What are ‘red flag’ laws and how do they work?

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Texas elementary school massacre has some calling for more “red flag” laws, similar to what we have in Florida.


It’s known in the statutes as a risk protection order (RPO). It allows courts to temporarily seize firearms from anyone believed to be a danger to themselves or others.

Nearly 6,000 petitions for final RPOs have been filed from March 2018 to March 2022 statewide, according to data from the Florida Office of the State Courts Administrator.

READ: Texas school shooting live updates: Vigil held in Uvalde to remember victims

Locally, 118 RPOs have been filed in Seminole County, 20 in Orange County, 101 in Brevard County and more than 60 in Volusia County.

Orange County Sheriff John Mina said it works.

“I certainly think red flag law is making a difference and gives us yet an additional tool to prevent someone from purchasing a firearm or taking a firearm out of a home or someone has made a statement or done something or been witnessed to do something that they think they’re a danger to themselves or others,” Mina said.

READ: Texas elementary school shooting: A timeline of events in the mass shooting

Only law enforcement officers can file a petition for an RPO.

Democratic lawmaker Carlos Guillermo Smith is pushing to expand that to allow loved ones to file a request, arguing that they know the person best.

READ: How to talk to your kids about school shootings

Nineteen states and Washington D.C. have some type of “red flag” law.

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