Under a new Florida law, often referred to as the Red Flag law, people are being subjected to gun seizures based on nothing more than a request by law enforcement. The crux of the law is, if law enforcement suspect you are a danger to yourself or others. All this comes a result of the Parkland shooting and is part of the knee jerk reactions that usually occur after such a terrible event.
On the one hand, it was obvious the Parkland shooter should never have had a gun. He was contacted by LEO or school resources on numerous occasions. At the time, the state claims, there was no legal way to remove weapons from someone who is a clear danger. As a result, the Red Flag law was passed.
Under the current legislation law enforcement officials or family members can present a request to a judge for a temporary seizure of someone’s firearms. They must show due cause, in that the person is a danger to themselves or others, and a judge must sign it. The seizure is supposed to only be temporary but can last up to twelve months. If law enforcement makes the request, they are to make a good faith effort to inform immediate family of the such request.
Here is a list of the things that can have your firearms seized:
1. A recent act or threat of violence by the respondent against self or others, whether or not such violence or threat of violence involves a firearm.
2. An act or threat of violence by the respondent within the past 12 months, including, but not limited to, acts or threats of violence by the respondent against self or others.
3. A recurring mental health issue of the respondent.
4. A violation by the respondent of a protection order or a no contact order issued under s. 741.30, s. 784.046, or s.784.0485.
5. A previous or existing risk protection order issued against the respondent.
6. A violation of a previous or existing risk protection order issued against the respondent.
7. A conviction of the respondent for a crime that constitutes domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28.
8. The respondent’s ownership, access to, or intent to possess firearms.
9. The unlawful or reckless use, display, or brandishing of a firearm by the respondent.
10. The recurring use of, or threat to use, physical force by the respondent against another person, or the respondent stalking another person.
11. An arrest, a plea of guilty or no contest, or a conviction of the respondent for a violent misdemeanor or felony offense.
12. Corroborated evidence of the abuse of controlled substances or alcohol by the respondent.
13. Evidence of recent acquisition of firearms by the respondent.
As you can see, there are a couple of things there that are a concern. The very fist thing says an act committed within the previous twelve months is sufficient. So, in other words, someone has a year to decide if they want to screw with you. Also, it states that drug and alcohol use can lead to this and the language is so open that it can be interpreted in almost any manner.
If such an order is served on you, you can under the law, submit one written request to have it lifted. But as such things are starting to work today, you have the burden to prove you are no longer a threat, it’s not innocent until proven guilty.
With everything that’s happening today, in regard to shootings, a law such as this is an understandable response, to a degree. While we need a vehicle to deal with people that are a danger to society, placing the burden of proof on the accused, is a slippery slope and one that’s ripe for abuse.
To date, approximately four hundred and fifty people have had their firearms seized under this law. That’s a surprising number to me, considering this is designed to prevent mass shootings. And while there are those that praise this move, there are not nearly that many people committing these types of crimes. So it makes me wonder what all these people have done and just how many of them were truly justified.