How to Subvert Florida Gun Rights Without Really Trying

 Florida career center. Et voila! A gun-free zone! (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

A member of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia writes:

I live in South Florida, a state that can claim over a million CCW (Concealed Carry Weapons) permit holders. I work at City Hall in a city which shall remain nameless. Let’s just say it’s between Miami and Ft Lauderdale. Our City Manager is one of those people who thinks guns in the hands of civilians is a bad thing; only the military and police could ever handle the stress of carrying a weapon as deadly as a gun and “I am not putting our citizens or employees at risk by allowing guns in City Hall.” So . . .

Florida recently changed some of its state laws. One of the changes was the one that said State Laws supersede local laws regarding firearms. This means that you can carry concealed in places like city hall.

Except there is a list of exclusions and one of the exclusions is you can not carry in “any career center.” The city manager’s solution? We now have a ‘career center’ in the second floor lobby.

For  a wee bit of context, here is the excerpt of the relevant section of the CCW Statutes:

Firearms regulations are uniform throughout Florida, and a carry license is valid everywhere other than in a few specially-defined areas. These specially-defined prohibited areas include . . . any career center.

A career center is sometimes called “Item 11″ to those that use the specific language of the CCW laws in order to subvert the intent of the CCW laws. Our city manager is one of those people and she actually calls that sad looking desk in the second floor lobby the “Item 11 desk.”

I’ve attached a photo of our “Item 11 desk” so you can see the magnificence that is a ‘career center.’ And you can plainly see the importance of such a place and why it would worthy of being on the list of places that are too dangerous in which to bring a firearm.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

66 Responses to How to Subvert Florida Gun Rights Without Really Trying

  1. avatarMatt in FL says:

    For the record, the statute by which the State preempted all firearms laws to itself was not passed “recently,” but way back in 1987.

    The only recent change to the preemption statute was to put a $5000 civil fine in place for “willfully and knowingly” violating the preemption. This was to give the statute some teeth, as a cattle prod to the ass of some obstinate municipalities around the state. It’s worth noting that the fine is not payable by the municipality itself, but “against the elected or appointed local government official or officials or administrative agency head under whose jurisdiction the violation occurred.”

  2. I would Office Space the shit out of that computer and desk.

    • avatarRad Man says:

      PC Load Letter – WTF does that mean?

      • avatarDave's not here man... says:

        Mmmmmhmmmmm….. *sip* I’m going to need you to go ahead and come in on Saturday…

      • avatarKevinMA says:

        It stands for Paper Cassette load letter sized paper (US standard 8.5″X11″). In other words your printer is out of letter sized paper, at least in teh tray the printer is trying to print from. Yes, I’m a geek…

    • avatarJ in NC says:

      Ha! Well played, sir. Thanks for the hearty laugh as well. Needed it. I can hear the background music right now, as Michael and Samir go to work in the field on that fax machine!

  3. avatarMike Crognale says:

    If, by magic, you know, those gray portable walls were to appear around that desk…….just enough space to get in and pull the chair back…….

  4. avatarBob Wall says:

    Don’t forget to grab the stapler…

  5. avatarDirk Diggler says:

    actually, I am sure “career center” is defined in a statute or in a funding appropriation from the state . . . don’t get mad – get even. If you cannot file suit b/c of your job, I am sure there is a pro-gun group who should challenge the mayor to prove how this qualifies as a career center (ie, where is a counselor, waiting area, etc) and then move for injunctive relief

  6. avatarMike Crognale says:

    Or, that desk could disappear some night….in all seriousness, who’s the boss, the CM , Mayor or the City Council. Complaints to be filed for deliberate false attempt to subvert the law.

  7. avatarJustLeaveLawfulGunOwnersAlone says:

    collect some donations, go to a real carreer center, hire as many people as you can to flood Item 11 Desk. Pay them $10 each to bring the entire building to a halt for an hour.
    I think career centers have to provide a certain level of service, look that up and provide all your “temp employees” instructions what they should ask the city hall employees for.
    post on facebook/twitter/craigslist that there is a career day happening, $10 per hour minimum wages.

