Florida’s new Risk Protection Order law, allowing for temporary gun seizures for up to a year if granted, is increasingly popular with police in the state.
The law is a byproduct of the sweeping Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act signed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott within a month of the Parkland shooting. Since then, the law has been used at least 467 times as of July 24, with some agencies establishing dedicated task forces to process the orders and remove guns, WFTS reported.
In Pinellas County, a five-man team has filed 64 risk protection petitions in court so far this year, the second highest number of cases in a Florida county. The figure was outpaced only by Broward County, who racked up 88 risk protection petitions since the law took effect in March. “In all, we’ve taken in about 200 firearms and around 30,000 rounds of ammunition,” said Sgt. Jason Schmittendorf of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s office.
To obtain an RPO, law enforcement officers or law enforcement agencies have to file a three-page affidavit with the court citing statements or actions made by the subject that cause them to believe the individual poses a “significant danger of causing personal injury” to themselves or others. The affidavit can either be filed for an emergency ex-parte hearing, which does not require the subject to appear in court, or a standard hearing where the individual can present their case to retain their gun rights. Those subject to ex-parte orders can request a hearing with the court within 14 days.
Some argue the law has gone too far in some cases, violating constitutional rights. “These are individuals who are often exercising their first amendment rights online, who are protecting constitutionally protected speech online,” said attorney Kendra Parris. “Maybe it was odious, maybe people didn’t like it but they were hit with the risk protection order because of it.”
Florida State Courts Administrator PK Jameson talks about the progress by courts in the Sunshine State to better implement Risk Protection Orders.