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AR-15 rifles line a shelf in the gun library at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms National Tracing Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia December 15, 2015. The guns represent many of the models the ATF has come across in their investigations, and are collected through seizures from criminals or donations from manufacturers and members of the public. Picture taken December 15, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX21L2J

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More cities join challenge to gun-law penalties

An additional 10 municipalities have joined a challenge to the constitutionality of a state law that imposes strict penalties on local governments and officials who violate a restriction on regulating guns and ammunition.

The lawsuit was filed last month in Leon County circuit court by 10 South Florida communities and numerous local officials, and an amended complaint was filed Tuesday that added 10 municipalities and more officials.

The additions were Boca Raton, Surfside, Tallahassee, North Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, St. Petersburg, Maitland and Key Biscayne.

The case is rooted in a decades-old law that gives the state power to regulate firearms and ammunition and “preempts” the ability of local governments to approve such regulations.

In 2011, the Legislature approved stiff penalties for local governments and officials who violate the state preemption law, including potential removal from office and fines.

The municipalities allege in the lawsuit that the penalties are unconstitutional on a series of grounds. In a statement issued Tuesday after the amended complaint was filed, lead attorney Jamie Cole described the penalties as “onerous” and “unprecedented” against local governments and elected officials.

“Municipalities and elected officials from across the state, in urban, suburban and rural communities, have all joined the fight to protect the home rule authority of local governments, and to reflect the passion of their residents,” said Cole of the firm Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman.

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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