The FBI used Oregon’s new “red flag” law to seize guns from a former Marine who allegedly threatened to “slaughter” antifa demonstrators at a Portland rally earlier this month, The Oregonian reported Friday.
The statute allows law enforcement to take proactive action to stop violence before any crime has been committed. Such laws are being advanced in various states as a way to begin to deal more effectively with America’s burgeoning mass shooting toll.
Former Marine Shane Kohfield — in a red “Make America Great Again” hat with a knife strapped to his shoulder at the time — allegedly made the threat on a loudspeaker outside the home of Portland’s mayor in July.
Within days, agents seized Kohfield’s weapons. They relied on the red flag law that went into effect early this year that allowed them to temporarily take possession of the guns even though Kohfield hadn’t committed a crime, the newspaper reported. The statute allows law enforcement, family members or roommates to petition a judge for an “extreme risk protection order” that bars a targeted individual from gun possession.
Phil Lemman, Oregon’s acting deputy state court administrator, said Kohfield surrendered five guns, including an AR-15.
Kohfield, who served two tours of duty in Iraq, was also taken to a veterans hospital in Portland, where he spent 20 days. He was not charged with a crime — but he was also not allowed to attend the August demonstration staged by the white nationalist Proud Boys, which drew antifascist counterprotesters.
Kohfield, 32, told The Oregonian that he understands why his guns were taken and why he was transported to a hospital. “I looked unhinged,” he said. “I looked dangerous and have the training to be dangerous,” Kohfield added, but said that he did not intend to hurt anyone.
The FBI declined to comment specifically on Kohfield’s case.
“The Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force’s role is to assess, address and mitigate any given threat against the people of Oregon appropriately,” a spokesperson for the bureau’s Portland office told The Oregonian in an email Friday. Sometimes that involves efforts to “divert a person before a significant violent crime occurs.”
CORRECTION: A prior version of this story referred to Iran when it should have referred to Iraq.