    • avatarDirk Diggler says:

      better: spread the word that Obama Stimulus Funds are now available and anyone looking for work should show up at Desk 11 for their $300 cash, no questions asked share. And then bring popcorn and beer to watch the show

  8. avatarskeev says:

    As a South Florida resident as well, I was under the understanding that I could not carry a firearm into any government building, whuch would include city hall.

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      There is nothing in the statutes that specifically precludes city hall. If your city hall shares a building with a courthouse, things get sticky. There is a line that says Any meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality, or special district;, but that’s the actual meeting. There are some states that say you can’t carry into a building where one of those meetings is going on while the meeting is going on, but Florida doesn’t even make that distinction. Building is fine, meeting is not.

  9. avatarVenator Magnus says:

    Sounds like a real stand up broad. Tell her to lay off the smug in her morning coffee.

  10. avatarMatt in FL says:

    I’m starting to wonder if Dirk Diggler isn’t onto something with his comment above.

    Exactly what services are offered at this “career center?” I’ve just done a bunch of looking, and although I can’t find a statutory definition of a career center, they all seem to be fairly comprehensive in the services they offer, e.g. job training, job-seeker assistance, and employment counseling. Often they are a division of, or at least aligned with, an educational institution of some sort. I’m pretty certain that plopping a computer down and pointing the home page to the City of Orlando job listings does not make that computer and desk a “career center.”

    As a non-lawyer, I think there may actually be a pretty good case here for this being BS. Furthermore, if documented evidence could be obtained that the purposeful reasoning for putting the desk there and calling it a career center was to enable the restriction of firearm carry, that may even open the person in charge up to the civil liability I spoke of in my first comment. Wouldn’t that be a hoot!

    I’d like it if the individual who submitted this story could come along and tell us exactly what that computer does, and how it goes about being a “career center.”

    • avatarJay In Florida says:

      I think but wouldn’t bet my boots on it. That’s Cooper City they are referring to.
      Id take me a walk right on in there and just smile and ask where can I find a new career???
      Im in the Boca area and don’t see many no firearms allowed signs.
      The only really prominent one Ive noticed are in FedEx stores.
      So I stopped using them.
      Also Sports Authority.
      But since they don’t sell ammo anymore. No need for them.

      • avatarBo Cappella says:

        I’m also in the Boca Raton area, and the only signs I’ve seen (since City Hall took theirs down) are at FedEx. I ignored them then and continue to do so. What part of “shall not be infringed” don’t these / pendejos / understand?

        • avatarJoe Anderson says:

          That quote does not apply in this case as it is not the government preventing you from carrying your firearm, it is a private establishment. A private business can get away with creating such gun-free zones because, as a private business, they have the right to demand that you leave the property. If you refuse to do so, you would be trespassing. The sign could possibly be interpreted as meaning that people carrying guns are not allowed on the property, in which case you may be trespassing even if they don’t explicitly request that you leave.

    • avatarChip says:

      “…I’d like it if the individual who submitted this story could come along and tell us exactly what that computer does, and how it goes about being a “career center.””

      The computer is set in ‘kiosk mode’ so it only has limited internet access. It has its internet home page set to the Job Listing page for the City. You can read the current job postings, the formal/complete job descriptions, and complete your employment application. I don’t think you can actually go to any other website, I’ll have to try it next time I go by the desk… I mean next time I visit the career center.

      There are actually two more machines just like this one crammed into the ‘lobby’ of the HR department. You can’t get far enough away from them to actually get a picture.

      The computer in the picture…. it is literally just sitting in the second floor lobby pushed up against the wall under the stairs to the third floor. If you go to the left past the silk tree you can go into the snack bar (only open until 3), if you go to the right you go into a room with the soda and snack machines. If you need ‘help’ you have to go past the silk tree, around the corner, around the next corner, and go into the HR office. There is, of course, no sign telling you that.

