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The Bar Bulletin
Jax Daily Record Monday, Apr. 2, 201806:00 AM EST

Gun laws: pro and con

Jacksonville-area attorneys debate the national discussion.

State gun reforms: A reasonable approach that protects Second Amendment rights

By Christopher J. Kinnaman

With the murders of 17 students and adults in Parkland, we must ask ourselves what, if anything, we can do to prevent such senseless tragedies in the future.

The phrase “common sense gun reform” is thrown around a lot, but what does that really mean?

Christopher J. Kinnaman

The avid gun rights advocate may see this phrase as a thinly veiled attempt to infringe impermissibly on our Second Amendment rights, but this does not have to be the case. 

Gov. Rick Scott signed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act on March 9, which includes the creation of  The Risk Protection Order Act.

It does much more than just attempt to protect the lives of our children and doesn’t necessarily restrict our gun rights.

My family is mostly conservative, and I would classify myself as an avid gun rights advocate, but there are areas in the law where we have gaps.

One area that most can agree on is the need for police to be able to temporarily seize firearms and ammunition in an individual’s control when that person might be a danger to themselves or others.

Every domestic violence injunction I have seen prohibits the possession of firearms while the injunction is in place.

However, the process necessarily requires a petitioner who is fearful of violent acts for a judge to be able to order the injunction. Before passage of The Risk Protection Order Act, no such provisions existed in a law enforcement capacity.

The act, stated in Florida Statute 790.401, establishes a process for law enforcement officers to temporarily seize firearms and ammunition from certain individuals.

It is intended to apply only to situations in which the person poses a significant danger to himself, herself or others by possessing a firearm or ammunition. The statute includes standards and safeguards to protect the rights of respondents and due process of law. 

To assuage the concerns of gun rights advocates, the law also requires, subject to a few very limited exceptions, the eventual return of the seized firearms to the individual.

This return can occur no later than 24 hours after the individual can show that they are no longer subject to involuntary examination and have been released or discharged for any inpatient or involuntary outpatient treatment, unless the risk protection order directs for a longer time period.

This is a reasonable approach and realistically should appease worries that the government will seize firearms for an indefinite period of time.

This law protects the Second Amendment Rights of law-abiding Americans and provides due process rights for anyone who feels a violation has occurred.

These are the types of gun reform ideas that have broad, often bipartisan, support but often fall through the cracks because of unreasonable proposals from both sides of the debate.

While it may not stop every senseless shooting, this law provides the tools law enforcement needs to keep us, and most importantly, our children, safe.

Christopher J. Kinnaman is a partner with Postillion Law Group focusing on business matters and estate planning.

State’s gun control roots go back to 1892 incident on Bay Street in Jacksonville

by Eric J. Friday

Benjamin Franklin said “[t]hose who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Gun owners have demonstrated that they have no intention of giving up the liberty that purchases their safety. Any attempt to deny that liberty is doomed to failure, as no one else is as equipped to defend their liberty and safety as gun owners.

Eric J. Friday

Limiting law-abiding citizens’ fundamental rights because of the actions of criminals accomplishes nothing other than to punish those least likely to be involved in criminal activity.

For example, Florida’s more than 1.8 million concealed carry licensees are six times less likely to commit a criminal offense than a law enforcement officer, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Department of Agriculture data.

Some people are calling for a ban on “assault rifles.” Most people making these demands are woefully ignorant regarding both guns and their own place in history in calling for such bans.

One of the first gun laws in Florida enacted to restrict ownership of a certain type of gun was an 1893 ban on the ownership of a Winchester repeating rifle, the most rapid-firing, nonautomatic weapon of the day.

On July 4, 1892, at the Anheuser-Busch docks on West Bay Street in Jacksonville, a white shipping clerk named Burrows reprimanded a black stevedore named Reed. Burrows was anxious to begin his Independence Day celebrations and was angry at Reed for being late with a delivery.

The men soon came to blows, and Reed killed Burrows and was arrested. A lynch mob began to form before Burrows was even pronounced dead.

Fortunately, when the mob arrived they found armed black citizens defending the jail and nearby street corners and protecting the rule of law.

Over a period of three days, a crowd of more than 1,000 armed black citizens prevented a lynching by an equal number of angry whites.

It took a militia unit, a Gatling gun, and a summer thunderstorm to finally disperse the crowd and restore order.

Later that year, a black activist and pamphleteer named Ida B. Wells would discuss this case and declare that “the Winchester rifle deserved a place of honor in every Black home.”

In response, during the next session, the 1893 Florida Legislature passed a law stating that a license would henceforth be required for the possession of a Winchester repeater. If county commissioners did not believe a person should have such a rifle, they found the person to be “of unfit moral character” – the post-14th Amendment code for being black – the person would be denied the license.

Years later, a justice of the state Supreme Court would acknowledge the racist history of that gun licensing law.

The descendant of that law remains on the books today. These racist roots and limitations on the rights of disfavored persons are forgotten or ignored by those calling for a ban today.

The Second Amendment is the palladium of liberty. It enables the first natural right, the right to defend life. It also acts as the ultimate check on abuse of the citizenry by government.

After every tragic incident there are calls for “new” gun controls. The controls are not new but are the ever-present goal of the enemies of liberty who seek to control the people and the independence that comes from self-reliance.

The common denominator of each of these proposals is that they only limit the rights of law-abiding citizens while doing nothing to prevent the next tragedy.

What other fundamental rights are you willing to give up for a little temporary safety?

Eric Friday is a partner with Kingry & Friday, focusing on Second Amendment rights and family law.

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