Given Florida's reputation as the National Rifle Association-dominated "Gunshine State," many political observers were surprised state lawmakers passed a relatively long list of gun-safety restrictions after the February 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. For example, legislators approved a "red-flag" law that lets cops temporarily confiscate guns from people who threaten to hurt themselves or others. A 2018 New Times investigation showed the provision successfully took guns from hundreds of potentially dangerous people, including alleged domestic abusers.
But yesterday Florida Rep. Walter "Mike" Hill, a Panhandle Republican, filed a bill that would repeal many of the gun-safety provisions passed as part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.
Perhaps most amazingly, Hill has proposed repealing the 2018 state law that allows people who fear for their lives or the lives of others to obtain "risk-protection orders" that permit law enforcement officials to temporarily strip allegedly dangerous people of their guns. That law allows domestic-violence victims or loved ones of potential mass shooters to petition judges for the temporary confiscation of firearms from those who might harm them. (Studies show men who commit mass shootings are far more likely to have committed acts of domestic violence or partner abuse in the past.)
Reached via phone last night, Hill declined to speak and asked New Times to send him questions via email. (He said it was "not a good time." We will publish his responses when he returns them.) Calling him "far right" is something of an understatement. Despite being black, he is pushing a bill that would make it illegal to remove or destroy monuments to the Confederate States of America. Speaking to New Times last year, he said slavery was
Hill has also advocated for demonstrably offensive actions such as calling for America to dispel the "demonic Muslim horde" from the country. And he has called Islam a "cult" that worships a "demon god."
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(Hilariously, Hill also once proposed moving Donald Trump's Hollywood Walk of Fame star to Pensacola to keep it safe from vandals.)
New Times reporter Jessica Lipscomb wrote last August that many gun-rights advocates and pro-gun legislators felt the post-Parkland gun-safety provisions went too far and possibly violated the due-process rights of gun owners. (An attorney for the pro-gun group "Florida Carry" told New Times that "every legislator that voted for it and every police department that uses it should be ashamed to call themselves an American.) While Hill's bill might seem outlandish, portions of it could pass: The 2018 act barely made it through the Legislature, and some lawmakers almost immediately began hinting they wanted a second crack at the gun-safety provisions.
Lipscomb reviewed all 108 "risk-protection-order" provisions filed between March and July last year. Of those petitioned against, 28 had been accused of domestic violence, 45 were allegedly dangerously mentally ill, and 34 were said to have been contemplating suicide. While some cases were overturned, the reporter found little or no evidence the law was being used vindictively or foolishly. Lipscomb chronicled cases in which guns were taken from a racist homeowner who had attacked black construction workers, from a man who said he wanted to shoot his wife at church, and from a teen who said it would be "fun and addicting" to commit a school massacre.
Had that bill not been in place, those people could have kept their guns.