“Red Flag” Laws: Theory Vs. Practice.

Back in October, we wrote about a school crossing guard in Martha’s Vineyard who had his weapons wrongfully seized by the police after they had gotten an order from a judge. The crossing guard was not advised of the hearing so he could attend, make a statement or offer any rebuttal to that which he was being accused.

When it was discovered that the weapons were wrongfully seized, no one even apologized to the man. In fact, the police chief was applauded for his quick action in taking the veteran’s weapons.

There for the grace of God goes everyone who has a weapon.

God’s grace did not extend to South Florida resident Jon Carpenter.

Carpenter was sent a letter from the State of Florida demanding he surrender his firearm’s license and surrender his firearms.

One problem: the “Jon Carpenter” the state filed against was not the Jon Carpenter who had his weapons confiscated and his license suspended.

Jon is a veteran, sports fisherman, and law-abiding gun owner from St. Cloud, who just happens to have the same name as a drifter who threatened an elderly couple.

“He’s 110 pounds. I’m 200. He has brown eyes. I have hazel. He has black hair. I have no hair,” Jon said, comparing himself to the other Jon Carpenter, who became the target of a risk protection order to remove any weapons he may possess.

But the veteran, fisherman, 200-pound Jon Carpenter was sent a certified letter from the state, suspending his firearms license.

“I was just dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to do. I called the state and they basically said, ‘There’s an injunction against you,’” Carpenter explained.

He also received a notice that he had been reported to DCF for elder abuse and a state order to surrender any firearms.

Rememeber, this particular Jon Carpenter had done nothing wrong. He was a law abiding citizen, yet his life and the “process” took another turn:

“The state basically said, If it’s not you, go to the courthouse. They’ll give you a letter and they’ll get you reinstated,” said Carpenter.

But that’s not how it played out.

“Then, he finally comes out, and he’s like you basically have to go to court on the 27th, in two weeks. So I said, ‘I’m guilty until I prove myself innocent? That’s why I’m here, trying to show its not me.’ And he’s like, ‘Since you‘re here, you’ve been served. Here’s your restraining order,’” Carpenter recalled.

He finally connected with someone in the sheriff’s office, who helped him get the injunction dismissed and called the state to get his firearms license reinstated.

“They said they process it in the order it was received and it takes 6-8 weeks. I was like, ‘So you can suspend it in one day, instantly, but for somebody else’s mistake, I’ve got to wait 6-8 weeks?’”

Carpenter’s point is a good one. The state screwed up and yet it is he who has to pay the price in time and money for the “process” to play out.

What business could survive if the business took the attitude of “we made the mistake, but you have to pay for it?”

To us, the problems with the well intentioned “red flag” orders is first a lack of due process. You may not even know that someone is going to a judge to get your weapons taken away. You have no ability to refute any accusations or charges that are made in secret. Secondly, as shown here, a wrongfully issued a “red flag” takes far too long to rectify.

It is time to revisit this law and correct its obvious flaws.

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