Florida Court Upholds Law that Penalizes Local Gun Control Regulations

by akoloy

A Florida appeals courtroom on Friday upheld a state regulation from 2011 that might impose penalties on native authorities in the event that they enact or implement native gun management rules.

A 3-judge panel of the Florida First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee granted an enchantment from the state of Florida that sought to uphold the regulation. The enchantment by Attorney General Ashley Moody and Gov. Ron DeSantis was in response to a decrease courtroom ruling in 2019 that discovered the 2011 regulation unconstitutional.

“The trial court invalidated Florida’s statutory penalties against local governments, local officials, and agency heads for violating the Florida Legislature’s total preemption of firearm and ammunition regulation,” the ruling by Judge Susan Kelsey reads (pdf). “We find the challenged statutes valid and enforceable, and we reverse.”

Florida has had a statute since 1987, “Field of regulation of firearms and ammunition preempted,” that declares null and void any new gun management legal guidelines handed by local-level governments that might be stricter than state legal guidelines. It sought to make sure that lawful gun homeowners wouldn’t inadvertently break native guidelines whereas touring throughout the state.

In 2011, Florida enacted a measure offering penalties in opposition to native governmental entities or particular person officers who willfully violate the state preemption statute—successfully giving it extra tooth. The penalty provisions embrace fines of as much as $5,000 and removing of the native officers of concern from workplace by the governor.

The regulation additionally permits for the restoration of damages of as much as $100,000, in addition to courtroom and legal professional prices and charges, for the prevailing get together in the event that they efficiently sue native governments over native gun legal guidelines.

The 2011 regulation was challenged in three separate lawsuits by 30 municipalities, three counties, and greater than 70 native officers. They argued the penalties within the 2011 regulation had been unconstitutional. The lawsuits got here within the wake of the Parkland mass capturing in February 2018 that killed 17 folks at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Then-Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson, in a ruling in July 2019 that consolidated the three authorized actions, discovered the 2011 regulation unconstitutional on a sequence of grounds.

“Because local governments must have what amount to small legislatures, and because courts cannot interfere in legislative processes, neither this court, nor any other court in Florida, can enforce the civil penalty provisions [of the law] against local legislators,” Dodson wrote in his order.

He additionally centered on how the Constitution could outline the idea of “legislative immunity” and “government function immunity” that might shield native officers from penalties for making choices of their official capability.

His ruling didn’t have an effect on the 1987 statute, which was not challenged.

Kelsey, writing for the appellate panel, rejected the decrease courtroom ruling.

“We hold that the statutory penalty provisions disputed on appeal are valid and enforceable. Government function immunity does not shield entities that act contrary to or more restrictively than state law in the completely preempted field of firearm and ammunition regulation. Likewise, legislative immunity does not shield individuals who knowingly and willfully act contrary to or beyond the limits of state law,” she wrote.

She additionally wrote that the Florida Legislature is “authorized to enact general laws preempting all regulation in an area of the law.”

“As this case illustrates, the Legislature has exercised its preemption authority with respect to firearms and ammunition,” she added.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) celebrated the ruling, writing on Twitter, “MAJOR NRA COURT WIN: Florida appellate court upholds preemption statute and says that public officials can be fined for overriding state law and implementing local gun control,” including, “The NRA was instrumental in passing this statute and filed an amicus brief in the case.”

Amicus briefs had been additionally filed to the appeals courtroom in assist of native entities within the case. One temporary (pdf) was filed by the Florida League of Cities and the Florida Association of Counties, and one other (pdf) was filed by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Brady gun-control group, and the League of Women Voters of Florida and Equality Florida Institute, Inc.

From The Epoch Times

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