After a little over four months since Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the ‘red flag' law, more than 450 gun owners in the state have been ordered to give up their weapons.
On March 9, just a few weeks after the deadly Parkland Shooting, Gov. Scott signed the Risk Protection Order, which allows law enforcement authorities and family members to request a court order to restrict an individual from having access to firearms if they are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
The firearms can be removed from the person for up to a year and these individuals aren't allowed to purchase guns during this period.
However, the guns can't be seized by officers. If a person refuses to comply, then the police have to file a warrant and then prove probable cause to obtain the weapon.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s office in the Tampa, Florida area recently let an ABC Action News crew film some of the various firearms being held in its evidence room.
“You’ve got an AK-47 style here and an AR-15 style there. We've got some rifles and a cache of handguns,” said Sgt. Jason Schmittendorf. “In all, we’ve taken in about 200 firearms and around 30,000 rounds of ammunition."
The Pinellas County department has dedicated a five-man team to work on risk protection cases. So far, 64 cases have been filed.
"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," said Bob Gualtieri, Pinellas County Sheriff to WFTS-TV.
Another Florida county, Broward County has filed 88 risk protection petitions.
A week after the new gun-control law was put in place in Florida, a Broward County judge was the first to order that a 56-year-old Lighthouse Point man surrender his four firearms and 267 rounds of ammunition.
The Lighthouse Point Mayor applauded the bill.
Prior to the law, when officials would attempt to remove arms from a person they deemed a danger could be removed from office and fined up to $5,000.
“We put the safety of our residents first,” said Glenn Troast, Lighthouse Point Mayor. “This is not about the Second Amendment and it’s not about the NRA. We need commonsense gun laws and this is a commonsense gun law that gives police officers new tools they need to help us protect our community.”
Author's note: While we understand why Gov. Scott signed this law, it could lead us down a slippery slope. Yes, it's often a good thing in most cases that arms can be removed from those deemed a danger. But there should also be an option for these people to fight the court orders without it costing them so much money. It is very difficult to counter these cases. There need to be more consequences for when the court order is wrong. All of our rights are precious and need to be protected.
Editor's note: This is, of course, in response to the shootings at Stoneman Douglas. The correct answer was presented, arm certain of the teachers, make sure there is a good guy with a gun, to counter the bad guy with a gun. Laws that tighten gun control laws are not very useful. And I usually object to rules that apply to the whole population in order to regulate a few. I'm not saying this is wrong, but it does make me nervous.