Florida 'red flag' law has removed hundreds of guns: report

Florida 'red flag' law has removed hundreds of guns: report
© Greg Nash

Florida’s red flag law, which confiscates firearms from people who have committed gun violence or are determined to be at-risk, has removed hundreds of guns from Florida homes but has been enforced inconsistently throughout the state, according to an investigation by The Associated Press

The measure was a bipartisan effort passed by the Florida legislature after a man killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., two years ago. 

Under this law, police agencies file a request to a civil judge citing evidence that the person in question has engaged in suspicious behavior. A judge then holds a hearing and decides whether to confiscate their weapons for a year, after which police agencies are able to renew the request. Though the law has been successful in removing guns from potentially dangerous individuals, the level of enforcement depends on the city and county level, with some places reporting not using it at all. 

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According to AP, the state average confiscations was one for every 5,500 residents, though the numbers vary widely per county. 

“If someone has made a threat to hurt themselves or others and is intent on using a firearm, we will try to get a risk protection order against them so we can take away those guns,” Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman told the AP, adding that he’s unsure why his county has the highest number of confiscations.

Opponents of the law argue that it is unconstitutional and ineffective. In Highlands County, there were at least two instances where those who had their weapons confiscated died by suicide through other means.

The AP report comes as gun legislation sits at a standstill in Congress yet pops up consistently among Democratic presidential candidates. 

On Thursday, House Ethics Committee Chairman Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchFather of Parkland shooting victim calls on Congress to take action Florida 'red flag' law has removed hundreds of guns: report The Hill's Campaign Report: Rising Klobuchar, Buttigieg face test in diverse states MORE (D), who represents Parkland, endorsed former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for president because of Bloomberg's efforts to combat gun violence.