Gun preemption bill cleared for Senate floor
Image via First Coast News.

gun permits
Similar legislation is slated to pass the House this week.

Legislation to stop cities and counties from creating unwritten gun policies is on its way to the Senate floor.

By a party-line vote, the Senate Rules Committee approved Estero Republican Sen. Ray Rodrigues‘ bill (SB 1884) to clarify that the state’s preemption over local firearm and ammunition laws applies to unwritten rules.

State law expressly prohibits a local government from creating an “ordinance, regulation, measure, directive, rule, enactment, order or policy” relating to guns that is more restrictive than state law. The broad list was intended to show it includes unwritten policies, but some courts have sided with cities and counties on unwritten rules.

In particular, Republicans believe local governments have gotten away with ending their unwritten policies when facing lawsuits. The bill would also require local governments to pay for the attorney fees in those cases.

“We’ve had some locations with unwritten policies that have led to lawsuits, and then during the suit, the government entity will drop enforcing the policy that they had, and ask the court to dismiss the case as moot,” Rodrigues said. “And when they do that, the plaintiff is obviously able to get their weapons, but they are stuck with paying the attorney fees.”

Senate Democratic Leader Gary Farmer told the committee he doesn’t agree with the current preemptions under law.

“I think — it’s certainly been said to me by local authorities — that they feel like this language is designed to intimidate them,” Farmer said.

He added that he doesn’t think intimidation is Rodrigues’ intention. However, House sponsor Rep. Cord Byrd, a Neptune Beach Republican, has said he hopes the bill will have a cooling effect on local governments

Additionally, Farmer disagreed that the preemption law should be expanded. Rodrigues argued the bill doesn’t expand the scope of preemptions because unwritten policies were intended to be included.

And on the question of whether local governments and plaintiffs could reach a compromise, Rodrigues said plaintiffs could bring their concerns before taking the lawsuit to court.

Byrd’s version (HB 1409) passed its final committee Thursday on its way to the House floor. The House is expected to consider it Thursday.

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.


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