      • avatarRich7553 says:

        Florida Carry needs to address this flagrant violation of preemption. We don’t need to know who you are, as we have statutory standing to pursue this as plaintiff, we just need to know the city. We assure you complete anonymity and no personal information will be released to the city or anyone else regarding your identity. Please contact me immediately at rich@floridacarry.org.

  11. avatarDirk Diggler says:

    Thanks Matt. I try. As a lawyer, my company pays me very well to think up sneaky shit.

  12. Contact floridacarry.org. They work with attorneys who might be willing to challenge what the city has done there.

    Note that the preemption law provides for some stiff penalties against the bureaucrats responsible:

    “(c) If the court determines that a violation was knowing and willful, the court shall assess a civil fine of up to $5,000 against the elected or appointed local government official or officials or administrative agency head under whose jurisdiction the violation occurred.”

    http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0790/Sections/0790.33.html

    Note the statute also provides for attorney’s fees:

    “1. Reasonable attorney’s fees and costs in accordance with the laws of this state, including a contingency fee multiplier, as authorized by law; and”

    IMHO, what the city has done here does not pass the smell test, and is unreasonable. Not necessarily putting the “career center” in the hallway, but by not creating a passageway or detour of some kind which would allow concealed carriers access to the rest of the 2nd floor from which they would otherwise not be precluded from entering while armed. I mean, why not just put a “career center” outside in front of every entry to the building? Patently unreasonable, and IMHO rising to the level of knowingly running afoul of the law.

    If you don’t want to personally be the whistle blower, at least contact floridacarry.org, because conceivably any concealed carry holder in Florida could have standing to challenge what the city has done, and not many people may know about this yet.

    Good luck!

  13. avatarHank says:

    Your city manager thinks like a vindictive junior high kid. And that’s an insult to vindictive junior high students.

  14. There is another issue here as well. Even if the entire building somehow then becomes a “career center,” I don’t know whether entering a prohibited area is a “strict-liability” crime or if it requires mens rea, i.e. a knowing violation. For example, let’s say some charter school satellite classroom is located in an unmarked strip mall suite, and you innocently walk in their front door mistaking it for the hair salon entryway next door. I am not sure whether, so long as the entry to a school was accidental and unknowing, whether a crime was committed. So that said, I’m not sure the city’s not-so-obvious and arguably entrapping “career center” would hold up against anyone other than someone who actually knew it was there. Right, I mean you can’t be charged for running a stop sign if the stop sign is the size of a postage stamp.

    Give Jon Gutmacher a call on that issue, he’s the MAN on Florida criminal/carry law.

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      No, you’re right. “Knowingly and willfully” is a Misdemeanor-2. There is no mention for “accidentally.” In this case, unless you worked in the building and knew about the game they were playing, I don’t see how it could be k&w. They don’t even have a sign hanging above the desk.

    • Small amendment, the concealed carry statute itself seems to imply that the violation must be knowing and willful:

      12.(d) Any person who knowingly and willfully violates any provision of this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

      http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0790/Sections/0790.06.html

      Note this is the same statute that provides 12(a)(11) that carves out “career centers”. But again, don’t take this as legal advice, check with Gutmacher!

      Also, sucks for the OP because he knows the career center is there. But really seems tough to nail someone else in the general public when the career center is not open and obvious. So actually, the OP has done all CCW permit holders in Florida a favor by not naming the city!

    • avatarJustLeaveLawfulGunOwnersAlone says:

      Jon would certainly be the perfect person to post a comment on here. I had suggested to TTAG to interview in before. Jon appreciated my plug, not sure if TTAG ever contacted him.
      Maybe this would be a good topic to start on.

      I’ll send him a link to this post, maybe he is still at his office down the road.

    • avatarMark N. says:

      I would think that the purpose of the “career center” was to keep employees from carrying, not the general public who doesn’t have any idea why there is a computer terminal in the lobby. I don’t see any sign saying “Career Center” that would alert the commoners to the GFZ

  15. avatarRalph says:

    it might be easy to sue the city for staging a phony career center to thwart the right to carry under state law. If there’s no career center in the city budget, and there’s no appropriation, then it’s a sham.

