Florida has long been known as a gun-friendly state, but that appears to have changed following the Parkland School shooting. The legislature passed several new gun laws in record time, including one which allows police to seize firearms from someone determined to be a risk to themselves or others. Now, less than one week after the bill was signed into law, the police have made their first seizure.
Risk Protection Law
The new “risk protection” law allows for law enforcement to temporarily seize firearms & ammunition from a person deemed to be a potential risk to him or her self and or others. Before doing so, police are required to obtain a civil order from a judge by providing evidence of the potential danger present. The order not only allows police to seize firearms & ammunition but also prevents the individual from purchasing additional firearms while the order is in effect.
The Law in Practice
On March 16th, one week after the Governor of Flordia signed the law allowing seizures; Lighthouse Point City Police received such an order from Broward County Court. Subsequently, four firearms and 267 rounds of ammunition were seized from a 56-year-old resident. Before the new law, police would have faced a $5,000 fine for doing so. The temporary order requires another hearing, which is scheduled for March 28th, at which time the court could extend the order for up to one year.
There is no doubt this case will become a test for the new law. Unfortunately, this is the wrong case to be given such a distinction.
Why This Case is Different
The suspect has a history of aggressive interactions with police and has shown evidence of possible emotional disturbance – including claims that the FBI and neighbors were targeting him. Before the seizure order was granted, he was also the subject of an involuntary commitment to a local psychiatric treatment center. It sounds like if there is anyone who should have their firearms taken away, at least temporarily, this guy fits the bill right? Maybe, but he should not be the litmus test for all to follow.
Should He Have Owned Firearms?
First off the involuntary commitment should have barred this man from owning firearms anyways. This new law may have been used as means of speeding up the inevitable, however, as he remains hospitalized this may not have been necessary. Second, according to various reports, the evidence to support his condition was lengthy, including statements and writing about being targeted by the government and a belief that former President Obama had died but then came back to life so he could murder children for their souls. Again, sounds convincing but how will this set the bar for future review?
If Florida is going to utilize a “risk protection” law to deprive citizens of a Constitutional Right they not only need to use it sparingly, they also need clear guidance from the courts as to when they can or can not do so. While the first case may be an example of someone who should not have firearms, it is not the ideal case to provide the future guidance needed to avoid abuse.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.