Florida Passes Red Flag Law Allowing Law Enforcement to Seek Weapon Seizure If Someone Is Suspected of Being A Threat
Florida lawmakers recently passed what’s known as the “red flag law” (or Risk Protection Act) in Florida, allowing law-enforcement agencies to use their discretion in seizing firearms from someone if they believe that that individual poses a threat to themselves or others. According to the Florida Department of law-enforcement, statewide, there have been more than 1,700 filed since the law took effect in March 2018.
In order for law enforcement to move forward with an individual that they have concerns about, the agency petitions the judge to force that individual to surrender their firearms for a one-year maximum if they believe that an individual is a threat. It has been touted as a way to prevent future mass shootings, and many hope that it moves from operating as state law to becoming federal law. But does the law violate the constitutional rights of gun owners?
Constitutional Rights & Discrimination Concerns
Those who are opposed to the law have indicated that it violates the right to due process and there are inadequate protections in place to ensure that the law is not abused; for example, that anyone can come to law enforcement with supposed accusations that someone may be harmful; or someone can be discriminated against simply because they suffer from a particular medical condition or taking a particular type of medication. In other words, do they lay the framework for someone to lose their rights based on third-party allegations; without even first being convicted of a crime, having a criminal record, being adjudicated as mentally ill, etc.? And what about individuals who could have their guns seized simply for writing certain messages on social media, and any First Amendment rights that might implicate?
Some have also pointed out that laws already exist barring individuals with certain backgrounds from purchasing firearms and there are also concerns that law enforcement could abuse its discretion simply to deprive someone of the right to bear arms. In fact, some have proposed that, in place of laws like these, there simply be risk protection orders put in place that would allow the courts to temporarily remove firearms whilst also ensuring that due process rights are protected for these individuals. In an act of defiance, some counties have even gone so far as to declare themselves “Second Amendment sanctuary counties,” officially “discouraging” their law enforcement agency from carrying out any related weapons seizures.
According to what research has been done, it appears that red flag laws have primarily been effective at reducing firearm suicides, above all else.
Contact Our Florida Civil Rights Attorneys with Any Questions
If you have concerns that your civil/constitutional rights have been violated here in Florida, contact our experienced Miami and Orlando civil rights attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out how we can help.