    If there’s a line item in the budget or there’s an appropriation, then the city should be sued for not properly staffing, manning and funding it. That’ll cost the city more than $5 grand.

    In either case, a plaintiff would need standing.

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      Ralph, to get standing, would you have to actually get in trouble (arrested), or could you have standing if you had business in that building and they were requiring you to give up your right to carry to transact that business?

    • That’s an issue too Ralph, as arguably, someone would have to be arrested first. OTOH, IMHO any Florida CCW holder who would like to go that building or 2nd floor with a gun but is in doubt about their rights to do so probably has standing to bring an action. Given that the OP states that it is the belief and intent of at least some city officials that the second floor, if not the entire building is now excluded, there definitely appears to be a real and live conflict between just about every CCW holder and the city.

      Also the preemption statute itself authorizes that “declaratory” relief can be sought, which usually implies a preemptive measure by someone in doubt of their rights, not necessarily someone arrested or otherwise damaged:

      (f) A person or an organization whose membership is adversely affected by any ordinance, regulation, measure, directive, rule, enactment, order, or policy promulgated or caused to be enforced in violation of this section may file suit against any county, agency, municipality, district, or other entity in any court of this state having jurisdiction over any defendant to the suit for declaratory and injunctive relief and for actual damages, as limited herein, caused by the violation.

      • avatarDirk Diggler says:

        yes – this section conveys standing to florida carry who would sue on behalf of their members. whomever got this added to your state law did you a huge favor . . . .

  16. avatarOut_Fang_Thief says:

    What is it with these anti-gun people. Aren’t there already enough victim traps as it is?
    We’re required by law to send our children to these victim traps and gun-free kill zones
    called government schools. We go to work in buildings with the same victim traps of
    long hallways, choke points, and compartmentalized kill zones. The only reason these
    mass shootings have been limited, is because of the untrained idiots committing them.
    If those two jerks who I won’t name from Columbine had any tactical training, they could
    have killed hundreds before the police had rolled a single unit. Small miracles, I guess.

    This “career center” facade is so brazen, it’s beyond shameless. Is there such a thing…
    …a place beyond shameless? Maliciousness? Is soulless, too strong of a word?…..?
    What sort of malevolent soul goes out of their way to set up people as helpless victims?
    Isn’t this in the vicinity of being sociopathic? Can you Baker Act a City Manager?

  17. avatarMatt in Idaho says:

    Good to see a politician focused on job creation!

  18. avatarRich7553 says:

    Attention Robert Farago:

    Please send me an e-mail to rich@floridacarry.org and let me know what city this is in. I don’t need to know anything about the source as Florida Carry has statutory standing without an individual plaintiff.

    Rich Nascak
    Executive Director
    Florida Carry

  19. avatarRich7553 says:

    This is NOT a career center. Career centers do not include Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation job centers, which are commonly referred to as career centers. However a career center under Florida statute is what would be referred in other states as a technical training extension school, or what we called in the old days, a trade school.

    1001.44 Career centers.—
    (1) DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD MAY ESTABLISH OR ACQUIRE CAREER CENTERS.—Any district school board, after first obtaining the approval of the Department of Education, may, as a part of the district school system, organize, establish and operate a career center, or acquire and operate a career center previously established.
    (2) DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARDS OF CONTIGUOUS DISTRICTS MAY ESTABLISH OR ACQUIRE CAREER CENTERS.—The district school boards of any two or more contiguous districts may, upon first obtaining the approval of the department, enter into an agreement to organize, establish and operate, or acquire and operate, a career center under this section.
    (3) CAREER CENTER PART OF DISTRICT SCHOOL SYSTEM DIRECTED BY A DIRECTOR.—
    (a) A career center established or acquired under provisions of law and minimum standards prescribed by the commissioner shall comprise a part of the district school system and shall mean an educational institution offering terminal courses of a technical nature, and courses for out-of-school youth and adults; shall be subject to all applicable provisions of this code; shall be under the control of the district school board of the school district in which it is located; and shall be directed by a director responsible through the district school superintendent to the district school board of the school district in which the center is located.
    (b) Each career center shall maintain an academic transcript for each student enrolled in the center. Such transcript shall delineate each course completed by the student. Courses shall be delineated by the course prefix and title assigned pursuant to s. 1007.24. The center shall make a copy of a student’s transcript available to any student who requests it.

