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Trigger Lock Law Ruled "Null and Void"

Friday, March 22, 2002

In an opinion handed down on Wednesday, the Florida Court of Appeal for the 3rd District found the trigger-lock ordinance of the City of South Miami "null and void" under Florida`s preemption statute. The lawsuit against the ordinance was brought by the NRA, Unified Sportsmen of Florida, and individual plaintiffs. The ordinance—which was proposed by Miami-Dade`s anti-gun Mayor Alex Penelas and supported by an opinion issued by Florida`s anti-gun Attorney General Bob Butterworth—purported to require that every firearm, without exception, be stored with a trigger lock. No exception existed for firearms stored in a safe, antiques, or firearms kept accessible for self defense.

The trial court had originally dismissed the suit as "unripe" because no person had been prosecuted yet, but the Court of Appeal reversed that decision, not only deciding that the case was ripe for decision, but also ruling on the merits that the ordinance is invalid. The case was sent back to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with the opinion, meaning a formal judgment in favor of the plaintiffs (NRA and law-abiding gun owners) and against the City must be entered by the trial judge.

NRA Past President Marion P. Hammer, commenting on the ruling, stated, "City and county officials are not above the law. There was really no other way [the court] could rule because the statutes are abundantly clear." Similar trigger-lock ordinances have been passed by other jurisdictions besides the City of South Miami, and the decision of the Court of Appeal in this case makes clear that these ordinances are also without legal authority.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.