WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw is echoing his support for Florida’s "red flag" law, amid calls from prominent national politicians for all state’s to adopt similar practices.
In an exclusive interview with CBS 12 News, Bradshaw said he had first hand knowledge of the "red flag" law, preventing violence in Palm Beach County. The law allows law enforcement to confiscate someone's guns after a judge’s order.
“[A young person] was actually on the internet with a picture of the gun in his hand saying he was going to go do some things at his school that he didn’t like,” he said. “We were able to get to the juvenile, get him the help he needed and take that firearm out of the situation.”
A "red flag" order, also called a Risk Protection Order in Florida, allows law enforcement officers to approach a judge with evidence of impending violence and weapons in a person’s possession. From there, police can seek temporary and permanent orders to remove a person’s guns, in hearing’s that allow the accused person to plead his-or-her case.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has obtained roughly 50 to 60 risk protection orders, since the law’s creation in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Bradshaw added that the orders are strictly handled by a unit in PBSO that pairs deputies with mental health professionals, tasked with helping those suffering from mental illness during policing.
JAY O’BRIEN: Do you think using this you’ve prevented an attack?
SHERIFF BRADSHAW: Absolutely. There’s no doubt in my mind.
Bradshaw added that despite the law’s creation in the wake of a mass shooting, it does not strictly prevent from mass casualty incidents.
Red flag laws can also protect in domestic cases, according to Bradshaw. Several studies, including one that examined similar laws in Connecticut and Indiana, found that "red flag" laws led to a decrease in suicides.
Some gun users have expressed worry that these laws allow for guns to be frivolously stripped from owners, violating the second amendment.
“There’s a due process,” Bradshaw said. “We go in front of the judge, present the facts to him, and then the judge makes the determination if he grants the order.”
Florida’s "red flag" law is among the roughly 17 across the nation that are being used as templates for a proposed national "red flag" law movement. President Trump has recently expressed support for the idea, in the wake of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Additionally, Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) have proposed national legislation urging "red flag" laws.
“If you look back at all the mass shootings, somebody knew ahead of time,” said Bradshaw, who testified in March before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in support of "red flag" laws. “The public is starting to get it. They realize they have to be part of the solution. We don’t have a crystal ball sitting around.”