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Florida’s Red Flag Law Saves Lives and Protects Due Process

October 22, 2019

A weeks-long investigation by the Tampa Bay Times showed that Florida’s red flag law has successfully deterred potential acts of violence while protecting due process since its passage in the wake of the mass shooting in Parkland. Twelve states have followed Florida’s lead since the Parkland shooting and enacted red flag laws, five of which were signed by Republican governors. Republican sheriffs from Polk County, Pinellas County and Hillsborough county all expressed their strong support of red flag laws to the Tampa Bay Times. 

The U.S. House of Representatives is advancing a strong red flag law that would provide critical federal grant funding for the seventeen total states with red flag laws, incentivize states to pass red flag laws and create a red flag process available in federal courts in all fifty states. 

The Tampa Bay Times writes

“Risk Protection Orders – in some places called Extreme Risk Protection Orders – now exist in 17 states and Washington, D.C. They have been issued because of threats of mass violence at schools and workplaces.They also are regularly ordered in cases of domestic violence, suicide threats and a vast range of mental health issues brought to light by troubling words and deeds.

In Hillsborough County, a woman pointed her rifle’s red laser at a neighbor, fired and laughed. (No one was hit.) A man with post-traumatic stress disorder thought the government was watching him and broke a responding officer’s nose. A husband arguing with his wife soaked the house in gasoline.


Even in America’s fierce battle over guns, red flag laws have strong support.”

Perpetrators of mass shootings and school shootings often display warning signs before committing violent acts. Red flag laws, also known as extreme risk laws, allow law enforcement officers to act on such warning signs by petitioning a court to temporarily remove guns from dangerous situations. Red flag laws are also associated with reduced rates of firearm suicide. 

Polling from Fox News showed that 88 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Republicans favor red flag laws. Yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to hold a vote on red flag legislation. The Senate should give all Americans the protections enjoyed by seventeen states and D.C. and pass red flag legislation into law. 

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