A Single Florida County Seized 412 Guns Last Year Under the State’s Red Flag Law

Broward County officials used Florida’s red flag law 255 times last year. (Photo: Wikmedia Commons)

A new report from a gun control group has found that law enforcement officials in Broward County, Florida, seized 412 guns last year by filing 255 petitions under the state’s extreme risk protection order law (aka, “red flag” law).

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the organization behind the report, believes its findings provide evidence that similar red flag laws should be implemented by all 50 states.

“Extreme risk laws are a proven way for law enforcement to take action, without resorting to the criminal justice system, before gun tragedies like mass shootings and suicide occur,” the report states. “These findings provide compelling evidence that we hope will help support more states in passing—and effectively implementing—their own extreme risk laws.”

In Florida, only law enforcement officials can request an ex parte order from a judge to seize an individual’s firearms. If a judge grants the request, the individual (or “respondent”) must surrender his or her firearms without a hearing or trial.

After the property has been confiscated, the court schedules a hearing at which the petitioner must present “clear and convincing” evidence that the respondent poses a serious risk to himself or others. The judge then decides whether to dismiss the red flag order or grant a “final order,” which can prohibit the respondent from possessing firearms for up to one year.

SEE ALSO: Florida Referendum to Ban Semi-Autos Fails with 19% of Needed Signatures

In Broward County, judges granted ex parte orders in all 255 cases between March 9, 2018, and March 9, 2019. In other words, in no instance did a judge refuse to grant an order to seize an individual’s firearms.

Judges granted final orders in 87 percent of the cases, and only dismissed or denied 11 percent. Giffords researchers could not determine the final outcome in two percent of the cases.

A few other stats to note:

  • Demographics: 67% of respondents were white, 17% were black, 6% were Hispanic, 1% were Asian, and 9% were identified as “other.”
  • Hundreds of Petitions: Broward County didn’t even file the highest rate of petitions in Florida. Both Polk and Pinellas Counties issued more, and Polk issued twice as many per 100,000 residents.
  • Types of Threats: More than half (55%) of cases involved threats of homicide, 48 percent involved threats of suicide, and 29 percent involved threats against a family member or intimate partner.
  • Firearms: 412 total firearms were seized. Law enforcement seized an average of three firearms per person, and one person had 67 firearms confiscated.

The most common critique of red flag laws notes the lack of due process prior to the seizure of private property. The Giffords study both acknowledges and dismisses this fact:

SEE ALSO: Florida Republicans Back Proposal to Restrict Private Gun Sales, Impose Three-Day Waiting Periods

“Ex parte orders are granted by a judge in response to a petition, without the opportunity for the respondent to attend a hearing. This exception to normal due process requirements is permitted due to the emergency and often volatile nature of ERPO cases.”

The report highlights a number of case studies involving individuals who threatened to commit mass homicide at a school, threatened to commit suicide, threatened construction workers with a knife, and suffered from “extreme delusions and unsafe handling of firearms.”

But the report fails to include the data from the other incidents, and Giffords did not respond to a request from GunsAmerica to provide that additional information.

It’s also worth noting that in their praise for Florida’s red flag law, the report’s authors fail to answer the most pertinent questions that might prove or disprove the law’s efficacy.

There’s no mention, for example, of whether the new red flag system is actually more effective than previous laws that allowed law enforcement to disarm suspects. The report also fails to say whether the individuals whose firearms were seized went on to commit crimes or harm themselves, and it doesn’t explain how law enforcement know that they have seized all of a person’s firearms.

GunsAmerica posed these questions to Giffords and has yet to receive a response.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 44 comments… add one }
  • John July 17, 2020, 8:58 pm

    “The right of the people to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED” is carved in stone in the Bill of Rights. Nobody has the authority cancel any part of the 2A no matter who they are, plain and simple.

    Any law that runs counter to the US Constitution is unlawful, making it null and void. Any first-year law student knows that, and the courts commit war on the Conststution when they violate our guaranteed rights.

  • Jay February 16, 2020, 6:44 am

    The Road to Serfdom is paved with the lose of essential Liberties!

  • chupakis February 15, 2020, 11:01 pm

    More political “solutions”. Same predictable results.

  • Beachhawk February 15, 2020, 4:57 pm

    Broward County, Florida is the base of the most radical members of the Democrat Party. It’s also the county where Sheriff Israel’s deputies stood around outside a high school while an active shooter slaughtered 17 innocent students. In spite of that, Broward Democrats would happily disarm every county citizen and leave them defenseless in one of the nation’s most gun-friendly states if they were not preempted by state law.