    • avatarDirk Diggler says:

      Sweet!! I KNEW there had to be a statutory or other definition of “career center”. Go after this city with a vengence and demand the resignation of the idiot who thought this sh!t up as part of the settlement

  20. avatarTroyBilt says:

    Someone needs to pay some crazy stinky crack head to use that career center for a week. I bet it goes away fast.

  21. avatarRick says:

    As a City Administrator in a small city I was able to get the Board to authorize by ordinance for any City Staff who has a CCW to be able to carry at any time in or on any city property. I am now working on getting the carry ban in City Hall lifted for everyone. I would like to also post a sign welcoming legal concealed carry so anyone coming to City Hall maintains the ability to protect themselves. My Chief of Police is behind this 100% so hopefully before the end of the year all City Property will become available for concealed carry. Our insurance company sees nothing wrong with this and our liability insurance rates have not gone up with the new change.
    Hopefully you will be able to force that City Manager to see the light, and if not him, perhaps the Council and Mayor, especially if there is a rather large monetary penalty attached, both personally and against the City.

  22. avatarJaredFromTampa says:

    I didn’t know about this provision. My 62 year old mother works for Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance (an actual career center) and comes into contact with less than upstanding citizens every day. She has had her life threatened many times by people who were denied benefits. They do not have armed security. She carries a S&W 442 every day. My mom’s life is worth more than any pointless law. If there ever was a workplace where people should be armed, it is TBWA. Sheesh.

  23. avatarneiowa says:

    OP is not much of a career gov’t employee if he/she individually or as a group can not subvert the “will” of a rogue city manager.

  24. We’ve identified the city and the Florida Carry legal team is all over it. This won’t last long.

  25. avatarJAS says:

    I ran into my first “no weapons allowed” place last Friday, and it was a sad situation. I had to take my wife in for some minor surgery at one of the local hospitals’ outpatient surgery clinics. By request, we were there at 6:00 am. It was still very dark, not in the best part of the city and the atrium was not lit so I was in full situational awareness alert mode. Because of this I paid no attention to the signs on the door and walked right in.

    After we sat down I looked back at the door and started reading the lettering (backwards) and there it was, plain as day: “No weapons of any kind allowed inside” with one of those circle with a slash signs with a handgun and a knife. Story short, It was an “oh crap” moment and I had to leave my wife, by herself, while I drove all the way home and back because I wasn’t going to leave a firearm in a vehicle in that part of town. When I got back she was already in surgery. I felt terrible about having to leave her there by herself….

    • Gunbuster signs do not have any weight of law in Florida except at the entrance of a seaport. You were in violation of the hospital’s policy, but most likely not any Florida law.

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      I appreciate your honor about the situation, but you didn’t have to do that. The worst that could happen is the hospital could ask you to leave, and trespass you if you refused. But for that to happen, they would have to notice the gun in the first place.

      If I was in your position when you discovered the sign, and I have been, my reaction would simply have been to shake my head and go back to my newspaper.

      • avatarPatience says:

        Traditionally, the office of insurance commissioner has been an appointed position. Those selected to QuotesChimp important post have usually been people who have made their careers in the insurance industry and who intend to return to it after public service. Their attitudes often reflect insurance industry attitudes and prejudices. By making the post elective rather than appointive, the point of view of the consumers, if they are organized and alert, will have to be taken into account. This will reduce the power of the industry to control those who are in the position to regulate them and will make life much easier for the consumer.

  26. avatarArdent says:

    Reading this and seeing the rapid response from Florida Carry has made me decide to get more involved with BFA, Ohio’s version of FC. Thanks for that!

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