Over 450 people in Florida ordered to surrender guns under state's 'red flag' law


More than 450 people in Florida have been ordered to surrender their guns since March under a law passed after the Parkland school shooting, according to a local ABC affiliate.

The Risk Protection Act, a "red flag" law that Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed shortly after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in February, allows the state to take away guns from their owners if a judge finds they are a threat to themselves or others.

Under the law, the state can file risk-protection petitions against irresponsible gun owners in court.

Sgt. Jason Schmittendorf, who works in Pinellas County Sheriff's office, told ABC News that area officers have "taken in about 200 firearms and around 30,000 rounds of ammunition."

Around a quarter of the 467 risk-protection cases filed in Florida since March "involve concealed license firearm holders whose license temporarily is suspended once the order is granted," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

A majority of risk-protection cases have involved people with histories of mental illness who threatened to hurt themselves, according to an analysis of Pinellas County records by ABC.

According to reports that emerged in the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas shooting which left 17 dead, the accused shooter engaged in threatening and troubling behavior before he lashed out.

The measures signed by Scott on March 9 raised the minimum age for buying rifles in Florida from 18 to 21 and established waiting periods and background checks for gun buyers.

The law, swiftly passed after the Parkland school shooting on Valentine's Day, temporarily strips gun owners of their gun rights and hardware if a judge deems them to be a threat to themselves or others.

In Pinellas County, a 5-man team is devoted to working only risk protection cases. So far the team has filed 64 risk protection petitions in court, the second highest number of cases in a Florida county. Broward County has the most, 88 risk protection petitions (as of early-July) since the law took effect in mid-March.

“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,” explained Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri when asked why he decided to devote an entire unit to carry out the new law.

Sheriff Gualtieri is especially passionate about the law and how it was born. He chairs the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission. The task force was formed after the high school shooting to analyze details from the incident in an effort to prevent future school shootings.

Records show in Pinellas County, the majority of risk protection cases have involved people with histories of mental illness who threatened to hurt themselves, not others.

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