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Democrats seek to expand ‘Red Flag' gun safety law

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Democratic lawmakers are pushing legislation the would allow family members to ask a court to take away a relatives gun if they believe there’s a risk to themselves or others.

The bill would expand Florida's Red Flag law passed last year after the Parkland school shooting and it is already drawing concerns from Second Amendment advocates.

One provision of last year's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act allows law enforcement to ask a court to take away a person's firearms if they are determined to be a danger to themselves or others. 

State Sen. Lori Berman filed a bill that would allow family members to do the same.

“Who better to determine that someone is at risk than someone living close to them,” Berman said.

Kate Kyle, with Mom’s Demand Action, said family members could act as a first line of defense.

“Families know best what's happening in their own systems and they can be observing and watching these incremental changes that may be happening,” Kyle said. 

There aren’t exact numbers for how many times the red flag law has been used by law enforcement since it took effect in July, but Berman estimates it had been invoked 400 times in Broward County alone.

Former NRA President Marion Hamer said the current law is already open to potential abuse by law enforcement. She worries adding in family dynamics would increase that risk.

“You don't want family members using a piece of legislation to be vindictive or vengeful or just plain mean,” Hammer said.

Berman said those concerns are overstated.

“I don't think a family member would really want to go to court and subject themselves and their family to that unless they were really afraid of a true danger,” Berman said.

The legislation would also prohibit a person from keeping a gun in their home if they live with someone who has had their right to own a firearm revoked unless it is either disabled or kept in a locked safe.

Because families were intentionally left out of the original law, observers believe it's highly unlikely Democrats will be able to be able to push through the additional language this year.