Florida considered by some to be model for 'red flag' laws

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Red flag laws allow a judge to take away a person's guns for up to a year if they have made credible threats.

The state of Florida is considered by some to be the best model in the nation when it comes to red flag laws.

Between March 2018, when the state passed red flag legislation, and Aug. 5, 2019, 1,707 people have had their weapons taken temporarily by a court. 

"It's working extremely well," said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

Gualtieri, who is also president of the Florida Sheriff's Association, is a supporter of the law.

"There's no doubt in my mind that the we have prevented violence because of it," Gualtieri said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis likes the policy as well, but he thinks when it comes to mass shootings, assessments that identify politically motivated threats and other warning signs could be more effective.

"You have some people who are just crazy and there's no clear motivation. So I think you have to be familiar with all those kinds of threats and have the warning signs identified and do something about it," DeSantis said.

Research by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shows that most mass shooters displayed four or five markers that should have been identified in a threat assessment. 

"Get the right people in the room, sharing the right information, you can see a person that's on this pathway and hopefully intercept that person," said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen.

On Aug. 1, the state launched a threat assessment portal for schools and law enforcement to share information. That information is confidential.

Under the same law passed after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, every school in the state must have a threat assessment team in place when the school year begins.