|DATE:||August 1, 2019|
|TO:||USF & NRA Members and Friends|
|FROM:||Marion P. Hammer|
|USF Executive Director|
|NRA Past President|
On Monday, July 29th we reported that a Leon County Circuit Court judge had struck down the penalty provisions that punish local government officials for knowingly and willfully violating state law and had essentially given them a "get-out-of-jail-free card."
On Tuesday afternoon July 30th Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a notice of appeal the ruling to the 1st District Court of Appeals. AG Moody wasted no time in making it clear that she will defend the right of the state to govern and punish (when necessary) its creations -- local governments for misconduct and/or malfeasance.
Specifically, in a lawsuit brought by several anti-gun South Florida cities and counties, the court struck down the $5,000 fine and the risk of removal from office for individual public officials, local governments, and government agencies who knowingly and willfully violate the state preemption law by adopting local gun control ordinances.
Despite pleas from a group of anti-gun local officials urging The Attorney General and Governor Ron DeSantis not to appeal, the state quickly moved forward with a notice of appeal. The state cannot sit by and allow rogue local officials thumb their noses at the law.
Interestingly, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried the Democrats highest ranking official couldn't wait to attack the Attorney General's decision to protect the rights of the state to punish those who violate the law.
Be aware: without penalty provisions, the only recourse against willful violations of law which infringe upon the rights of law-abiding citizens is for citizens or organizations to file expensive lawsuits against public officials to enforce the law. Then, law-breaking officials use tax dollars -- YOUR MONEY -- to defend themselves for violating the law. Local governments use the "bottomless pit" of tax dollars while citizens must spend their own money to protecting their rights.
The following article provides more information and is reprinted with permission
STATE APPEALS RULING ON LOCAL GUN REGULATIONS
July 31, 2019
TALLAHASSEE --- Florida will appeal a circuit judge’s ruling that struck down a state law threatening tough penalties for local officials and governments that approve gun regulations.
Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a notice late Tuesday that the state will appeal the ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson, who found last week that the 2011 law threatening the penalties was unconstitutional.
Asked for a comment Wednesday, Moody’s office released a copy of the notice of appeal, which puts a hold on Dodson’s ruling. Meanwhile, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat, blasted the decision to appeal.
Fried called the threatened punishments for passing gun regulations “some of the most extreme anywhere in the nation.”
“Our state shouldn’t threaten local elected mayors and council members with fines, lawsuits, and removal from office,” Fried said in a prepared statement. “We should restore local democracy and allow communities to consider common-sense local measures that reflect their values.”
Fried, whose Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services handles concealed-weapons licensing in the state, added that the appeal “is not only a waste of taxpayer money and time, but the wrong direction for our state.”
The lawsuit was filed in April 2018, after the mass shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people and injured 17 others. The school shooting led to widespread calls for gun-control measures, including calls for cities and counties to act.
Florida since 1987 has had what is known as a “preemption” law that prevents local governments from passing gun regulations that are stricter than state firearms laws. In 2011, lawmakers passed another measure that included a series of steps designed to prevent local governments and officials from violating the 1987 law, including imposing penalties of up to $5,000 against officials and potential removal from office.
The law also allowed individuals and groups that successfully challenged local governments over gun regulations to receive damages up to $100,000 and attorney fees.
During arguments last month before Dodson, Daniel Bell, an attorney for the state, said the law prevented a “potential patchwork regulatory scheme” of gun restrictions across Florida.
In his ruling issued late Friday, Dodson found that the 2011 law was unconstitutional, but he did not strike down the underlying 1987 law.
Moody’s move to appeal Dodson’s ruling to the Tallahassee-based 1st District Court of Appeal was not a surprise. But a group of local officials in recent days had urged Moody and Gov. Ron DeSantis not to appeal.
The law was challenged by more than 30 local governments, mostly South Florida cities, but also including Orlando, Gainesville and Tallahassee, and Miami-Dade, Broward and Leon counties.
Jamie Cole, the lead attorney for the local governments, said Wednesday he expects Dodson’s ruling to be upheld on appeal. “Judge Dodson’s decision was well-reasoned, well-written and supported by decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, Florida Supreme Court and Florida’s district courts of appeal,” Cole said in a statement.