As much of the country including President Donald Trump reacts to the El Paso and Dayton massacres by considering something like Florida’s “red flag” laws, Republican state Rep. Mike Hill has filed a bill to repeal the provisions intended to take away guns from individuals whom a judge has determined to be dangerous.
Hill on Friday filed House Bill 6003 that would repeal the red flag provisions and also other gun law changes Florida made in the wake of the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They include the prohibition of mentally ill people to buy guns, the ban on bump-fire stock devices, the three-day waiting period for gun purchases, and the increase in minimum age to 21 for the purchase of rifles.
He filed a similar bill, House Bill 175, last year, though it went no where and was withdrawn.
Hill, a Republican from Pensacola, hopes to gut gun provisions included by the Republican-led Florida Legislature when it approved the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act [SB 7026].
That landmark bill and its provisions were decried by many Democrats as not going far enough to address gun violence in Florida, especially following the assault weapon powered massacres at Pulse in Orlando in 2016 and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018. Still, the measure was hailed as the furthest the Florida Legislature and any Republican Governor, Gov. Rick Scott in this case, had gone in a generation to restrict guns.
Hill, who was first elected in 2018 after that bill was approved, said he supported the rest of the bill but thought the gun provisions went too far, were unconstitutional, and unwise.
“Anything that infringed upon ownership of guns, that’s what I wanted to repeal,” Hill said.
Key among them were the red flag provisions, which allow law enforcement to go to court to ask a judge to temporarily seize firearms from someone deemed by the court as showing clear intentions of violence, and also to prevent people found to be mentally ill from purchasing firearms.
Now, after the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings, something like Florida’s red flag provisions are being considered coast to coast, and being pushed in Congress. Trump has expressed some support. Meanwhile, Florida Democratic Sen. Lori Berman and Rep. Richard Stark are again backing legislation, Senate Bill 114, to expand the red flag laws. Their proposal would allow family members of potentially dangerous individuals to petition a court to restrict that person’s access to weapons.
Hill said the timing of his bill’s filing is entirely coincidental to the mass shootings last weekend in El Paso and Dayton and the responses this week from various Republicans, including Trump, endorsing the red flag laws. He said he sent the bill to drafting weeks ago, before the latest atrocities, and it just emerged.
“In terms of President Trump wanting to look at, perhaps strengthening the red flag laws, which, if you call them what they are, they’re gun confiscation laws. I support President Trump 100 percent. I’ll have to say I hope he gets some further advice on this and not try to strengthen the red flag laws, because I believe they’re unconstitutional,” Hill said. “It goes against our Second Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and the 14th Amendment.
“The red flag laws infringe on our Constitution. They are a clear violation,” he said.
Hill also expressed another concern. He noted the high number of military veterans coming back from war with some form of post traumatic stress disorder. Representing a district [House District 1] with large numbers of active duty military and veterans, Hill said he is concerned, and has spoken with some veterans who have expressed, that they might be unwilling to seek mental health treatment because they are afraid someone could pursue red flag laws and confiscate their guns, or prevent them from being able to buy guns.
The other gun provisions in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act he seeks to repeal also violate the U.S. Constitution, Hill insisted, though he also has other beefs with each of them. He said the bump stock provision is too vague, and could get gun owners in trouble for gun modifications that really are not bump stocks. The three-day waiting period, he said, would not stop any mass shootings. The age requirement, he said, means young people can be old enough to go to war but not old enough to buy a rifle in Florida.