The close-to-home reason why I support the new gun laws passed by the Florida Legislature

guns  open carry

I subscribe to a service called “Baylawsuits,” which provides tip sheets on the most newsworthy lawsuits coming out of the Pinellas and Hillsborough county courthouses.

Last week, a tip came in that read “Police seized guns from two men last month.” Because of all the attention surrounding the gun-control debate after the massacre in Parkland, this particular tip caught my interest.

A new, statewide “risk prevention” policy allows courts and law enforcement officers to seize weapons from certain individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others due to mental illness.

The statute was one of the many safety laws rolled into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, albeit one that was largely overshadowed by more controversial policies such as those allowing some school personnel to carry guns and raising the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21.

The statute creates a process for law enforcement officers or agencies to petition a court for a “risk protection order” to temporarily prevent people who are at high risk of harming themselves or others from accessing firearms.

Under this heading, St. Petersburg Police responded to two perceived threats, including those of a 36-year-old St. Petersburg resident who had told police:

— His parents were responsible for the 9/11 attacks;

— His neighbor was a Nazi trying to break into his house;

— He was under surveillance by Russian authorities;

— He had murdered people in St. Petersburg;

— He wanted officers to kill him.

In March, the police sought a court order requiring this St. Petersburg man to surrender all firearms and ammunition or else face charges of a third-degree felony. Judge Anthony Rondolino approved the request via a final risk protection order.

The SPPD recovered a 12-gauge shotgun and a semi-automatic handgun.

Normally, I don’t even read these kinds of stories, much less write about them. I try my best to block out the evils of the outside world while fooling myself into thinking that nothing bad will ever happen to my family or me.

But this time I happened to notice where this St. Petersburg man lived.

Google Maps says he’s just three minutes away by car.

That’s right … someone who believes he has a Nazi for a neighbor and is under surveillance by Russian authorities lives along the path I travel when driving my daughter to school in our golf cart (you’ll notice this man is just minutes away from her school, too).

I understand that many other people live in environments much, much worse than mine. But this privilege provides little comfort when someone so unstable lives so close to you.

Thank God the police have seized his guns.

Thank God the Florida Legislature passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.

Material from USA Today — Florida network was used in this post.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


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