New Law in Florida Requires Guns Surrendered Out Of Abundance of Caution
After the Florida Parkland school shooting, many are concerned about the safety of themselves and their children. However, does Florida’s new law ordering many to surrender guns infringe upon our state and federal civil rights?
The Florida Risk Protection Order Act temporarily strips gun owners of their gun rights and ammunition if a judge deems them “a threat to themselves or others.” The law has resulted in more than 450 people having to surrender their guns to their County Sheriff’s office. Some individual counties have reported seizing up to 200 firearms and approximately 30,000 rounds of ammunition as a result.
In Pinellas County alone, a team of five has already filed 64 risk protection petitions in courts, where the Judge has granted the second highest number in all of Florida (i.e. every petition filed). Broward County comes in at number one, with more than 88 risk protection petitions filed as of July since the law took effect in March. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the total number of risk protection petitions filed in all of Florida is close to 500 as of late July, over a quarter of which have involved concealed license firearm holders whose licenses have been temporarily suspended once the order is granted.
Grey Areas & Litigation
Regardless of whether people now feel safer, does this new state law violate the constitution? What about the “grey areas” and the many individuals who have no history of mental illness or violence, but have had their first amendment rights infringed upon? Some are claiming that they have had their guns taken away from them after protection orders were issued simply due to statements made online, which arguably violates First Amendment rights and constitutionally protected speech. For example, some have had a protection order issued against them even though they do not own guns.
As a result, many believe that the law needs to be amended in order to better-define what constitutes an “imminent threat,” as well as requiring proof of gun ownership or a history of attempting to purchase guns. In many areas around Florida, the risks posed and the protection offered under this new law have arguably been unclear.
The National Rifle Association has already filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging some aspects of the law, including the ban on gun sales to anyone under the age of 21.
Orlando, Florida Civil Rights Lawyers
Under the Florida and U.S. Constitution, you are afforded certain protected rights, including the right to free speech. When those rights are infringed upon, you should speak with an experienced civil rights attorney to defend and restore those rights. Contact our Orlando civil rights lawyers at the Baez Law Firm today to find out more.