Hundreds of Floridians had to give up their guns as part of the state’s new risk protection plan, which was a result of the outcry from students and parents for stronger gun control after the mass shooting in Parkland, which left 17 dead. More than 450 people have been ordered to hand over their guns since the legislation was signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott in April.
According to the protection plan, a petition must be filed against a person that claims they are either a danger to themselves or others. 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.
So far, approximately 200 firearms and roughly 30,000 rounds of ammunition have been confiscated since the plan’s enactment. In Broward County, where Parkland is located, there have been 88 risk protection petitions filed so far. In Pinellas County, a five-person team is assigned solely to work on the law and, according to Fox News, has filed 64 petitions. Every petition filed in Pinellas County has been granted by the judge.
“It’s a constitutional right to bear arms and when you are asking the court to deprive somebody of that right we need to make sure we are making good decisions, right decisions and the circumstances warrant it,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told the station in defense of the task force.
The question is: How do they know someone is unfit to carry a gun, and who is the ultimate judge? In March, the city of Orlando filed a petition against a 21-year-old student for posting on a forum that certain school shooters were his heroes. He talked about a couple of schools where he had been bullied and the petition stated he had thoughts of mass shooting, yet there was no evidence or detailed reports of where he made such threats.
Police confiscated his father’s gun. The student’s attorney protested, saying the man was shy and was just joining in on forum talk, that he had no intentions of shooting anyone, much less of carrying out a mass school shooting.
So, now what happens? The student is rightfully concerned about being labeled as mentally ill and having his rights restricted. While this new law has some positive changes, such as letting teachers be armed, the ability to abuse the power is exponential. Claiming to idolize school shooters may be sickening, but it’s not illegal. It’s not a threat to go on a mass shooting spree; it’s a statement protected by our freedom of speech. But in this case, it also led to a man losing his Second Amendment rights.
The new law also requires a three-day holding period before purchasing a firearm and has raised the age to 21 to be able to buy legally.