Florida Democrat asks Comer, Jordan for field hearing in Parkland on red flag laws

Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) asked Monday that a congressional field hearing focused on red flag laws be held in Parkland, Fla., where such provisions were enacted in 2018 after the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The request — made to House Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — came days after a gunman fatally shot eight people at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas.

“Guns have become the #1 killer of children. Parents worry as they send their kids to school, to the mall, or the movies. It’s a fear all parents live with. Public places once considered safe are now targets for gun violence,” Moskowitz, a member of the Oversight Committee, wrote in a letter to Comer and Jordan.

“I request that the House Oversight and Accountability Committee and House Judiciary Committee hold a field hearing in Parkland, Florida, to learn about the success of ‘red flag laws,’” he added.

In March 2018, the Florida legislature passed and then-Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed a gun control bill into law that, among other provisions, instituted so-called “red flag laws,” which authorized law enforcement officers to request a “risk protection order.” The order would “prevent persons who are at high risk of harming themselves or others from accessing firearms or ammunition.”

The law also raised the minimum age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21, imposed a three-day waiting period for most long gun purchases, allowed certain trained school employees to have concealed handguns on them while on school campuses, and established new programs focused on mental health for schools.

The GOP-led Florida legislature approved the measure less than two months after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which 17 students and staff members were killed. Moskowitz — who is an alum of the school — was serving in the Florida state legislature when the gun control bill passed.

The Republican legislators and governor backed the measure despite strong opposition from the National Rifle Association.

In June 2022, CNN — citing figures from the Office of the State Courts Administrator — reported that Florida judges had used the red flag laws more than 8,000 times since being enacted to keep guns away from individuals believed by authorities to be a risk to themselves and others.

On Monday, Moskowitz said the red flag laws enacted have been used more than 9,000 times in Florida and have “helped save countless lives.”

“I saw in person the aftermath of my high school where a mass shooting occurred. I saw what happens to a community when someone who is mentally unfit has access to a gun and can easily buy one, and I also saw that Republicans could enact ‘red flag laws’ and go on to win re-election,” Moskowitz wrote to Comer and Jordan.

“We no longer need moments of silence; we need moments of action to protect our children, our communities, and our nation from gun violence,” he continued. “I refuse to think that nothing can get done. This field hearing can serve as a model to start somewhere, to start a conversation, to get something done.”

The Hill reached out to Comer and Jordan for comment. Last month, the Judiciary Committee held a field hearing in New York City focused on crime in Manhattan.

Congress approved and President Biden signed a gun safety bill last year which allocated $750 million to help states administer red flag laws. Both chambers approved the measure on a bipartisan basis.

Democrats, however, are now pushing for more action on guns after eight people were fatally shot at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas. In a statement following the massacre, Biden again called on Congress to pass a legislation banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, enacting universal background checks, requiring safe storage and ending immunity for gun manufacturers.

“I will sign it immediately,” he wrote. “We need nothing less to keep our streets safe.”

Moskowitz drew headlines in March when, during an Oversight Committee hearing, he said “dead kids can’t read” during a back-and-forth with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) over guns.

“You guys are worried about banning books — dead kids can’t read,” he said.

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