In recent years, gun control has been a hot topic of discussion across the United States. Several states have enacted "Red Flag Laws" or Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) as a response to increasing gun violence, particularly mass shootings. Florida is one such state that has implemented this law, officially known as SB 7026, in the aftermath of the 2018 Parkland school shooting. While the law aims to keep guns out of the hands of individuals deemed a threat, it has faced considerable criticism for potentially infringing upon constitutional freedoms. This article delves into the details of Florida's Red Flag Law and raises some of the key concerns surrounding its implementation.
What is Florida's Red Flag Law?
Signed into law on March 9, 2018, SB 7026 was introduced with the primary goal of enhancing public safety. The media quickly termed it the "gun control bill," and it incorporated a variety of measures designed to improve school security and limit access to firearms for certain individuals. These measures include:
Prohibiting the purchase of rifles and shotguns by adults under 21.
Implementing a 3-day waiting period for buying rifles and shotguns.
Banning the sale, transfer, and possession of bump stocks and similar accessories.
Introducing the Red Flag provisions, also known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs).
How Does It Work?
The Red Flag provisions allow law enforcement officers to petition a court to temporarily confiscate firearms from an individual deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. This process occurs "ex parte," meaning without the accused being present or even aware that they are being tried. Critics argue that this violates the principle of due process and leaves the decision solely at the discretion of a judge, who is likely to err on the side of caution and approve the order.
Lack of Due Process
One of the most significant criticisms is that the Red Flag Law violates the principle of due process guaranteed under the 5th and 14th Amendments. The accused does not have the opportunity to be present, let alone defend themselves in court.
Infringement on Second Amendment Rights
The law has been criticized for infringing upon the Second Amendment rights of individuals, particularly those who have not been convicted of a crime.
Fourth Amendment Violations
The law also potentially violates the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, by allowing law enforcement to confiscate personal property without the individual's knowledge or consent.
Other Amendments at Risk
Critics also argue that the law may infringe upon the 1st, 6th, and 7th Amendments by not allowing the accused to face their accuser and by denying them a speedy and public trial.
According to Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Florida's Red Flag Law has been used approximately five times a day since its implementation. While the law may have prevented potential incidents, it also raises concerns about misuse and overreach.
A Call to Action
If you are concerned about the implications of Florida's Red Flag Law, consider reaching out to your local State House Representative, State Senator, or even the Governor's office. Making your voice heard is the first step in bringing about any potential change to legislation that you find problematic.
While the intentions behind Florida's Red Flag Law may be noble, it's crucial to scrutinize its potential impact on constitutional freedoms. Balancing public safety with individual rights is a challenging task, but any law that potentially infringes upon constitutional rights deserves rigorous debate and consideration.
1. [Text of Florida SB 7026](#)
2. [Florida House of Representatives](#)
3. [Florida Senate](#)
4. [Office of Governor Ron DeSantis](#)