DeSantis warns red-flag laws ‘will be weaponized against people the government doesn’t like’

Florida Governor and 2024 presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis warns that red-flag gun laws “will be weaponized against people the government doesn’t like.”

The Republican candidate made the remark on Sunday, during a discussion about the Maine mass shooting on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Host Kristen Welker asked DeSantis if he agreed with a statement from newly-elected House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who said, “At the end of the day, the problem is the human heart, it’s not guns.”

“I think this was a very tragic thing,” DeSantis replied, “and my heart goes out to all the victims. It’s truly horrific.”

“I think, in this case, there was a medical intervention, a health intervention,” he continued.

“He clearly had problems,” DeSantis said of shooter Robert Card, who was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Friday.

“He was involuntarily committed,” DeSantis said. “He would have been a prohibited possessor [of firearms] based on that adjudication. So this is, I think, an example where, clearly, this is a guy, very well-trained, had a lot of skills, and then went off his rocker.”

“There was an intervention, but it wasn’t enough,” he said. “I’d like to know why there wasn’t more done. We’ve seen incidents across the country where there have been a lot of signs, where people have maybe been referred, but then they don’t go through with everything, and I think that’s going to be probably what we end up finding out here.”

“I do think we tend to pass the buck with some of these people and just kind of hope that they don’t do anything wrong when there’s a lot of signs,” DeSantis said, noting the recent “major push” to de-institutionalize the mentally ill. “I would be more aggressive with those fringe people who clearly are demonstrating signs that they are a major danger to society.”

According to new information, Welker told the governor, a “be on the lookout” alert was issued statewide for Card in September in response to threats he made at the military base at which he was serving.

A red-flag law, she argued, would have prevented the shooter from walking into a store days before the shooting and buying a gun.

“I don’t think you’d even need a red flag,” DeSantis replied. “If somebody has a mental involuntary commitment adjudication of that nature, that usually would go into the system and that would be on a traditional background check.”

“I believe in due process,” he said, “so I don’t believe in this idea that government can just take someone’s property and then go through due process later. What I do believe is, convicted felons and people that are mentally incompetent or mentally ill — I think that’s been the law in pretty much every state and federally for quite some time.”

“I believe in strong Constitutional rights,” he added, “but with that comes responsibility, and if you’re somebody that can’t conduct themselves in society because of mental illness, then that absolutely should be taken into account.”

A red-flag law “could have made a difference,” officials said, according to Welker.

“That final line of defense never kicked in because it didn’t exist,” she said.

“No,” DeSantis corrected her, “when you do background checks, if somebody has a criminal conviction, for example, that goes into the system.”

The background checks, he explained, are federal, and things like mental health involuntary commitments or previous crimes can be entered into the system.

“You don’t need additional things,” he insisted.

“And here’s the problem I have with some of the proposals that have been done, and, particularly, in some of the blue states,” he added. “That will be weaponized against people that the government doesn’t like.”


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