Sen. Annette Taddeo and Rep. Dan Daley, two South Florida Democrats, are pushing measures allowing municipalities to pass more restrictive gun control measures.
State law currently preempts local governments from passing stricter gun control measures than the state.
“Except as expressly provided by the State Constitution or general law, the Legislature hereby declares that it is occupying the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition, including the purchase, sale, transfer, taxation, manufacture, ownership, possession, storage, and transportation thereof, to the exclusion of all existing and future county, city, town, or municipal ordinances or any administrative regulations or rules adopted by local or state government relating thereto,” the relevant section reads.
“We need to repeal this preemption law enacted in 1987 that circumvents the will of the people to have elected officials pass common sense gun laws in their communities,” Taddeo said in a Friday statement.
Daley joined the Legislature after serving on the Coral Springs City Commission. That community neighbors nearby Parkland, the site of a 2018 mass shooting which claimed the lives of 17 people. The city has sought to challenge the statewide ban on increased local gun restrictions.
“In the wake of the shooting at my alma mater, Stoneman Douglas High School, I joined with fellow local elected officials to bring the lawsuit to overturn the draconian and unconstitutional punitive provisions. This NRA-backed law was wrong when it was passed in 1987 and is wrong today,” Daley said.
“Since 2011, local elected officials, those who know their community best, have been prevented from doing what their residents demand. Gun violence is an epidemic that the entire nation is being subjected to and all levels of government should have a seat at the solution table,” said Representative Daley.
Opponents, however, worry that a patchwork of local rules could cause confusion for residents. Individuals crossing city or county lines would need to be constantly aware of each municipality’s guidelines, otherwise they may be subject to liability for activities which are legal in their home region.
Taddeo and Daley tried introducing a similar measure last Session. But with Republicans firmly in control of the Legislature, neither bill advanced through a single committee.
The ongoing suit would not eliminate the preemption entirely, as this legislation would. But the case could strike down a 2011 expansion of the preemption which added penalties for local officials who violate the ban.
Circuit Judge Charles Dodson has ruled that those penalties — including fines and removal from office — are unconstitutional. The state has appealed to the Supreme Court.
“I know the Attorney General has filed a notice of appeal and will try to use the court system to attempt to thwart the ruling and go against the people’s will, but I will not give up on this,” Taddeo added Friday.
“These are the battles that will show us who they really are. We need to do more than thoughts and prayers; we need action to keep our community safe.”