Florida’s red flag law used nearly 9,000 times to date, 254 times in Duval

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — After the Parkland shooting, Florida became one of just two GOP-led states to enact a red flag law, which allows for the confiscation of firearms from a person if they’re deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.

Now, in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting, there are calls at both the national and state level to expand red flag laws.

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Florida’s law has been used to grant nearly 9,000 risk protection orders to date, according to the Office of the State Courts Administrator.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there are currently 2,845 active risk protection orders in effect as of Thursday.

Duval Clerk of Court records show Florida’s red flag law was used 14 times in 2018, when the law was passed.

That shot up to 112 times in 2019.

It was used 59 times in 2020 and 54 times in 2021.

While Duval has used the law 254 times, neighboring counties Clay, St. Johns, Nassau, Baker, Bradford and Union combined have used the law fewer than 50 times in its four-year existence.

State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Winter Park) called the law a “tremendous success.”

“But the red flag law that we have in Florida, it’s not perfect,” said Smith.

Smith wants state legislators to expand Florida’s law.

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Currently, only law enforcement can petition a court for a risk protection order, but Smith argues family members and loved ones should also have that ability.

“Having the opportunity for them to petition the court quickly to save lives I think is something that’s crucial,” said Smith.

There are also renewed efforts at the federal level to create a national red flag law in the wake of the Texas school shooting.

“They have been passed by state legislatures controlled by Republicans and Democrats,” said U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga., 6th Congressional District) on Thursday.

Tony Montalto, whose daughter Gina was killed in the Parkland shooting, noted red flag laws have bipartisan support and have been supported by both former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden.

“Where is the action from Congress? We need action. We need to find this middle ground that doesn’t infringe upon the second amendment rights yet finds a way to keep the rest of us safe,” said Montalto.