Today’s note comes from Michael and William on the question of your views of the Violent Threat Restraining Order in Florida.
Michael: This is a rare area where I don't agree with you. No one should have their liberty taken without due process. Period.
William: It’s regulation that’s open to abuse!
Bottom Line: I’ve found that more people who generally agree with my perspective have disagreed with my support of Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safety Act. The area of biggest disagreement has been the violent threat restraining order. As we’re reflecting on what’s changed over the past year in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, let’s take a deeper dive into what really is happening with the violent threat restraining order.
First, let's take a look at what the law states. " Someone is subjected to the violent threat restraining order if there’s an official sworn statement by law enforcement or a person known by the individual." Furthermore, "the courts are the arbiters as to the restoration of the right to firearms after a 60-day stay."
Now, on one hand, you could argue that due process is being violated here, but if that’s the case my question is where’s the backlash against the “Baker Act”. All the violent threat restraining order is, is an extension of the existing Baker Act. The Baker Act has been law since 1971 in Florida and has been widely viewed as successful with minimal concerns of abuse. If I were to ask you if someone who was “Baker Acted” should immediately have access to guns how would you respond? That’s what we’re talking about here. Allow me to share the definition of due process. It's a noun stating that a fundamental principle of fairness in all legal matters, both civil and criminal, especially in the courts. All legal procedures set by statute and court practice, including notice of rights, must be followed for each individual so that no prejudicial or unequal treatment will result.
That’s why the Baker Act still stands and why Florida’s Violent Threat Restraining Order as an extension of it is legal. Our Constitution must always be upheld, that's without question. What we’re talking about in this case is essentially what yelling fire in a theater is to free speech. Where our rights are a threat to others there can be vetted restrictions. I agree that we have to be diligent not to allow a slippery slope to enter the equation but as of now with over 1,000 cases of the Violent Threat Restraining Order being used in Florida, I’ve yet to see abuse.
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