Florida’s “red flag” gun confiscation law has been used thousands of times in the two years since a mentally unstable young man who had given several warning signs that he was dangerous went on a horrific shooting spree at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. And the pace of the gun confiscation law’s use is only picking up.
The law was voted into law about three weeks after the tragic 2018 Valentine’s Day shooting. The law was supported by congressional members of both parties in the state and signed into law by the Republican governor. As reported by The Associated Press on the two-year anniversary of the massacre, the law has been applied on Florida residents “more than 3,500 times since, with the pace accelerating during the last half of 2019.”
Application of the law is initiated by police submitting a request to a civil court that contains an explanation of why authorities believe the individual is a threat. Among the potential reasons is mental illness. Approval of the request by a judge results in a temporary suspension of the individual’s Second Amendment rights to possess a firearm and authorizes police to confiscate any of the individual’s firearms.
A hearing must be held within two weeks to determine whether the individual’s firearms can be retained for a year. If the person is perceived to be a long-term threat by law enforcement, authorities can apply for an extension. If the judge determines the confiscation is unwarranted, the weapons are returned.
Despite the stunning number of uses of the law, AP suggests that it is potentially not being used enough. An AP analysis found that the law’s use is “inconsistent, with some counties and cities using it rarely and others not at all.” AP provides some more details on its findings:
The AP analysis shows that from March 2018, when the law was enacted, through December 2019, there was a wide disparity in its per capita usage in Florida’s 67 counties. Twenty issued at least one for every 5,500 residents during that time period, the statewide average. Three issued at least one for every 2,000 residents, including Gualtieri’s Pinellas County, which includes the Tampa Bay area, and has nearly 1 million people. Highlands County, near Lake Okeechobee, ranked No. 1, issuing one for every 850 residents.
On the other extreme, 12 counties issued one for every 30,000 residents or less. Two neighboring Panhandle counties — Escambia and Santa Rosa — issued one for every 100,000 residents or more. Another nine small, rural counties issued none.
Sheriffs from the counties that had sparingly used the law or not used it at all told AP in a questionnaire that they are not “philosophically opposed to the law” but rather “just haven’t needed it,” AP notes.
Florida is one of 17 states that now have their own versions of “red flag” laws. The District of Columbia also has a similar law. Eleven of these laws were enacted after the Parkland shooting, AP notes.
One of the states that has recently implemented its own “red flag” law is Colorado, which enacted the “Zackari Parrish Violence Prevention Act” — named after a sheriff’s deputy shot in the line of duty by a heavily armed, mentally ill man — at the start of the new year. As The Daily Wire reported, two weeks after the law’s enactment, law enforcement had already submitted at least four confiscation requests, three of which were approved and one of which was rejected.
One of the states that is making the most waves in the Second Amendment debate in recent weeks is Democrat-controlled Virginia. Amid a wave of pro-Second Amendment protests, the Democrats’ attempt to pass an “assault-style rifle” ban failed in a Democrat-majority Senate committee on Monday.
H/T Jazz Shaw