As we reported in a prior article the assault on South Florida’s gun culture continues through efforts to ban gun shows at the War Memorial Auditorium. It appears that Florida Gun Shows Inc., owned by Lebanese-American Khaled Akkawi, isn’t taking that lying down.
Florida Gun Shows is now suing the city of Fort Lauderdale in federal court for violating the company’s free speech rights stating that they should not be treating its events differently than other legitimate commercial operations that are held at the public venue.
Mr. Akkawi also happens to own the largest private FFL chain in Florida, Shoot Straight, Inc and helped organize two bus runs to two pro-gun rallies at the Florida capital earlier this year.
Ft. Lauderdale’s anti-Second Amendment stance is nothing new. Back in 2016, the city tried to ban the sale of ARs by modifying the lease agreement and stipulating that ARs, AKs, and standard-capacity magazines couldn’t be sold on the convention center grounds. The state’s preemption law prevented that maneuver.
The city’s attack on the show as a whole has been ongoing and finally came to fruition when Mayor Dean Trantalis, who as a city commissioner last year found no support for getting rid of the gun show outright, now has colleagues in agreement with him on the issue in Florida’s post-Parkland climate. In fact, Mayor Trantalis spent five years as a city commissioner trying to ban the shows ever since the Sandy Hook shooting.
According to the Sun Sentinel;
“Despite [the gun show’s] history of promoting successful and safe gun shows at the [auditorium] for many years, as a result of the tragic school shooting deaths of a number of Broward County students at the hands of a criminal, the political climate in Broward County in 2018 has become very hostile towards gun shows and gun rights in general,” the lawsuit said.
As a former South Florida resident, I can honestly agree. The political climate in Broward County is overtly hostile towards gun shows and gun rights. I very much remember the attitude from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office when I was trying to get a chief LEO’s signature for an ATF Form 1 for a short barreled rifle.
Mayor Trantalis claims they want to ban the shows because they suddenly present a threat to the city park across the street. Yet in all the thirty-plus years that the show has been going on, there has never been an issue of safety toward show-goers or Fort Lauderdale residents using the park. As Trantalis told the Sun Sentinel . . .
“They never had an incident in Parkland, either. Why tempt danger when we can avoid it?”
By that “logic,” Fort Lauderdale could be at risk from a potential backpack nuke. Yet Hizzoner isn’t banning tourists from other countries from visiting Las Olas Beach. Why is he willing to assume that risk?
The Florida Gun Shows lawsuit also states that city commissioners are in violation of the state’s preemption law that prohibits local governments from regulating the purchase, sale, transfer and ownership of firearms and ammunition which the suit said the city is doing by “adopting and enforcing an anti-gun show policy at its publicly owned facility.”
Under Florida law, Mr. Akkawi retains the right to add individual officials to the suit who could be subject to penalties such as a $5,000 fine, possible removal from office, and opening officials up to further potential lawsuits seeking additional monetary damages in excess of $100,000. Stay tuned.