Florida police seize mentally ill man's guns under new state law


  • Photo via Michael Saechang/Flickr
It’s only one step in a long journey towards commonsense gun reform, but last week a Broward County judge granted Florida’s first order temporarily removing guns from a person under the state’s new gun control laws, the Sun Sentinel reports.

After determining the 56-year-old man from Lighthouse Point was a potential risk to himself and others, authorities were ordered to remove four firearms, including a Ruger LCP .380 pistol, an M2 Mauser .45 pistol, a Charter Arms .357 mag snubnose revolver and a Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun, as well as 267 rounds of ammunition.

It was the first example of how law enforcement now has more power to act on evidence that an individual could possibly pose a threat. This new law was passed in light of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14

The bill – which, when signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, was the first major break between the Florida GOP and National Rifle Association in two decades – also places a number of restrictions on purchasing firearms, such as raising the minimum age to purchase all guns to 21 and expanding the waiting period to three days for all purchases.

Following the bill’s passage, the NRA immediately filed a lawsuit against the state – and NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer has called the law “unconstitutional.”

The name of the man whose guns were impounded hasn’t been released for privacy reasons. He was taken to a hospital for involuntary psychiatric treatment under the Sunshine State’s Baker Act – a law that allows authorities to involuntarily institutionalize people who have been deemed to be potential risk to themselves or others.

Officers were called to perform a standard welfare check on the man, who was said to have been behaving irrationally, according to Lighthouse Point police. Reportedly, the man turned off the main electrical breakers to his condominium building, telling officers he “was being targeted and burglarized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a neighbor who lives in [his] buildings,” the Broward County 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.’”

Law enforcement uncovered additional evidence on the scene, such as “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.

The new law requires that authorities notify state and federal law enforcement so that he will be flagged if he attempts to purchase a firearm in the future. Prior to the law’s passage, attempts such as this by officials could have been met with either an order of removal from office or a fine up to $5,000.

Naturally, following the seizure, Breitbart warned its readers “it begins,” as in, "here comes the government for your guns."

Breitbart does has a sliver of a point, though – a commonsense approach to gun laws has just begun.

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