Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R.) said on Thursday that former-president Donald Trump’s call to take guns from people before they can defend themselves in court is wrong.
The day after he announced his run for the Republican presidential nomination, DeSantis attacked front-runner Donald Trump’s position on so-called red flag laws. He claimed the former president’s 2018 proposal to take guns from potentially dangerous people before courts can vet claims against them violates several parts of the constitution.
“That’s unconstitutional,” DeSantis told conservative radio host Dana Loesch. “It violates the Second Amendment, but I think, even more important, it violates the Fifth Amendment because they can’t take anything from you without due process. It’s not just firearms. And, so, the idea that you’re seizing people’s property and then promising due process later; that is wrong. That’s not something I would support.”
The comments come as DeSantis begins to directly confront Trump after months of avoiding criticizing him in the lead-up to his official announcement. They also represent part of his strategy to get to the right of Trump on several policy issues. He has spent the last several months signing pro-gun reforms into law in Florida, including repealing permitting requirements for concealed carry and implementing new banking rules to ensure major financial institutions don’t drop gun businesses.
DeSantis’s attack stems from comments Trump made in the wake of the Parkland shooting when his administration was considering backing a number of different gun-control proposals. During a televised meeting with lawmakers, Trump mocked fellow Republicans for being “so afraid of the NRA” and said he would back the work of prominent gun-control advocate Senator Dianne Feinstein (Calif., D.). He praised the idea of implementing a “red flag” law that would allow government officials to seize guns from those accused of being a threat to themselves or others.
During the meeting, Pence said such measures can “give families and give local law enforcement additional tools if an individual is reported to be a potential danger to themselves or others.”
“Allow due process so no one’s rights are trampled,” Pence said at the time, according to the Washington Free Beacon. “The ability to go to court, obtain an order, and then collect not only the firearms but any weapons in the possession of that individual…”
“Or, Mike, take the firearms first and then go to court,” Trump interrupted. “Because, a lot of times, by the time you go to court, it takes so long to go to court, to get the due process procedures—I like taking the guns early. Like in this crazy man’s case, that just took place in Florida, he had a lot of firearms, they saw everything—to go to court would have taken a long time, so you could do exactly what you’re saying, but take the guns first, go through due process second.”
Trump’s support for the proposal evaporated after Democrats began the first of two impeachment proceedings against him.
The Florida Governor has been less supportive of “red flag” laws. DeSantis told Fox13 in 2019 that most mass shooters exhibit red flags, and “I think we need to identify that and do something about it.” However, he said he would have vetoed the one Florida adopted if he had been governor at the time.
DeSantis supporters have been even harsher when attacking Trump on his gun record. Never Back Down, a Super PAC supporting DeSantis, released an ad replaying a collection of clips where Trump touted his unilateral bump stock ban–which he recently doubled down on during a CNN town hall–and criticized the NRA.
“Trump promised NRA members he’d have their back,” the ad begins. “When Second Amendment rights came under attack, Trump abandoned us and stood with liberal Democrats.”
The ad went so far as to accuse Trump, who has consistently sought and won the NRA’s approval as well as appointed multiple pro-gun Supreme Court justices, of “gun grabbing.”
“Trump cut and ran like a coward,” the ad said. “Trump the gun grabber doesn’t deserve a second chance.”
The Trump Campaign did not respond to a request for comment.