.”

Meyer also highlighted a concern he has about the reporting of gun owners experiencing mental health situations, “What if I just called and said ‘Hey, this guy said this’? They’ll come and take your guns today and it’s up to the courts to get them back.  You’re guilty until proven innocent.”

When asked if there could be enough vetting, in order to avoid wrongful confiscations, Meyer was skeptical, “Can you imagine ex-wives or an angry neighbor? 'Well, I see so-and-so drink all the time, so you should come take his guns because I don’t feel safe'. Can you imagine, if I see my neighbor driving fast down the road, should we be able to put a governor on it or take their Ferrari away?”

In the wake of recent mass shootings which have affected so many Americans, it’s only natural to try to consider ways to stop these horrific tragedies.  But the heroic combat veteran offered a point that is sadly true, and one of the most frustrating parts of finding a legislative solution, “When you look at these people who have committed these mass shootings, they’re not necessarily law-abiding citizens. They didn’t follow the first 15 laws, but they’ll probably follow the 16th one? We have plenty of laws right now ... we just don’t have enough people to enforce them.”


Hear our entire interview here:

Two veterans in Congress plan 'red flag' gun control bill after mass shootings

If you or someone you know needs help, contact the Veteran Crisis Line 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 (select option 1 for a VA staff member). Veterans, service members or their families also can text 838255 or go to veteranscrisisline.net.

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Reach Phil Briggs at phil@connectingvets.com or follow @philbriggsVet