Last month The Florida Supreme Court upheld an element of the state’s firearm preemption law. The court found the court found ‘no merit in Petitioners’ argument,” and its decision is a big legal win for gun rights in Florida; also for those who want public officials held personally accountable for knowingly passing local ordinances that contradict state law.
The Importance Firearm Preemption Law—
First, if you’re not familiar with the term, essentially preemption law forces local jurisdictions to fall in line with state law regarding things like firearm law. Preemption law is incredibly important when you consider the consequences of violating certain gun laws. When local jurisdictions craft vastly different firearm laws, for example, it becomes nearly impossible for someone carrying a firearm to do so legally as they pass through different governing jurisdictions. So what might be legal in one town could earn you a felony arrest in a neighboring village.
Florida’s Penalty Provision—
Florida’s firearm preemption law is pretty standard except for a key provision, which was the focus of several lawsuits. More specifically, over 70 local officials, three counties and 30 municipality took part in lawsuits challenging the penalty provision of the law. Why so much ire against the penalty provision?
The provision held local officials individually accountable if they passed local firearm ordinances contradictory to state firearm law. The punishment, a $5,000 fine. However, the best part is that the law stated that official could not use public funds for their defense or for reimbursement of the legal defense. Public officials have no problem spending the people’s tax dollars, so the $5,000 penalty provision proved to be effective in halting rogue local officials from overstepping their authority.
Holding Leaders Accountable—
Many states have firearm preemption laws. The problem is that if there is no penalty provision, local officials can flagrantly ignore the law, pass contradictory local ordinances and then just spend the unending people’s tax dollars defending their bogus laws in court. The local officials have no skin in the game, and for some, “standing up to the gun lobby” is a badge of honor. Colorado is a perfect example of a state with firearm preemption laws that city leadership like that of Denver, effectively ignore by institution increasingly restrictive and punitive local gun laws.
Fried v. State of Florida—
If you’re interested in reading more about the court’s decision, the case is Fried v. State of Florida.
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