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Reconsider Red Flag legislation

By Staff | Aug 26, 2020

To the editor:

Shortly after a boy shot and killed an historic number of children at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas school, police warning legislation was introduced in Florida’s senate. So-called Red Flag legislation would have required mental health and medical technicians to disclose a credible threat of impending mass murder by a mentally impaired patient to law enforcement agencies. (SB7028 was withdrawn from consideration and died in the Judiciary committee.)

Because of the financial stranglehold of the National Rifle Association, we who watch TV during the election season are getting bombarded by accusations that politician x resisted gun ownership to “law abiding citizens” citing SB728, which never got out of committee. Do we really want to give the NRA the purchasing power to handpick our legislators with half truths?

The truth is more banal. The Red Flag bill would have given medical staff a mandate to warn local police of a threat. A patient on a 72-hour hold in a mental hospital, is someone deemed by mental health professionals, subject to an immediate review by a judge, to be incapacitated. The person must present as a threat to themselves or others; so incapable of self preservation that medical intervention is required.

If a patient is discharged after 72 hours of treatment, is it a bad idea to give a heads up to the local first responders? Should we bar from public office anyone who ever voted to consider such a plan?

Ellen Starbird

Cape Coral