TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — In Maine, family members of mass shooting suspect Robert Card said they tried to notify law enforcement of his mental health issues and his access to weapons before the incident. In Florida, there is now a “red flag” law that allows weapons to be taken from people who are having a mental health crisis.
“If there is a family who is in a situation where they are concerned about a loved one, they can go to a law enforcement agency and that law enforcement agency — in Hillsborough County, it’s actually done through the attorney at the law enforcement agency — and that law enforcement agency will file what’s called a risk protection order,” Hillsborough County State Attorney Susan Lopez said.
She said the law is saving lives.
“This is a way for families or members of the community to go to law enforcement and express their concerns when there is a challenge with a mental health struggle and someone who has access to a firearm,” Lopez said.
In Polk County, nearly 400 risk protection orders have been filed in the last year.
The law was put into place after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the law is a way to temporarily take weapons from someone in crisis.
“The risk protection order is nothing more than a timeout, and that timeout is when someone is in significant mental distress and or, they’ve used the weapon in the commission of a felony to assault someone,” Judd said.
Judd said there are ample due process protections within the law.
“We’re not violating people’s second amendment rights,” Judd said. “There is significant due process. It’s not a unilateral action by law enforcement. It’s simply a timeout when people are in significant mental distress, or having anger management issues, where they are threatening to kill someone.”