Florida’s firearms preemption law is now weaker, thanks to a judge in Tallahassee who struck down a law recently enacted in the state that strengthens the existing firearms pre-emption law. The law, signed by then-Governor Rick Scott in 2011, put teeth in the state’s preemption law by authorizing fines or even removal from office for those local lawmakers who sought to contradict the state’s existing gun laws. The judge decided to play dentist and make the state’s preemption law toothless once more.
Judge Charles Dodson also declared unconstitutional a provision of the 2011 law that allows Florida’s governor to remove local officials for going too far on the gun-control front.
Dodson did endorse the heart of the law, which bars local ordinances that go beyond firearm regulations established by the Florida Legislature. The Leon County Circuit Court judge’s ruling simply strikes the unprecedented threat of civil fines and expulsion for passing local laws that Florida has already declared “preempted” by state authority.
So, a firearms preemption law is fine and good, according to the judge, but imposing any sort of sanction on lawmakers who violate the law is “impermissible judicial meddling in a purely political matter”, according to the judge. That argument really doesn’t hold water. By that standard, asking the courts to weigh in on any abuse of power or violation of law by politicians is “meddling’. And we’re not talking about “purely political matters”. We’re talking about elected officials overstepping their legal bounds, and possibly infringing on the rights of residents by doing so. The court isn’t meddling if it sides with citizens against their anti-gun officials, it’s upholding state law.
Gun control activists are emboldened by Judge Dodson’s decision.
“It gives cities the ability to pass legislation that tests the boundaries of preemption, without fear of being thrown out of office or penalized,” said Jamie Cole, the Weiss Serota lawyer from Miami representing Weston and 19 other cities in the suit against Florida.
Not only does the ruling give cities the ability to test the boundaries of preemption, it allows cities to go far beyond the borders of the law without fear of consequence. Thankfully, while there’s been no official word from Governor Ron DeSantis or his administration, it looks like the governor will appeal this judge’s decision and possibly take the case to the state Supreme Court. Unfortunately, there’s no telling how many local laws may be slapped on the books between now and then. Thanks to one judge, Florida just became less 2nd Amendment-friendly.