People exercising their right to keep and bear arms shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they’re violating an obscure local ordinance when they cross a local boundary. That’s one reason every state has some form of firearms preemption law — some more protective than others.
While Florida’s preemption laws are clear, many local governments chose to ignore them. They’ve kept illegal ordinances on the books even when threatened with prosecution. The legislature has responded by creating penalties for individuals in local governments who violate the preemption law.
Like state preemption laws across the country, including North Carolina’s notorious H.B. 2, Florida’s firearms statute forbids city or county governments from passing certain local policies—in this case, laws regulating the sale or use of firearms. But Florida’s law goes much further: It opens up local government officials to lawsuits, penalties, fees, and even removal from office for even attempting to pass a bill contravening state law.
Recently, the Sunshine State sued the city of Tallahassee to remove restrictions that violate the state preemption law. Mayor Anrew Gillum (above), considered a rising star in the Democrat party who spoke at the Democrat national convention, has openly defied the preemption statute. He’s challenging it in court.
The first district court of appeals must consider whether the city went afoul of the law when it left a pair of provisions regulating gun use on the books. Eric Friday, general counsel for the gun rights organization Florida Carry says the law is clear.
“These officials took swore an oath and took a job to follow the laws of Florida and the’ve chosen not to do so. They have chosen, or they have stated here, that they want to continue to regulate fire arms whether the legislature tells them they can or cannot,” Friday says.
But city attorneys argue the state’s preemption law violates city commissioners’ rights under the state constitution. Lauren Lennon says that’s because it violates the commissioners’ legislative immunity by carrying penalties and fines, even allowing them to be personally sued based on how they vote.