  • Tom Robison February 15, 2020, 4:15 pm

    Take what the liberals in Florida are doing and multiply it by 100 times the effort to disarm the Nation that Michael Bloomberg will do should he become President. Since the red flag law outside of family and trusted friends I never talk about guns, never let my neighbors see or know of them because it’s so easy for a person to fabricate any story and the gestapo police will believe it. The saddest thing is the gun owners have failed to unite they talk tough but don’t join the NRA and fail to see that all of our gun rights are in serious jeopardy. In States like Virginia and Connecticut it’s illegal to possess a “black rifle” right now! Not that it will be they already did it! The politics of guns has never faced these strange dark times that we’re living in right now. The liberals cried and removed prayer and saluting the flag out of school now millionaire athletes disrespect our County on National TV. Yes people these are strange dark times we’re living right now!

    • Brett Johnson February 18, 2020, 9:00 am

      I really don’t have any strong feelings on guns but do you really have a problem with Christianity and patriotism not being enforced in schools! I guarantee you wouldn’t be okay with a different religion being forced in school, they should absolutely be removed. As for the whole “disrespecting the flag” thing, I really don’t see how some basketball players not standing that has any relavence to anyone’s real life?

  • Brian February 15, 2020, 1:04 pm

    The cops need to hang out around bars, and if some one looks to maybe be drunk, then can just confiscate the persons car. That would save so many traffic deaths, would it not?

    • Daniel Braatz February 27, 2020, 7:40 pm

      Yes! Or, better yet, why not ban vehicles with more than 75hp & cure drunk driving all together

  • Wesley Dale Franklin February 14, 2020, 9:18 pm

    Ulterior motives exist. NWO One world government? Per FBI Report of 2018 released 9-30-2019 more murders by knives than guns. For the time period 2018 1525 knife murders in USA vs. 297 using rifles. Roughly speaking 10,000 or more deaths yearly are due to drug overdoses. Does that make taking guns sound a little fishy?

  • Jim Keller February 14, 2020, 4:51 pm

    Of course they did! They have to play CYA after how poorly they handled the Parkland KILLER.

  • John February 14, 2020, 3:53 pm

    They took away his guns and what prevents him from getting more? Just a dumb idea by the same blindness that they have when writing they other gun laws.

  • Dexter Winslett February 14, 2020, 12:37 pm

    Water the Tree Of Liberty in Florida.

  • FOX February 14, 2020, 12:20 pm

    OF THESE SEIZURES HOW MANY ACTUAL CRIMES (THAT THEY HAVE PROOF OF) DID THEY PREVENT? BASED ON THIS DATA, THE ANSWER IS ZERO! THUS THE LAW IS USELESS!

  • Dave Brown February 14, 2020, 11:45 am

    Sorry Folks but this ain’t about The South or The North, give me a break, nor is it about the Left or the Right. If the Right was honestly Pro Gun they would free space all their office buildings as they are Gun Free Zones, and they would give US National Carry. Sorry, but at the age of 18 I got my Draft Number, and The Right To Vote. I have been a Card Carrying Independent all these years as I don’t like the R or the L as they act like Junior High School Gangs, plus they are out for Them, and down the line they consider US. Free Your Mind, Be Party Blind, don’t follow a party as you can actually get something done without their BS…………..

    • chumly February 15, 2020, 11:02 pm

      That was a good speech.

    • Big Al February 17, 2020, 12:50 pm

      You are so full of yourself, I don’t know where to start.
      Typical ‘independent’ crap, with NO proof that what you claim can be obtained.
      But ya’ll did succeed in giving us Clinton.
      Thanx, you shmucks.

  • Dan Ledbetter February 14, 2020, 10:23 am

    I thought the officer in the above pictured car was Scott Peterson of Broward county. I apologize, I was wrong, this officer is clearly not hiding !

  • Clint W. February 14, 2020, 10:19 am

    The movie, ‘Minority Report’, introduced the subject of preventing a crime before it happened by arresting those who intended to do it. That is what the Red Flag law is about. Tit for tat. All gun owners and freedom loving Americans need to demand equality in this law. Anybody with an alcohol problem and potential DUI traffic danger, needs to have their booze and vehicles confiscated, and treated just as any Red Flag victim would be, attempting to buy another firearm or vehicle. Anybody yelling, fighting or threatening at a sports event needs to have their golf clubs, ball bat, hockey stick, or soccer shoes taken away to prevent them from hitting and kicking. Anybody with loud mufflers on their cars, trucks, or motorcycles need to have their vehicles impounded for the hearing loss danger they represent. Anybody with a powerful car, truck or motorcycle, with a monster motor that will easily propel the vehicle to many times the speed limit, should have their vehicles confiscated due to the driving hazard they could become. All Democrats need to have their voting rights taken away for all the harm they do the country by supporting Socialist/Communist candidates. The list goes on and on, but of course, only the gun owner is to blame.

