Do red flag laws work to prevent gun violence?

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 8:43 AM CDT
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(CNN) - Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are proposing new gun restrictions in the wake of the Uvalde school massacre.

One proposal is pushing states to offer red flag laws, also known as risk protection orders or RPOs. They allow authorities to seize guns and block the sale of firearms to people showing signs of violent intent.

Florida enacted such a measure after the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people.

A Florida man who recently had to turn over his guns said it was because he sent a photo of himself with a gun pointed at his chin to a loved one on the anniversary of his son’s death.

“Listen, I’m a strong second amendment guy. I’m a conservative. I believe risk protection orders work,” Sheriff Grady Judd said.

The risk protection orders usually last a year and the individual cannot buy guns during that time either.

“It’s simply a cooling-off period until you have some mental health counseling,” Judd said.

Florida is one of 19 states that have passed a law like this. It is one of just a few red states with such legislation.

“We left nothing on the table to make sure that we prevented what happened here at Douglas and happening in the state of Florida again,” former state representative Jared Moskowitz said.

He graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

In 2018, after a gunman killed 17 students and faculty there, lawmakers passed legislation that not only established its red flag law but also raised the age requirement to buy a gun from 18 to 21, added a 3-day waiting period, added a guardian program which allows trained school staff to carry guns and set aside about $400 million for mental health and school security.

Gun reform with bipartisan support passed by a Republican legislature was signed into law by a Republican governor in just a matter of weeks.

“Not one Republican who voted for that bill in Florida has paid a political price for protecting kids and doing the right thing,” Moskowitz said.

Judd said everyone has to “work together.”

Data obtained by CNN showed that more than 8,000 orders have been granted across the state, but the National Rifle Association has sued the state of Florida over gun reform legislation and gun advocates are voicing concerns.

But as the country once again grapples with finding solutions to end horrific school shootings, Florida Republicans and Democrats say the red flag laws are working.

“Nothing is more important than protecting our children, nothing,” Judd said.

Following recent massacres in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, those looking to change gun laws see a blueprint in Florida on how to move forward.

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