With 22 states considering Red Flag legislation in the wake of the Parkland tragedy, lawmakers need only look to Florida to see how quickly these laws can help save lives: On Friday, just a week after Florida enacted legislation that includes a Red Flag provision, a Broward County judge granted a request from law enforcement that authorities temporarily remove firearms from a man who reportedly was having delusions and had a history of encounters with law enforcement.
“Lighthouse Point police made the request on March 14, one week after they were called to conduct a welfare check on the man, who they said was behaving strangely at his condominium building. Authorities said it was the latest in a series of encounters law enforcement had with the man, though he has no prior history of arrests in Florida. He had some prior arrests in Pennsylvania, records show.
Police were called after the man turned off the main electrical breakers to the condo building in Lighthouse Point, court records show. The South Florida Sun Sentinel is not identifying the man because of his medical condition.
The man told officers he ‘was being targeted and burglarized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a neighbor who lives in [his] building,’ the judge wrote in his order. ‘[He] could not describe the neighbor but stated that the neighbor [can] ‘shape shift, he can change heights and I’m not sure where he comes from’ and ‘to be honest, he looks like Osama Bin Laden.’
He also told officers that he had to turn off the electrical breakers because ‘they are electrocuting me through my legs.'”
“I think this is what the general public has been looking for — for law enforcement to be able to intervene in these kinds of situations — for a long time,” the Sun-Sentinel quoted the Lighthouse Point police chief as saying.
Like many mass shooters, the 19-year-old suspected of shooting and killing at least 17 people and injuring at least 17 others at a high school in Parkland, Florida, displayed warning signs before last month’s shooting. Since the tragedy, lawmakers in both parties have shown interest in Red Flag Laws, which empower family members and law enforcement to seek an Extreme Risk Protection Order, a court order temporarily restricting a person’s access to guns when they pose a danger to self or others.
In addition to the successful bipartisan push for Red Flag legislation in Florida, prominent Republicans including Govs. John Kasich (OH), Rick Snyder (MI) and Phil Scott (VT) have indicated a new openness to exploring these laws in the weeks since the Parkland shooting. Other legislation before Congress would create a federal Red Flag Law (S. 2521), and provide federal funding for states with Red Flag Laws (S. 1212 and H.R. 2598).
Six states now have Red Flag Laws – Florida, Oregon, Washington, California, Indiana and Connecticut – and similar legislation is currently pending in 22 other states: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and the District of Columbia. As the swift usage of Florida’s new Red Flag law makes clear, lawmakers in these states should work quickly to enact these bills and help law enforcement officials act on warning signs that someone poses a risk to self or others.
“This is not about the Second Amendment and it’s not about the NRA,” Lighthouse Point Mayor Glenn Troast told the Sun-Sentinel Friday. “We need common-sense gun laws and this is a common-sense gun law that gives police officers new tools they need to help us protect our community.”
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