  • Dan Ledbetter February 14, 2020, 10:15 am

    We know all cases can be vastly different. Some folks shouldn’t have firearms, period! We all know the authorities have done a poor job at keeping the dreaded gun out of the hands of the criminal !…..
    I believe we all/most can agree the law abiding citizen do not commit gun crime………
    All law enforcement, judges, child protection services/ any enforcement arm of our legal system have discretion under the law. Discretion to invoke an emergency based on the immediate circumstances, Just as a pilot ( professional or private ) has the legal right to declare an emergency & do what ever he wants or sees fit so as to protect the lives & or safety of those aboard. (The pilot has to account for that declaration should he/she survive) . Now back to red flags “laws”. all enforcement branches are trained in verbal judo ( if you will), they are like our spouse or EX spouse, they know exactly how to push your buttons to get the favored response!…….. Once the favored response is received, their discretion is put in play !
    If you happen to think the court ( the final word. Trying paying for appeals ) generally sides with anyone except their officers of the court, especially in firearm/child protective cases, You should reconsider”…. “(Remember, any enforcement arm of the law is considered an officer of the court).

    They say …. If we’re going to error it will be on the side of safety!…….. That means basically ( if you’re the one) your rights are violated & you get to prove your innocence in court should you decide to peruse legal action.

    My point being is this……. avoidance with these people is favorable if your a decent person, if avoidance is not possible, cooler heads prevail. To law enforcement their is no such thing as righteous anger , unless of course it is to their benefit .

    One last thought here look up discretion & discriminate …….. Back to back in my Webster & definitions virtually mean the same thing , abet worded differently……………

    All authorities have discretion OR discrimination under the law, period( depending on Judges opinion )
    Just like you & I have in our home with our children, we will justify our actions ( Right. wrong or indifferent ) if we must…….
    Be careful, do the right thing. That does not mean the other side will comply!

  • David R Smith February 14, 2020, 10:03 am

    These “Red Flag Laws” are in direct violation of not just one Amendment of the constitutions Bill Of Rights, but it is in violation of at least three that I know of. The right to due process, The right to face your accuser, The right to keep and bear arms, It also violates the FACT that in the United States you are innocent until PROVEN guilty. This should be the first case the SCOTUS should hear and rule on.

  • Alej February 14, 2020, 9:51 am

    Virginia, Florida…. this is what happens when too many Yankees invade a Southern state.

  • Mike S February 14, 2020, 9:18 am

    Stop and frisk for White people. Unconstitutional, for sure.

    • Scott Roberts February 15, 2020, 10:20 pm

      Not that I expect the people who run this site to approve a comment where the (((gun grabbers))) are being called out by name.

  • Chuck February 14, 2020, 9:09 am

    Personally, I support the Red Flag Laws! If someone is a danger to themselves, me or my Family, I want something done!

    • Lojak February 14, 2020, 9:56 am

      The unfortunate truth behind these “Red Flag” laws is that upon being reported, a person is now guilty until proven innocent. All it takes is misunderstanding or misinterpretation for someone to be able to report you and now you are a “hazard” and have to pay a lawyer to prove your innocence, all the while every single firearm you own is taken from you. It’s not as simple as “if I just act normal nothing will ever happen to me…” Yell a profanity at your dog in your back yard, raise your voice in your home in jest, anything similar can be misinterpreted or taken out of context and used against you…

    • Frank February 14, 2020, 9:58 am

      I’m sorry you support Red Flag Laws. You DO NOT support the Constitution of this once great country. Anyone supporting ANY type of Unconstitutional gun confiscation, needs a history lesson, including Mr. Trump…another supporter AND promoter of unconstitutional gun confiscation.

    • David R Smith February 14, 2020, 10:04 am

      Then you should come up with a way to do that within the confines of the Constitution.

    • G.O.A. Patriot February 14, 2020, 11:15 am

      Maybe you should arm yourself IDIOT???

      • randy February 16, 2020, 12:05 pm

        nothing like having a conversation about a hot topic and someone resorting to name calling when they cannot make a clear point.

    • Dan Ledbetter February 15, 2020, 8:47 am

      Who decides if said person is a danger, an anonymous caller, an ex gal friend/spouse? If you think the police & or the “justice system ” can /will protect you & your family, well, I’d like to see you reconsider that thought
      process.This has the appearance of working just like a report to child protective services……
      By God you are guilty until YOU prove your innocence….. Absolutely no proof is needed , if you don’t comply a warrant is issued ( based on rumor not proof) and this can happen over & over again with no proof, just a BS anonymous call. Red Fag laws are for weak people whom worship government control.

