What a successful red flag law looks like: Florida seized guns from 2,654 people since Parkland | Thursday Morning Coffee

October 24, 2019 7:10 am

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

With House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rob Kauffman vowing that as long as Rob Kauffman is in charge, there’ll never be a vote on a red flag law in his committee, other states are using their own red flag laws to go out, and, like, stop crimes and keep people from getting killed and stuff.

And it’s happening in Florida.

According to an analysis by the Tampa Bay Times, since the February 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. that claimed 17 lives, authorities in the ‘Gunshine State,’ as it’s known, have seized weapons and ammunition from 2,654 people they believed posed an immediate threat to their own safety or to public safety.

That figure, valid as of August, does not include the number of weapons that have been seized. As the newspaper notes, no one appears to be keeping a running tally of that figure.

Rep. Rob Kauffman, GOP chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said at a voting meeting on guns Tuesday, September 24, that he would not ever allow a vote on a red flag law. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

As the Tampa Bay Times reports, Florida enacted its red flag law in March 2018 — just weeks after the Parkland killings. It was signed into law by then-Gov. Rick Scott, a firebrand conservative, who has nonetheless continued his support for red flag laws as one of Florida’s United States senators.

Since the law went into effect, Florida has created special “risk protection courts,” that do one thing, and one thing only: Act on requests for emergency risk protection orders, as red flag requests are known in legalese.

Do they work? They sure do. The Times’ story recounts the smooth machinery of these courts, including the case of one man who was “accused of threatening to shoot up a Walmart near Tampa the day after a gunman opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso and killed 22 people.”

Pews Charitable Trusts

As the Capital-Star’s Stephen Caruso reported earlier this month, there’s a well-documented link between firearms and suicide. And well-crafted red flag laws are universally recognized as an antidote to that problem.

Kauffman is pushing a bill tweaking the state’s loophole-ridden mandatory commitment law, which also results in some people (but not all of them) surrendering their firearms when they’re believed to pose a danger to themselves and others. Meanwhile, the Senate sponsor of a red flag proposal is said to be tweaking his bill to get it into passable shape.

“There are difficulties in attempting to keep guns out of the hands of folks who should not have them,” Kauffman said in September. “We are doing the absolute best we can.”

Maybe. But Florida is doing it better.

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Our Stuff.
Stephen Caruso
, who road-tripped it to Pittsburgh, leads our coverage this morning, where he found President Donald Trump slamming Dems and pitching a NatGas future to a roomful of shale industry heavy-hitters and House Speaker Mike Turzai.

Will Marsy’s Law votes count? Elizabeth Hardison spent her day hanging out in Commonwealth Court where forces on both sides of the controversial constitutional amendment duked it out on Wednesday.

Sarah Anne Hughes caught up with Democratic lawmakers who want Pa. to ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth, saying it’s not therapy. It’s abuse.

And ‘dual victims’ caught in the cracks of Pa.’s criminal justice system rallied Wednesday, where they called for justice.

On our Commentary Page, Opinion regular Lloyd E. Sheaffer says AG Bill Barr’s speech at Notre Dame didn’t have a thing to do with Christianity.

En el Estrella-Capital, ¿Vales educativos suponen una mejor educación? Nuevas investigaciones dejan interrogantes.

Joe Biden campaigns in Pittsburgh (Politico – screen capture)

Joe Biden’s
 fundraising is starting to slip in Pennsylvania, the Inquirer reports.
A top Pa. Senate aide is paid by taxpayers but is ‘wining and dining’ on a campaign credit card, Spotlight PA reports (via the Post-Gazette).
PennLive’s John Baer has a few thoughts about our very weird national political scene.
U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, R-9th District, was among the Republicans who stormed into a closed-door impeachment deposition on Wednesday, the Morning Call reports.

Here’s your absolutely on-brand #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

Philly’s street cleaners want better safety gear, WHYY-FM reports.
Secondary schools in Millcreek Township, in suburban Erie, remain closed today after a natural gas smell was detected on Wednesday, the Erie Times-News reports.
Joe Biden visited his childhood home and a local hoagie shop during a swing through Scranton on Wednesday, the Times-Tribune reports.
Philly Mayor Jim Kenney says he’s backing Elizabeth Warren for presidentPoliticsPA reports.
potential eVerify deal would confer legal status on farmworkers, reports.
The U.S. Senate has rejected an attempted repeal of the cap rule for state and local tax deductions, Roll Call reports.

What Goes On.
After three whole days of work, the House and Senate are out until next week.
11 a.m., Main Rotunda: Families and intellectually disabled individuals will show their support for a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and its Office of Developmental Programs.

Gov. Tom Wolf
 once again has no public schedule today.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
5:30 p.m.: 
Reception for Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione
5:30 p.m.: 
Reception for Rep. Danilo Burgos
6 p.m.: 
Reception for Sen. John Yudichak
6:30 p.m.: 
Birthday reception for Sen. Vince Hughes
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out a truly offensive $15,750 today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to longtime Friend O’the BlogKevin Zwick, at the University of Pittsburgh, who celebrates today. Congrats, and enjoy the day, sir.

Heavy Rotation.
It’s back to the 1990s today. Here’s Canada’s Crash Test Dummies and ‘Afternoons and Coffee Spoons.’

Thursday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
The Ottawa Senators snapped a four-game losing streak, beating the Red Wings 5-2 on Wednesday.

And now you’re up to date. 

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.