Joe Henderson: Florida’s red flag gun law, pushed by GOP’s Bill Galvano, saved lives
Image by Brett Hondow of Pixabay.

Since the red flag law was enacted after Parkland, it has been used an estimated 5,000 times.

People sometimes call Florida the “Gunshine State,” and we indeed live in a staunchly pro-Second Amendment place. The National Rifle Association (NRA) pays a lot of money so that Republican lawmakers will do its bidding.

However, some Florida GOP legislators bucked the NRA and incurred its wrath not all that long ago. They passed a so-called red flag law in the wake of the 2018 Parkland massacre and endured threats and insults from the all-guns-all-the-time crowd.

But as we try to make sense of the latest mass murder of children, this time in Texas, it’s worth remembering what Florida’s law accomplished.

“That law has been used 5,000 times in Florida since the bill’s passage. It has prevented gun violence and saved lives, but it is limited,” Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith said.

However, none of that would have happened if Republican Bill Galvano hadn’t put principle ahead of politics.

This was after Republicans agreed just weeks after the shootings to raise Florida’s minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21. They enhanced security at schools and some other safety measures.

The red flag law — or risk protection order — is a game-changer. It allows police, with court approval, to temporarily seize weapons from people deemed at risk of harming themselves or others.

Before that law, police couldn’t intervene before Parkland murderer Nikolas Cruz carried out his bloody mission. He left a long trail of warning signs for what he intended to do. Had the red flag law been in place, 17 students and staff would be alive today.

Galvano was a pariah to many Republicans for standing up to the NRA. Some considered him a traitor when his political committee accepted $500,000 from Democrat Mike Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety gun-control group.

Donald Trump Jr. told The Daily Wire that the last thing Florida needs is “a liberal, gun-grabbing Bloomberg minion.”

But the very junior son of the ex-President didn’t bother to tour the scene of the slaughter as Galvano did shortly after the killing spree.

“The shocking images, the horrifying feelings, the unbridled outpouring of grief and outrage — these are all still so fresh in our minds as we reach the sad one-year milestone since that senseless, heartbreaking day,” he wrote in a letter to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I visited the crime scene just 48 hours after the shooting occurred, and I will carry that experience with me for the rest of my life.”

It’s one thing to see news reports from afar and offer thoughts and prayers. It’s quite another to see bullet holes and splattered blood up close.

Sens. Travis Hudson, Ed Hooper, Tom Lee and Keith Perry joined with Galvano to get enough Republican support to push the law over the finish line.

We all know the government will never go door-to-door and confiscate every weapon it finds. It’s also more than a little disturbing that Gov. Ron DeSantis is a huge advocate for open carry with no permit.

He might want to rethink that one in light of current events.

But there are many disturbed people out there. They crave a chance at notoriety by shooting up a school or a grocery store. Those sick puppies should never get close to owning a weapon.

The red flag law works.

Rep. Dan Daley, a Democrat, said it best.

Of Galvano, he told the Sun-Sentinel, “I think he’ll be pleased with his place in history when he looks back.”

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • The "H" stands for "hater"

    May 26, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    “Those sick puppies should never. . . ”
    That kind of hate-filled language should never be used in a responsible journal. What next, Joe H., a column about “schizzos”?
    If you can’t keep your foul derision under control maybe you should find another line of work.

    • Sister Vita Pretiosa

      May 28, 2022 at 1:56 pm

      Hateful indeed. Referring to would-be mass murderers as “sick puppies” is a very hateful insult to all dogs, not one of whom has ever shot up innocent people in a grocery store or school.
      Maybe you should find another line of logic, bless your heart.

  • Rich7553

    May 27, 2022 at 12:15 am

    How did you get from “used 5000 times” to “it works”? How many of those 5000 resulted in an actual significant mental heatlth diagnosis? Seems you’ve got much more research to do.

    • Sister Vita Pretiosa, Reformation Academy for Disputatious Boys

      May 28, 2022 at 1:47 pm

      If the red flag law saved one life, it worked. Seems you have not done your research on the value of one life, bless your heart.

Comments are closed.


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