Hundreds of people have been forced to surrender their guns in Florida under a new gun control law was passed.
The state passed a law titled the “Risk Protection Act,” known as a “red flag” law. The act enables people to submit a petition to authorities asserting that a particular person should not have firearms.
A petition must “Allege that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or herself or others by having a firearm or any ammunition in his or her custody or control or by purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or any ammunition, and must be accompanied by an affidavit made under oath stating the specific statements, actions, or facts that give rise to a reasonable fear of significant dangerous acts by the respondent,” according to the law.
The petitioner must also identify the quantities, types, and locations of all firearms and ammunition that the person who they’re trying to have action taken against owns.
After receiving a petition, a court must order a hearing within 14 days. During the hearing, the court may order the seizure of firearms from the person the petition is against.
“If the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or herself or others by having in his or her custody or control, or by purchasing, possessing, or receiving, a firearm or any ammunition, the court must issue a risk protection order for a period that it deems appropriate, up to and including but not exceeding 12 months,” the act states.
Hundreds of people have had petitions filed against them since the act was passed in March, and more than 450 have been ordered to surrender their firearms, according to a report from ABC Action News.
Law enforcement organizations in different counties in Florida have taken action, with Pinellas County creating a five-man team devoted to working only on risk protection cases. The team has filed 64 risk protection petitions in court, while Broward County, where the Parkland school shooting took place, prompting the law’s creation, has had 88 risk protection petitions filed.
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The first case of seizure took place on April 5. A SWAT team went to the home of Jerron Smith, 31, to seize his AR-15 rifle, as well as another rifle, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and other weapon-related items, reported Fox News.
Smith refused to voluntarily surrender the firearms and was forced to.
Officials said Smith was arrested in March on an attempted murder charge after firing six shots into the back of a car being driven by his friend.
While some support the new law, others are incensed, saying it violates the constitution. Attorney Kendra Parris said that some who have had petitions filed against them were merely talking about guns online.
“These are individuals who are often exercising their first amendment rights online, who are protecting constitutionally protected speech online,” Parris told ABC. “Maybe it was odious, maybe people didn’t like it but they were hit with the risk protection order because of it.”
Two people who were ordered not to have guns for a year and represented by Parris won their cases.
Using Pinellas County as an example, officials said the majority of petitions involved people with histories of mental illnesses who had threatened to hurt themselves. So far, judges have not denied any of the petitions filed in the county.
Besides creating the petition system, the new law raises the age in Florida to buy a rifle to 21 and establishes a three-day waiting period on gun purchases; the act also enables school employees, including teachers, to be armed.