... Or, How Red Flag Laws Work
August 18, 2019
St. Cloud, FL –-(Ammoland.com)-
Last Wednesday, Jonathan Carpenter of Osceola County, Florida was sitting at home when a mail carrier knocked on his front door.
The postal carrier had Carpenter signed for a certified letter from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Carpenter signed for it, but he was confused because he was not expecting anything from the state. He quickly opened it and was floored.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services was notifying him that they have suspended his concealed handgun permit.
“On or about August 12th, 2019 in Osceola County, Florida, an injunction was entered restraining you from acts of domestic violence or acts of repeat violations,”the notice read.
The letter shocked Carpenter, who has never had a run-in with the law.
“When I opened the letter stating my CCW was suspended, I was shocked and confused,” Carpenter told AmmoLand News.
Figuring it was a mistake, Carpenter called the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to clear things up since he has never committed domestic violence against anyone. The representative told him he had to get a form from the Clerk of the Courts saying that there weren't any actions against him.
Carpenter headed to Clerk of the Court's office to retrieve the required form. When he got there, the Clerk informed him that there was an injunction against a Jonathan Edward Carpenter.
“What do I have to do to prove that you have the wrong Jonathan Edward Carpenter?” he asked the Clerk.
The Clerk instructed Carpenter to go downstairs to talk to the Osceola County Sheriff's office to clear things up. Carpenter still figuring that it was just a mistake that the Sheriff’s office could quickly clear up went and spoke with him.
The Sheriff’s office supplied Carpenter with a copy of the injunction. In the statement, the plaintiff stated that she rented a room out to a “Jonathan Edward Carpenter” and his girlfriend. She alleged that this Carpenter was a drug dealer who broke her furniture and sold her belongings without her permission. He had a gun, and she feared for her life. She was not sure if the firearm was legal or not.
Carpenter had never met the woman in question and never lived at the address listed in the restraining order. Moreover, other than being white, he looked nothing like the man the terrorized the woman.
The man in question is 5'8. Carpenter is 5'11. The alleged drug dealer is 110lbs. Carpenter is over 200. The man has black hair. Carpenter is completely bald. Last but not least, the man in question is covered in tattoos, and Carpenter only has a few.
It was apparent that the police had the wrong man, but Carpenter was in for his biggest shock yet. The Sherriff’s office told Carpenter he had to surrender his guns. Carpenter never even had as much as a hearing, yet he was losing his rights.
“The last thing on my mind was me having to turn over my gun,” Carpenter told AmmoLand. “I was upset when the Sheriff told me that I need to surrender my gun before any due process.”
He would not be able to get them back until he goes to court so the women can verify to the judge that they have the wrong Jonathan Carpenter. He would have to petition the court for the return of his firearms. An added expense that Carpenter would have to cover himself!
A police officer I spoke to off the record thinks that the courts ran a check for a Jonathan Edward Carpenter with a concealed carry permit. Although he could not tell me for sure, he thinks that is what happened in this particular case. He did say that this is a common practice.
When I pressed the officer of the likelihood of a drug dealer obeying Florida gun laws and getting a concealed handgun permit, he agreed that it probably isn't likely. He then stated that police and courts do make mistakes all the time, but he insisted that it is better to make mistakes than not do anything. Many disagree with that point.
For many, this is an example of how the system is broken. Second Amendment advocates worry with the expansion of extreme risk protection orders these situations will become more prevalent. Currently, 17 states have these red flag laws on the books.
Florida passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act in 2018. This is Florida’s version of a red flag law. Although this isn’t technically a risk protection order, many think cases like this highlight how red flag laws can be misused to disarm innocent people.
For Carpenter, he has to wait until August 27th for his day in court to start the process of getting his firearms rights back. To him, he had the presumption of innocence taken away. He is currently seeking legal counsel.