Nikki Fried rebukes NRA and state officials backing gun preemption law
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

nikki fried
The NRA accusing her of “self-important arrogance” in a memo to supporters Friday.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried responded Friday to a National Rifle Association memo accusing her of “self-important arrogance” following her opposition this week to gun preemption law punishments.

In a brief filed Tuesday, the Commissioner opposed punishments, found unconstitutional in July, for local mayors and commissioners who consider certain gun control measures. And Friday, the NRA sent its supporters a message from its past president, Marion Hammer, calling Fried “the most anti-gun Commissioner of Agriculture in over 40 years — maybe ever!”

“Folks, you can’t make this stuff up … who would have imagined such self-important arrogance?” Hammer wrote.

The memo prompted Fried’s own press release.

“I made a promise during my campaign that the NRA would have no influence over me or our department.” said Fried, Florida’s lone statewide elected Democrat. “I stand behind that promise.”

Since 1987, Florida has barred cities and counties from passing regulations that are stricter than state firearms laws, a concept known as “preemption” of local gun laws.

In 2011, then-Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation creating punishments for local officials who preempt state firearm laws with stricter controls. The law, found unconstitutional by Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson, created fines up to $5,000 and subjected officials to removal from office.

Lawyers for Gov. Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and the NRA asked the 1st District Court of Appeal to overturn Dodson’s ruling. Meanwhile, Fried’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, cities and counties lauded it.

“As I’ve said before, our state shouldn’t be threatening local elected mayors and councilmembers with fines and lawsuits just for doing their jobs,” Fried said. “I applauded Judge Dodson’s ruling earlier this year that these extreme punishments are unconstitutional, and I wholeheartedly join the voices of cities, counties, and leaders across our state asking the First District Court of Appeals to uphold that ruling.

Before Fried’s election, the department backed the law, and Fried was legally a defendant when she assumed office. But after not joining the state’s appeal, she is now an appellee with the local governments and officials.

In her brief submitted Tuesday, Fried said the punishments violated lawmakers’ protections by requiring officials to answer in court why the voted to pass certain laws.

“Courts would be required to inquire into why local legislators ‘voted in a particular way or to describe their process of gathering information’ for a local ordinance and ‘second guess’ the discretionary act of local governments,” Fried wrote in the brief.

But DeSantis and Moody’s attorneys wrote in their appeal last month that Dodson’s opinion was based on the unsupported theory. The judge had argued that immunity from the judiciary extended to local officials, invalidating the punishment.

“If allowed to stand, the decision will not only invite the development of a patchwork regulatory regime in the area of firearms but also render the Legislature impotent to deter power grabs by local officials in other areas,” the attorneys wrote.

The move made Fried a target of the NRA. Hammer said she and the local officials are disregarding their oaths of office to upload the law.

“The out-of-touch NRA simply can’t handle that they’ve lost control, they’ve lost in court, and they’ve lost revenue made at the expense of communities demanding common-sense gun safety,” Fried said.

Officials from more than 30 cities and counties rose to oppose the law after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018. In a Thursday memo to supporters, Hammer said those officials believe they have a right to violate state law.

“The issue is not important. The attitude and culture where city & county commissioners think they are above the law is the problem,” Hammer said.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


12 comments

  • The Swampfox

    December 27, 2019 at 7:53 pm

    Lets see if this law gets overturned, before it takes the same path as Roe vs. Wade. First it was simply for rape, or incest,then young girls having abortions without parents consent, all the way to infanticide! Here we have people being dragged into court simply because someone feels the are a danger to society, and the weapons they own will be removed from their possession. So…. the question is who makes that determination and for what reason? Nut jobs like Dylann Roof & Nichols Cruz, I can see that if individuals like that have weapons in their possession they need to be confiscated ASAP.Unfortunately, the warning signs were all over the place t Majory Stoneman Douglas HS. unfortunately, the schools & law enforcement failed to follow up! What was even worse was Scott Israel “The Coward of Broward” stood down exacerbating the slaughter of innocent kids. However, this is opening Pandora’s Box for the anti-gun lunatics that will use this to move the needle for the next phase, and that is confiscation of “ALL” weapons from “ALL” law abiding citizens. Stopgap measures need to be put in place should this law be promulgated with little or no protection to the many gun owners in Florida.

  • Larry Gillis, Cape Coral

    December 28, 2019 at 6:55 am

    If some “lone gunman” or some other nut starts shooting at me or at my loved ones or at my friends, I wanna return fire immediately, to shut him down.

    I do NOT wanna have to wait until the cops show up in five or ten minutes.

    When the cops do finally show up, I will make sure that they know that I am one of the good guys. I am willing to take the chance that they might screw that up, too (and shoot me), because virtually all of the shooting will have taken place before they show up.

    Vote Libertarian.

  • Loki Luck III

    December 28, 2019 at 9:36 am

    Too bad Nikki, because of Article 1 Section 2 of Florida’s Constitution supersedes your deceptive rhetoric.

  • Rich

    December 28, 2019 at 11:17 am

    You are not to rule by your personal feelings…
    You are to follow THE CONSTITUTION AND RULE BY THAT!!!!!

  • Tom S.

    December 28, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    The minute you see a politician use the term “common-sense” in relation to a law, you know that it is exactly the opposite.
    Can you imagine having a patchwork of laws for every little town and fiefdom in the State of Florida for driving? Or any other thing where just by crossing a town line or a county line you could go from being perfectly legal to being a felon? Well that’s what Nikki Fried and the Liberals and South Florida want with gun laws.

  • Capt.Bob

    December 28, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Would commissioner Fried be okay if Okeechobee County passed a law that said no permit was required for concealed carry? No waiting period At gun shows or at local gun shops? And open carry for all any where, anytime?

    • Diane

      January 2, 2020 at 10:58 pm

      Dumb and Dumber. Did you guys not read the article? The judge found state preemption law UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

  • Jan

    December 28, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    When will she take her picture off every gas pump in the State of Florida for her own political advertising.

  • The Swampfox

    December 29, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Florida has its own AOC with Nikki Fried!! Not only is there a physical resemblance but the airhead Narcissistic politics is the same!!!

  • Glock 32

    December 30, 2019 at 11:22 am

    We need to get her out. Besides, she is basically a clerk carrying out the legal mandate of the state and should not be involved in legal matters. SHE JUST PROCESSES THE PAPERWORK.

  • Diane

    January 2, 2020 at 11:06 pm

    Rather than attacking your “natural enemy,” a Democrat, you people should read the article and apply some of that “common sense.”

    Here is how that pre-emption law worked in my county. The state law prohibited local governments from passing gun laws. There is no law on the book to prevent firing guns as recreation in neighborhoods. A drunk out shooting off his gun one day, just havin’ some fun, accidentally killed his neighbor, leaving a couple of young kids with no father. A completely preventable tragedy if the state had not prohibited local governments from adopting a “common-sense” gun law against shooting firearms in residential areas.

    • The Swampfox

      January 3, 2020 at 8:10 am

      The USA apparently is not your country. Responsible gun owners in the US don’t get drunk and decide to shoot up a neighborhood, that is left to criminals that get their weapons illegally! You want to go after someone I suggest you go after the criminals, which now here the USA we have an issue with illegals acquiring weapons. SO the left loonies go after the guns because it supports their agenda instead of going after the illegals who btw were deported multiple times! They were the ones pulling the trigger. As a rule guns don’t go off by themselves. So your theory is very flawed.

Comments are closed.


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