On Monday ten Florida mayors joined six other plaintiffs in filing a lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott and other state officials. No, they’re not raft of new limits on Second Amendment rights just enacted after the Parkland shooting. Instead, they’re fighting to invalidate the former Gunshine State’s 2011 preemption law that imposes strict penalties on any city the enacts municipal level gun control laws that are more restrictive than state law.
Under the preemption law, a mayor or city council member can be removed from office and fined $5,000 if they enact local gun laws that conflict with the state’s.
Filed in Circuit Court in Leon County, the home to Florida’s state government in Tallahassee, the suit argues the 2011 sanctions overstep restrictions on a governor’s limited ability to remove a local elected official from office. The suit also claims the state law violates state rules protecting a municipal government’s authority to enact laws without fear of legal penalties against local lawmakers. More broadly, the suit calls Florida’s restraints an unconstitutional restriction of local democracy — including the responsibility of a city’s elected officials to respond to constituents petitioning for local action after the Parkland massacre.
In addition to being removed from office, each mayor can also be fined $5000 for signing more restrictive gun control regulations into law. The intent of preemption laws is intended to make it easier and less legally risky for lawful gun owners to travel around the state without having to figure out the gun laws in each municipality they visit.
“This violates our First Amendment rights,” Weston City Commissioner Toby Feuer said of the state law.
How a law that’s intended to protect citizens from a local government overreach would violate the First Amendment is a mystery to me, but then I’m not an attorney.
The Weston v Scott suit cites the case of Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdés-Fauli. He gained unanimous support in a preliminary vote in city council to ban sales of “military-style rifles.” But the Coral Gables city council failed to pass the ban after they were warned by the city attorney warned of the possible financial consequences.
No word yet whether the city council is also considering bans cars or knives…two items which kill far more people in Coral Gables than modern sporting rifles. Mayor Valdés-Fauli remains defiant.
Valdés-Fauli still voted for it, saying he thought actually enacting a banned gun regulation would help his city’s legal case against the 2011 law. “I believe in civil disobedience when the laws are unjust,” he said.
Given the response of gun owners who live in areas where laws like registration requirements and magazine capacity limits have been enacted, that looks like one thing we can all agree on.