More Than 450 People in Florida Ordered to Surrender Guns Months After New ‘Red Flag' Gun Law Took Effect
TALLAHASSEE, FL – August 1, 2018
After the toughening of Florida's gun possession laws, 450 residents of the state have been ordered to turn in their firearms.
Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the new Risk Protection Act after the Parkland school shooting on Valentine's Day, under the new law, weapons owners may be restricted in their right to possess guns if a judge deems them to be a threat to themselves or others.
In all, under the new law, about 200 firearms and around 30,000 rounds of ammunition have been seized. It’s clear that many gun owners are not happy with this law and don’t want to surrender their weapons voluntarily and that authorities have to overcome their strong resistance.
In Pinellas County, a 5-man team is devoted to working only risk protection cases. So far the team has filed 64 risk protection petitions in court, the second highest number of cases in a Florida county. Broward County has the most, 88 risk protection petitions (as of early July) since the law took effect in mid-March.
“It’s a constitutional right to bear arms and when you are asking the court to deprive somebody of that right we need to make sure we are making good decisions, right decisions and the circumstances warrant it,” explained Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri when asked why he decided to devote an entire unit to carry out the new law. Sheriff Gualtieri is especially passionate about the law and how it was born. He chairs the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission. The task force was formed after the high school shooting to analyze details from the incident in an effort to prevent future school shootings.
Records show in Pinellas County, the majority of risk protection cases have involved people with histories of mental illness who threatened to hurt themselves, not others.
So far, every petition filed in the county has been granted by the Judge.
“As far as the cases in the county, have they all been black and white?” asked reporter Katie Lagrone. “They have,” said Sgt. Schmittendorf. “We haven’t looked at one and said this isn’t it.”
But as other parts of the state show, the risk posed and the protection offered under the new law isn't always so clear.
In addition to the seizure of firearms from potentially dangerous citizens whom a judge deems to be “a threat to themselves or others,” a minimum age has been established for gun purchases. Now you can not sell weapons to persons under the age of 21, and you can pick up your purchase only after a three day wait. This time has been given to gun buyers to think twice before purchasing their firearms.
Nicholas Cruz, who shot 17 people at Parkland, was 19. In total, just in 2018 alone, there were 18 incidents with registered firearms in the US.