TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Just under a month since the shooting in Buffalo, N.Y. that left 10 dead and three injured at a grocery store, there have been 49 shootings in the United States with at least four victims, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
Of the nearly 50 shootings, 17 occurred in states with what are known as red flag laws. Across the U.S., only 19 states and the District of Columbia have red flag laws, which allow law enforcement officers and courts to temporarily seize firearms from those who may be a danger to themselves or others. The effort to take firearms must be initiated by a court petition.
Florida first passed a red flag law in 2018, three weeks after 17 students and faculty were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland.
Other states soon followed Florida’s lead, passing legislation to allow what are called risk protection orders, while other parts of the U.S. already had similar legislation on the books for years. Those order are what allow courts to seize guns from individuals who may be a risk. Not every state has the same rules for firearms to be temporarily confiscated.
In Florida, law enforcement officers must file the petition for an RPO. For an order to be approved by a judge, officers must provide evidence that there is a risk which makes confiscating the respondents’ firearms necessary. State statutes provide for multiple types of evidence to be submitted in support of an RPO, or against one by the intended subject.
- A recent act or threat of violence by the respondent against himself or herself or others, whether or not such violence or threat of violence involves a firearm.
- An act or threat of violence by the respondent within the past 12 months, including, but not limited to, acts or threats of violence by the respondent against himself or herself or others.
- Evidence of the respondent being seriously mentally ill or having recurring mental health issues.
- A violation by the respondent of a risk protection order or a no contact order issued under s. 741.30, s. 784.046, or s.784.0485.
- A previous or existing risk protection order issued against the respondent.
- A violation of a previous or existing risk protection order issued against the respondent.
- Whether the respondent, in this state or any other state, has been convicted of, had adjudication withheld on, or pled nolo contendere to a crime that constitutes domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28.
- Whether the respondent has used, or has threatened to use, against himself or herself or others any weapons.
- The unlawful or reckless use, display, or brandishing of a firearm by the respondent.
- The recurring use of, or threat to use, physical force by the respondent against another person or the respondent stalking another person.
- Whether the respondent, in this state or any other state, has been arrested for, convicted of, had adjudication withheld on, or pled nolo contendere to a crime involving violence or a threat of violence.
- Corroborated evidence of the abuse of controlled substances or alcohol by the respondent.
- Evidence of recent acquisition of firearms or ammunition by the respondent.
- Any relevant information from family and household members concerning the respondent.
- Witness testimony, taken while the witness is under oath, relating to the matter before the court.
- (d) A person, including an officer of the court, who offers evidence or recommendations relating to the cause of action either must present the evidence or recommendations in writing to the court with copies to each party and his or her attorney, if one is retained, or must present the evidence under oath at a hearing at which all parties are present.
Officers must also provide a list of the weapons, ammo, locations of weapons and ammo, and an affidavit that the list is accurate. If a petition is granted, family or household members of the individual whose weapons are being confiscated must be informed.
The respondent must undergo counseling, and they will be prevented from purchasing firearms in the state of Florida for the extent of the order, up to 12 months long. RPOs may be renewed within 30 days of an order ending.
Below is a list of the shooting incidents reported and archived by the GVA, sorted by date of occurrence, ending with the May 14 shooting in Buffalo, N.Y.:
|Date||State||City||# Killed||# Injured||Red Flag Laws|
|4-Jun-22||Texas||El Paso (Socorro)||0||5||No|
|23-May-22||South Carolina||North Charleston||0||5||No|
|17-May-22||California||Palo Alto (East Palo Alto)||1||3||Yes|
|15-May-22||North Carolina||Winston Salem (Winston-salem)||0||7||No|
|15-May-22||North Carolina||Elizabeth City||0||4||No|
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