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On Parkland anniversary, sheriff calls on lawmakers to close ‘red flag’ loophole

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County Sheriff John Mina renewed his calls Wednesday for politicians to close a loophole in Florida’s Risk Protection law, commonly known as the “red flag” law, that he said could put families and communities in danger.

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The law was enacted in the wake of the Parkland shooting, when a 19-year-old killed 14 classmates and three adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It became known that 911 was called on the teenager dozens of times and the FBI was tipped off twice, but no one intervened to seize the shooter’s guns to prevent the shooting.

The law allows certain people, including law enforcement, to petition a court to temporarily seize someone’s guns when they’re ruled to be a threat to themselves or others. It’s considered a vital law enforcement tool and has been used thousands of times in six years.

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Mina said the law doesn’t punish someone who disagrees with an order, such as a family member, from giving the person that has been flagged another weapon.

“If someone is going to harm themselves, or harm someone else, and we take their firearm away, or prevent them from buying a firearm… I think most people would think, well, if someone’s just going to give them a gun, without any consequences, I don’t agree with that,” he explained.

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Mina said he hadn’t encountered the loophole in Orange County, but heard about it from fellow law enforcement leaders elsewhere in the state.

It’s difficult to measure the effectiveness of red flag laws, since they’re successful when events don’t happen. However, Mina said he had spoken to lawmakers and the conversations have sparked some interest.

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“There are a lot of strong opinions [about guns] on both sides,” he said. “I just think it’s the right thing to do.”

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