I’m no expert, but it seems to me that the idea of a red flag law should be a red flag.

Nevertheless, one’s been employed in Florida since 2018, and the first person to have his firearms taken by the government under the confiscating cardinal banner’s been found guilty of refusing to hand them over.

33-year-old Jerron Smith is now looking at half a decade in prison following a Broward County jury’s Friday rejection of his argument that he didn’t fully understand the law.

Not long after the legislation was enacted in February 2018 — following the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High — Jerron found himself the subject of a risk protection order.

He was arrested in March on charges of firing six shots from his Glock at a vehicle driven by his best friend during an argument over a borrowed cell phone.

Subsequently, officials took custody of his .22-caliber rifle and AR-15, but not without difficulty.

The SunSentinel reports:

[D]eputies seized on the opportunity to obtain a “risk protection order” under the newly minted law. When they arrived at Smith’s Deerfield Beach home, the defendant did not fully understand how far his rights extended, or more significantly, how far they did not.

According to Jerron’s attorney, Jim Lewis, he “never had an opportunity to understand what was going on. He thought he had a right to have an attorney present before the order was executed.”

But that isn’t the way the red flag waves:

Risk protection orders are civil actions, but defying them is a criminal act. Under the law, police need to convince a judge that removing weapons from the defendant is warranted. Once the judge makes that determination, the defendant must either surrender the weapons or place them in the care of an independent person who can possess the weapons legally; that person would have to vow to keep the weapons from the defendant.

There’s no requirement of a warrant:

Smith told a Broward jury he was unaware of those requirements when deputies came to his door. He repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, evidently believing police could not search his home without a warrant or his consent.

Convicted of defying the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, he’s still awaiting trial for attempted murder.

Florida is one of 15 states with Red Flag laws, but South Florida is actually behind other Sunshine State counties in its employment of such.

More from the Sentinel:

Between March 2018 and July 2019, 37 of the state’s 67 counties have invoked the law 10 times or fewer. Many are sparsely populated, such as Baker County, west of Jacksonville, which has fewer than 30,000 residents and has never invoked the law.

Back in March, as relayed by local WPLG, the angry trigger-happy now-convicted-felon’s neighbor said he was an Army vet proud of his gun collection.

He explained:

“[Jerron] spent a lot of money for his weaponry. It’s crazy. You just got to live around here to know what’s going on.”

I’ll tell you something that’s crazy: Jerron’s idea of a “best friend.”

-ALEX

 

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