Army veteran who refused to give up firearms citing Fifth Amendment found guilty of defying Florida's new 'red flag' law

Jerron Smith, 33, of Broward County was found to be in violation of the law for not handing over his weapons to authorities after allegedly firing at friend's vehicle in March last year

                            Army veteran who refused to give up firearms citing Fifth Amendment  found guilty of defying Florida's new 'red flag' law

A US Army veteran became the first in Florida to be charged with defying the state’s newly adopted ‘red flag’ law after he refused to turn in his firearms, including an AR-15.

Jerron Smith, 33, who is suspected of shooting at his friend’s car, was found guilty by a jury in Broward County in southeastern Florida last Friday, December 6, in less than an hour.

Judge Ernest Kollra ordered a pre-sentencing investigation for Smith who faces up to five years in prison.

Florida’s new ‘red flag’ law came into effect in the wake of the shooting tragedy in a high school in Parkland in February 2018 in which 17 people lost their lives.

It was just after a month after the horrific incident that Smith’s weapons were confiscated by the deputies after a shooting took place outside his residence in Deerfield Beach.

Smith was accused of repeatedly firing at his best friend’s car during an argument over a cellphone on March 28 night. The police came to his house to seize off all the weapons and other items under a ‘Risk Protection Order’. They had found several magazines stocked in his bedroom.

Tori Stetzer and Taylor Miller (L-R) become emotional as they attend a candle light vigil at Florida Atlantic University for the 17 people killed during a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 16, 2018 in Boca Raton, Florida. Police arrested 19 year old former student Nikolas Cruz who has confessed to the shooting. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

According to a criminal complaint filed against Smith, it was said that he had shot at least half a dozen times at the vehicle of Jackson Levon while he was inside it.

Under Florida’s ‘red flag’ law, authorities with the backing of the judge can seek to remove weapons from people who are perceived as threats to themselves and others. Apart from Florida, 14 other states have such laws. 

Smith told the jury that he was unaware of the legal requirements when the deputies came to his house. He repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, believing that the police could not search his home without showing a warrant or his consent.

According to a report in the local Sun-Sentinel, Smith's lawyer could not present a convincing argument that his client did not fully understand the new law. The date for Smith’s sentencing is yet to be decided.

The Sun-Sentinel also said in a report in September that guns have been taken from 2,0000 residents of the state in a year-and-half since the new law was passed.

But figures showed that South Florida, which includes places like Broward County where mass shootings are not rare, has not been as agile in implementing the new law like most other big counties.

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