In the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting that left dozens of students and teachers killed or wounded, gun control activists immediately mobilized to enact legislative change at the federal, state and local level, as they typically do after ever major gun-related tragedy.
Unfortunately for them, they will be hard-pressed to enact change in Florida, as it is generally a pro-gun state with a law on the books that specifically prohibits local ordinances from cities and counties that go above and beyond what the state has already implemented, according to BizPac Review.
You read that right — it is against Florida law for any mayor, city council or other local appointed or elected agency to regulate firearms on their own, and the law is actually backed up with punishment which includes a hefty fine and potential removal from office.
According to the Miami Herald, the state law which implemented uniform firearms regulation over the entirety of the state was pass in the late 1980s. It was updated in 2011 to include the punishment as teeth, and it has gun control advocates like South Miami Mayor Phillip Stoddard hopping mad that he can’t infringe upon the Second Amendment-protected rights of citizens in his jurisdiction on his own accord.
“I think it’s outrageous,” proclaimed the five-term Democrat mayor. “Why should the cities be prohibited from protecting their citizens?”
But it was politicians like South Miami Mayor Stoddard who kept skirting around the initial uniform regulation law with local ordinances that prompted the state legislature to add the teeth as punishment, as was explained by the volunteer director of the pro-gun group Florida Carry, Sean Caranna.
“A number of cities and local counties decided they were going to break the law,” Caranna stated. “They made the conscious decision to say: ‘We don’t care what the law is. We’re going to break it.’ We put teeth into the law.”
The law which preempted local gun control measures is Florida Statute 790.33, which declared that the state legislature “is occupying the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition,” and that all existing local ordinances, regulations or rules on the local level were henceforth “null and void.”
The law proceeded to state that any “person, county, agency, municipality, district or other entity” which violated the law by “enacting or causing to be enforced” local laws above and beyond that of the state or federal level would be subject to penalty.
That penalty includes a civil fine of up to $5,000 for the elected or appointed official(s) responsible for the violation, and the law specifically prohibited their use of public (taxpayer) funds to defend against prosecution.
On top of that, violation of the law would provide cause for the “termination of employment or contract or removal from office by the Governor.”
Furthermore, the law stated that any individual or group who had their rights adversely affected by such local ordinances or rules had standing to sue the offending party in state court for the violation, and could be awarded legal fees as well as damages up to $100,000 for their trouble.
“We can’t do a damn thing at the city or county level, or we will be punished,” lamented Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman, a former Democrat state lawmaker, according to the Miami Herald. “I’ve been there with the deaf ears in Tallahassee.”
Of course, some localities still have strict gun control measures on the books, but those ordinances are no longer enforced, and it is unclear if any local officials have ever been punished for being in violation of the state preemption law.
But in the end, it all boils down to the fact that Florida residents’ right to protect themselves with a firearm is in turn protected by the state, no matter where in the state they happen to live.
“If in their pursuit of happiness, someone attempts to infringe upon that, they should be afforded the right to protect themselves,” said Marianna Republican Brad Drake, a co-sponsor of the bill. “That decision has to be made somewhere.”
This is great news for law-abiding gun owners in the state of Florida, and not-so-good news for the gun grabbers who wish to infringe upon the rights of gun owners, as the only way they’ll be imposing strict gun control measures is if the get the whole of the state’s legislature on board with their proposal, not just an activist mayor or city council.
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