There’s one encouraging sign in the fight to turn back the tide of white-nationalist organizing and its attendant criminality: Law enforcement officials in a variety of locations are taking the threats posed by the most violent and threatening of these extremists seriously and either arresting them or taking their guns away.
In Camden County, New Jersey, police confiscated the guns of 51-year-old David Greco after months of posting material online in which he “threatened, advocated and celebrated the killing of Jewish people.” In an earlier exchange with police officers, he told them he “believes that Jews are raping our woman and children” and that “force or violence is necessary to realign society.”
His guns were confiscated under a court order issued by a Superior Court judge, operating under a so-called “red flag” law called the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, which allows courts to issue orders at least temporarily confiscating the guns of people deemed potential imminent threats to public safety.
Meanwhile, in Brownsville, Texas, an 18-year-old man faces criminal terrorism charges after he allegedly threatened to mail a bomb to the Federal Reserve, set fire to a local mosque, as well as to both torch and shoot up a local synagogue—while apparently possessing both the bombs and other materials that made the threats less than idle talk.
According to the local Brownsville Herald, Joel Hayden Schrimsher faces federal charges for the array of threats he made on Twitter. It reports that “investigators found four chemical compounds used in bomb making, as well as white supremacist literature in the home where Schrimsher lived with his parents.” Schrimsher, the paper reports, was arrested in June by Harlingen, Texas, police who were tipped to his Twitter activity by agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in Washington, D.C.
The FBI’s top leadership has been sounding the warning signal recently, testifying before Congress that the agency has seen a significant upsurge in white supremacist terrorism. Among the recent cases in which a potential terrorist attack was averted by preemptive arrest was the hair-raising case of Baltimore Coast Guard officer Christopher Hasson, who allegedly wrote down his plans to embark on a deadly terrorist rampage in the event of Donald Trump’s impeachment.
Law-enforcement authorities in the Pacific Northwest have used laws similar to the one used in the New Jersey case in recent weeks to confiscate weapons from far-right extremists who have made violent threats online and elsewhere. Oregon authorities earlier this year temporarily confiscated the guns belonging to a U.S. Marine who had announced his plan to invade the homes of antifascists and kill them in their beds.
More recently, Seattle authorities confiscated the guns belonging to a member of Atomwaffen Division, the notoriously violent neo-Nazi terrorist organization.
These so-called “red flag” laws function under a somewhat expansive interpretation of court powers, and are considered controversial. They have been approved in 17 states, with legislation still in the works in four others. To date, the courts have found that they do not violate individuals’ Second Amendment rights.