• About 1 in 10 risk protection requests denied in Central Florida

    By: Karla Ray

    Updated:

    ORLANDO, Fla. - President Donald Trump is calling for more red flag laws in the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH.

     

    The laws allow guns to be taken away from people who pose a risk to themselves or the public. Florida launched its risk protection law last year after the Parkland school shooting.

     

    Investigative reporter Karla Ray looked into how many of the petitions have been filed in Central Florida, and found about one in 10 local petitions were thrown out by judges.

     

    Eyewitness News spoke with former Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Fred Lauten who oversaw the implementation of the legislation last year, to find out whether he thinks the law has made Floridians safer and whether residents can set an example for other states.

     

    Read: More 9 Investigates stories

     

    The day before 26-year-old Richard Clayton, of Winter Park, was arrested on suspicion of making an online threat to Walmart, warning he was about to have access to an AR-15, Winter Park police obtained an emergency risk protection order against him.

     

    It will now be up to a judge to decide whether to make the risk protection order permanent for up to the next year.

     

    “It’s a little hard to measure how much it has helped,” Lauten said, noting that it will not be known whether any tragedies were prevented by enacting the law.  It was really some of the fastest legislation we've seen.  Usually, the court system can create forms when we know new legislation is coming, but we didn't have any of that.

     

    9 Investigates created a database using court records from Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Volusia, Brevard and Lake counties, and found local law enforcement agencies have requested risk protection orders more than 280 times over the last year and a half.

     

    Though most of those petitions were approved, Ray found about 1 in 10 were denied by local judges. Lauten recalls denying one petition because the law enforcement agency requesting the order failed to prove the respondent was a public safety threat.

     

    “It's between the civil burden and criminal burden; clear and convincing evidence they're a danger to themselves or others by having their guns,” Lauten said.

     

    Florida is one of the few states with such a law in place. Lauten points out the orders can be put in place for a maximum one year at a time, and they are not a cure-all.

     

    This is as piece of paper. If someone is intent on harming someone, and doesn't care if they're killed by law enforcement in the process, that's not going to stop someone who is that intent on harming other people, Lauten said.



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