Police seize first guns under new law passed after Parkland

Four firearms and 267 rounds of ammunition was seized from a man found to be a potential risk.

Two AR-15 rifles sit on a table after being surrendered during a City of Miami gun buy-back event in Miami, Florida on March 17, 2018. (Photo credit: WISE/AFP/Getty Images)
Two AR-15 rifles sit on a table after being surrendered during a City of Miami gun buy-back event in Miami, Florida on March 17, 2018. (Photo credit: WISE/AFP/Getty Images)

A Broward County judge granted Florida’s first order temporarily removing guns from a person under the state’s new gun control laws.

Last week, four firearms and 267 rounds of ammunition were ordered removed from a 56-year-old man from Lighthouse Point, Florida determined to be a potential risk to himself or others.

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Under new gun control legislation, passed weeks after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School claimed the lives of 17 people, law enforcement has more power to act on evidence that an individual may pose a danger. The bill, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott (R), also places several restrictions on purchasing firearms, including raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 and extending the waiting period to three days for the purchase of all firearms. After the bill was signed, the National Rifle Association immediately filed a lawsuit, suing the state over some aspects of the law, including the legality of banning gun sales to people under the age of 21.

The law was passed after an extensive lobbying effort by Parkland students, who were pushing for even more aggressive measures.

The man, whose name has not been publicly released due to his health, was taken to a hospital for involuntary psychiatric treatment under the state’s Baker Act, which allows law enforcement to involuntarily institutionalize those determined to be a potential risk to themselves or others. According to Lighthouse Point police, they were called to perform a welfare check on the individual who was said to be behaving erratically. The man turned off the main electrical breakers to his condominium building and told officers he “was being targeted and burglarized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a neighbor who lives in [his] building,” the judge wrote in the order. “[He] could not describe the neighbor but stated that the neighbor [can] ‘shape shift, he can change heights and I’m not sure where he comes from’ and ‘to be honest, he looks like Osama Bin Laden.’”

Police officers also found evidence the man had “a voluminous amount of notes containing numerous references to former President Barack Obama, that he was killed in the 1980s but came back and now murders children to place their spirits into [the man’s] head, is a member of [al-Qaida], and is [the man’s] enemy,” according to the judge.

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Officers spotted the weapons during the welfare check and subsequently temporarily seized a Ruger LCP .380 pistol, an M2 Mauser .45 pistol, a Charter Arms .357 mag snub nose revolver and a Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun, in addition to the 267 rounds of ammunition.

As required by the new law, authorities will notify state and federal law enforcement so that the issue would be flagged if the man attempts to purchase a gun in the future. Previously, officials who attempted to remove guns from a person they thought was a danger could be removed from office and fined up to $5,000.

“I think this is what the general public has been looking for — for law enforcement to be able to intervene in these kinds of situations — for a long time,” Lighthouse Point Police Chief Ross Licata told the Orlando Sun Sentinel.

Detractors of this kind of legislative gun fix have already begun to rally against it, calling the law a second amendment violation. Breitbart warns, “it begins,” stoking fear among the right that the government is coming for everyone’s guns.

Lighthouse Point Mayor Glenn Troast said of the new legislation that “this is not about the Second Amendment and it’s not about the NRA. We need commonsense gun laws and this is a commonsense gun law that gives police officers new tools they need to help us protect our community.”