    • chinchbug February 15, 2020, 11:05 pm

      If someone is a danger to me or my family, the last entity I’d like to have to rely on is government bureaucrats.
      If someone is a danger to me or my family, I’ll shoot them.
      (knock-knock)
      Who’s there?

  • Mauser6863 February 14, 2020, 9:04 am

    Before I moved to America, I lived in the People’s Republik of Kalifornia. California had a section 5150 of the Health & Safety Code, that allowed police officers and others to hold a person for 72 hours for psychological evaluation. It was so commonly used against the perceived “Crazy” that being “51-50” was a common term among the populace, like “187” in the penal code was for murder.

    My concern is the focus on guns, a tool and no the focus on people who are either perpetrators or victims. My question is, great, you collected some tools that can be used in crime, but what about the people??? Where they arrested too (Makes “Red Flag” laws meaningless) or detained or sent for evaluation. Did these inventions result in drug detox, foiling of terrorist plots, mass shootings, avoiding a suicide, etc?

    By putting the focus on “Guns” it takes the focus away from “People” and provides law enforcement with a data point to show they they are, “Doing Something”, whether it is effective at reducing crime, helping suicidal people, drug addicts or the mentally ill, doesn’t seem to matter.

    Laws and regulation that target “things” are usually ineffective as its the “People – Stupid”.

  • Jesse H Scott III February 14, 2020, 7:30 am

    End of article says it all…gun grabbers never like to talk about efficacy of their draconian laws.

  • Dr Motown February 14, 2020, 7:20 am

    So, were there 255 less murders in Broward County? I doubt it…..

  • Robert M Copley February 14, 2020, 6:49 am

    Mr. Messmer, the Yankee Carpet Baggers are still alive and well. We in Colorado are also affected not only by the Yankee Carpet Baggers but the Californicators as well.
    Colorado has also become a Red Flag State, not to mention a False Flag State under Communist Control.

  • Henry Stamm February 14, 2020, 6:49 am

    Typical Dimwit transplants and ignorant Florida citizens. The fascist (aka Democrats) at work.

  • Leighton Cavendish February 14, 2020, 6:42 am

    did they get their property back? when? in what condition?

  • Vance WOOLLEY February 13, 2020, 10:40 pm

    How many of the sustained orders were opposed with counsel and the introduction of professional testimony in support of the defendants and how many were effectively unopposed due to the cost of building the required case?
    At a minimum the State should be required to provide full funding for a defense up front. These cases require a vigorous examination to prevent vindictive action simply because of the hysteria of a politically active anti gun law enforcement cabal.

    • Robert M Copley February 14, 2020, 6:52 am

      Mr. Wooley, I concur with your train of thought and do well imagine that all costs will be incurred by the defendant or falsely accuse.

  • Robert Messmer February 13, 2020, 2:38 pm

    Florida had no need for a Red Flag law. It has for many decades the Baker Act. The Baker Act is even better than the Red Flag law because instead of simply grabbing a few guns, which may or may not be the only ones, it puts the individual into a treatment facility for counseling and observation.

    • Charles Heimerdinger February 14, 2020, 7:08 am

      When a person is taken into custody under the Baker Law that person is involuntarily committed to an institution for up to 72 hours. When this happens that person becomes ineligible under federal law to own a firearm. Like the Red Flag laws the Baker Law can and will be abused as the bar for what constitutes a mental illness that could lead to the commission of a crime. As far as I know mental illness is not yet a crime.

      In the meantime I firearm owners will have to consider hiding their best firearms and ammo in a secure location and not on their premises. One firearm that would be worth the risk of losing would kept at home for self-defense against intruders. The rest would be available for a “rainy day.”

      • Charles Heimerdinger February 14, 2020, 7:11 am

        The last sentence in the first paragraph should have read, “Like the Red Flag laws the Baker Law can and will be abused as the bar is lowered for what constitutes a mental illness that could lead to the commission of a crime..” My apologies for the omission.

  • Mort Leith February 13, 2020, 12:47 pm

    THIS is why I left FL over 15+ years ago !

    It is ripe with liberal yankees from the northeast,,, and not anywhere close to being “South”….

    They’re SO used to being slaves to their commie politicians up north that they think it’s ok to try to make everyone that lives in FL slaves as well…
    SMH

    • G.O.A. Patriot February 14, 2020, 11:20 am

      I saw the writing on the wall back in 86 and moved my family from Tampa back to where my roots were in the Blue Ridge Mtns!!! They had well began overrunning the place back then!

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