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State asks judge to reject ‘bump stock’ lawsuit

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office is asking a Leon County circuit judge to dismiss a lawsuit that alleges a recently approved ban on firearm “bump stocks” is an unconstitutional taking of property.

Lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott approved a ban on the devices after the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Broward County’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people. Bump stocks make semi-automatic weapons mimic fully automatic firearms and drew widespread attention after a mass shooting last year in Las Vegas.

The lawsuit, filed in March in Leon County circuit court, seeks compensation for owners of bump stocks, arguing that the Florida Constitution bars the state from taking private property “except for a public person and with full compensation therefore paid to each owner.”

But in a 12-page document filed April 30, state Chief Deputy Solicitor General Edward Wenger argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed.

In part, Wenger said the state can outlaw property that it determines to be dangerous.

“The state determined that bump-fire stocks pose a threat to public safety, and it exercised its police power to prohibit their possession or sale,” Wenger wrote. “Because that decision was not a ‘taking’ and the Legislature exercised its discretion to not provide a ‘bounty’ to owners, plaintiffs are not entitled to compensation.”

The ban, which was part of a broader bill dealing with school-safety and gun issues, takes effect Oct. 1. The case has been assigned to Leon County Circuit Judge James Shelfer.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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