Is Florida’s Red Flag Gun Law a Blueprint for Broader Gun Control?

by | Oct 6, 2019 | Criminal Defense Attorney

Mass shootings have become an epidemic in America.

In the aftermath of these horrific events, politicians and the public alike have tried to find common ground on how to prevent future tragedies while preserving second amendment rights. 

Florida has been at the center of this debate, particularly due to the high-profile shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. Following the Parkland shooting in 2018, Florida took legislative action and passed a red flag law aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

What is a Red Flag Law?

Red flag laws or “extreme risk protection orders” gives law enforcement the authority to temporarily confiscate firearms from individuals deemed to pose a threat to themselves or others. Since the law took effect in Florida, there have been 2,227 risk protection orders (that’s nearly five a day) issued and 2,000 guns taken away statewide.

How it Works 

The red flag law gets set in motion when a police officer determines that an individual is at high-risk for using a weapon to inflict harm. The officer is permitted to petition the court to order the temporary removal of firearms and/or ammunition from the person thought to be dangerous. Once the order is in place, the at-risk individual is prohibited from possessing, owning, or purchasing any guns. After a few weeks, the judge will hold a final hearing to determine if the order should be extended up to one year. The at-risk individual may challenge the protection order at this hearing. 

Is the Red Flag Law Constitutional?

Many gun rights activists have opposed red flag laws claiming that it infringes on a person’s civil liberties and doesn’t allow for due process. Law enforcement officers reject this criticism and insist that the standard for removing weapons is high and requires clear and convincing evidence of imminent and extreme risk. 

In September 2019, the constitutionality of the law was challenged but ultimately upheld by  Florida’s First District Court of Appeal. Local authorities believe that extreme risk legislation is one of the best legal tools for combating gun violence and has stopped shootings, homicides, and suicides from occurring. 

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing a weapons charge in Palm Beach County, it’s imperative to speak with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call today (561) 820-4848 to receive a free consultation with our lead attorney Michael Rabideau.