Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is calling on the Florida Supreme Court to take up a dispute about a 2011 state law that doles out penalties to local government if gun regulations are passed.
“This is a public health crisis. Our communities deserve local safety solutions. Instead, what are we getting out of Tallahassee? Huge fines, removal from office and government overreach from the capital of Tallahassee,” Fried said.
The effort to get a Supreme Court hearing comes after the 1st District Court of Appeal in April upheld the constitutionality of the law after local governments and officials filed three lawsuits challenging the 2011 law. The lawsuits were filed after the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that killed 17 people.
Coral Springs Democratic Rep. Dan Daley also attended the virtual press conference. Daley was a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“To the justices of the Florida Supreme Court: Do it for the 49 victims of the Pulse shooting. Do it for the 17 victims of the shooting at my alma mater, Stoneman Douglas, and do it for the hundreds of men, women and children who are gunned down in the streets across Florida every week,” Daley said.
Florida since 1987 has barred cities and counties from passing regulations that are stricter than state firearms laws, and the penalties in the 2011 law were designed to strengthen that preemption. The law, for example, could lead to local officials facing $5,000 fines and potential removal from office for passing gun regulations.
Attorneys for local governments have contended the threatened penalties infringe on types of immunity that help shield public officials from lawsuits over their decision-making and actions.
“If the Florida Legislature wants to willfully ignore over 70% of Floridians who demand action on gun violence, our local leaders should be permitted to take action,” Daley said.
The local governments and officials did not challenge the underlying 1987 preemption law but contended the penalties in the 2011 law were unconstitutional.
Fred Guttenburg’s 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was killed in the Parkland school shooting. He spoke about the effects of gun violence at the press conference.
“My daughter Jaime was killed that day, but my son Jesse listened to the bullets as they were killing his sister. Gun violence affects all of our families and our communities in so many different ways,” Guttenburg said.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this post.