A Broward County judge on Friday issued what is thought to be Florida’s first order temporarily removing guns from a person under Florida’s new gun-control laws.
Four firearms and 267 rounds of ammunition were ordered removed from a 56-year-old Lighthouse Point man who experts determined was a potential risk to himself or others.
The guns and ammunition have been temporarily removed from the man under the state’s new “risk protection” law, which is also sometimes called “red flag” legislation, Lighthouse Point City Attorney Michael Cirullo confirmed.
“We know it’s the first case of its kind in Broward County and we think it’s the first one in Florida, under the new law,” Cirullo said. “Up until the introduction of this law last week, there was no process for us to protect the public in this kind of situation.”
Before now, 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, he said.
Lighthouse Point police made the request on March 14, one week after they were called to his apartment building to conduct a welfare check on the man, who they said was behaving strangely. Authorities said it was the latest in a series of encounters law enforcement had with the man, though he has no history of arrests in Florida.
Police were called after the man turned off the main electrical breakers to the apartment building, court records show.
The man was involuntarily committed for treatment in a separate proceeding and it is not yet known when he would be eligible for release, records show.
The guns that were temporarily seized were 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, according to the court order.
The man did not attend the initial hearing, which temporarily removes his access to guns, because he is hospitalized.
Under the requirements of the state law, Lighthouse Point police, Cirullo and the man whose guns were removed are due in court on March 28 for a final hearing to determine if the guns and ammunition should be removed for one year.
At that hearing, police would have to present “clear and convincing” evidence – more than was needed for the temporary removal of guns and ammunition – to keep the weapons in their custody for the next year.
If the judge grants that request, police could request an extension of the order if they are still concerned about the man having access to firearms.