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FL ‘red flag’ gun confiscation laws are targeting children & elderly, investigation reveals

kids with guns. (Gordon Tarpley/Flickr)
October 09, 2019

An investigation of Florida’s new ‘red flag’ gun confiscation law found about 2,500 residents have been the subject of confiscation orders since the law took effect in March 2018, including 100 children.

The 2018 Florida gun law allows police to confiscate firearms from the homes of non-criminals who appear to be at risk of violent behavior. The investigation revealed that children as young as 8-years-old have been the subject of these confiscatory orders, even though they cannot legally own or possess a firearm until they are age 21, Fox 4 reported.

“That’s insane,” Orlando defense attorney Kendra Parris said of the investigative report’s findings.

Part of the investigation included cases from inside the Polk County courtroom involving children and teens, which accounts for 20 percent of all red flag caseloads.

One case involved a 15-year-old teen, accused of threatening another student during a fight.

“He doesn’t even have a gun. He doesn’t have a BB gun. He don’t have nothing but you can’t just say the word ‘shoot,” his mother said.

His penalty was an order to stay away from all guns for one year; a sentence the teen reportedly hasn’t fought.

Three 14-year-old boys received the same penalty stemming from a gun-related prank where they put a note that said, “school shooting” in a teacher’s mailbox after being dared to do so.

Broward and Pinellas counties have seen similar situations, however, the number of children on the docket is much lower.

Judge Bruce Smith of the 10th Judicial Circuit said, “Since the statute has been implemented, I’ve been somewhat surprised at the number of cases we hear, but I’ve never felt these cases should not be in front of the court.”

The orders against minors are usually a 12-month gun-free cooling off period and Smith said, “I think they serve a purpose.”

Smith was asked why there are so many cases against minors. He replied, “I think it all boils down to the aggressive nature of our sheriff’s department.”

When Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd was asked the same question he replied, “First, it’s to put the parents on notice that you got to do a really good job at securing your firearms, so your children can’t get to it and number two, it’s putting the parents on notice about your kid’s got an issue here.”

“We’ve educated kids over and over again that words matter. If you threaten, we’re taking every threat serious,” Judd said.

By contrast, Parris warned of the negative mark a red flag order could hold over a child.

“We don’t know if this will impact their ability to apply to higher education facilities,” she said. “It’s too new, but I can tell you there are a lot of places that would look twice at a child that has been labeled dangerous by the state of Florida.”

Parris believes these cases could result in long term damage to these children.

Polk County Judge Michelle Pincket said, “It’s difficult to think that this might follow them forever, but on the other hand, we also see a lot of young people involved in these mass shootings and we have to balance it.”

Judd also said he would rather be safe than sorry.

“You and I both know that 99.9 percent of them are kids making stupid kid-like statements, but can you tell me which one means it?” Judd said.