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Florida police confiscate guns for the first time under state's new gun-control laws

Police confiscate a man's firearms for first time under Florida's new gun control laws. Police determined the 56-year-old man was a “potential risk to himself or others." \n(Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Police in Broward County, Florida, seized a middle-aged man’s firearms and ammunition Friday after a county judge issued the state’s first temporary firearm seizure under the state’s new “red flag” law.

What happened?

According to the Sun-Sentinel, Lighthouse Point Police seized four firearms and more than 250 rounds of ammunition from a 56-year-old man who police determined was a “potential risk to himself or others."

In addition, the man was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital to undergo psychiatric treatment. Florida's Baker Act allows judges, law enforcement officers, and medical professors to temporarily commit residents for up to 72 hours who are deemed risks to themselves or others.

Also, the man is prohibited from buying or possessing firearms and ammunition in the near future.

What led to the order?

The Sun-Sentinel has the details:

Police were called after the man turned off the main electrical breakers to the condo building in Lighthouse Point, court records show. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is not identifying the man because of his medical condition.

The man 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 his 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.’"

He also told officers that he had to turn off the electrical breakers because “they are electrocuting me through my legs.

Lighthouse Point Police Chief Ross Licata told the Sun-Sentinel that law enforcement has had multiple encounters with the man, but he was never arrested prior to his commitment.

"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," he said.

Previously, officials were prohibited from seizing firearms from people they thought were dangers to themselves or others. According to the Sun-Sentinel, officials could be fined or removed from office if they did.

What happens next?

According to the new law, the officials who seized the man's firearms are due in court on March 28. At that hearing, a judge will determine whether or not the man's firearms and ammunition should remain in police possession for the next year.

At the hearing, police will need to present "clear and convincing" evidence to prove the seizure needs to remain in place. Police will have to present additional evidence to strengthen their case if they want the seizure to remain in place. If the judge approves it, law enforcement can apply for extensions each year.

One last thing…
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