Marion Hammer, Nikki Fried At Odds Over Gun Lawsuit

Does preemption actually mean anything?

Preemption laws themselves exist to prevent local governments from passing their own gun control rules. However, when Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto decided to pass his own gun control measures, he and the city council violated state law. The problem? There were no penalties in place to use against local lawmakers who ignore the preemption law.

That spurred legislators in Florida to step up and make sure the same thing can’t happen again. This was the subject of an immediate lawsuit that now has one of the state’s most powerful gun rights lobbyists battling with the state’s highest-ranked Democrat.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer sparred Friday after Fried’s lawyers filed a court brief arguing that an NRA-backed gun law is unconstitutional.

Hammer, the gun-rights group’s longtime Florida lobbyist and former national president, sent a memo to NRA members accusing Fried of thinking “it’s OK to deliberately violate state law and not be punished.”

The memo came after The News Service of Florida reported Thursday that Fried had filed a brief backing cities and counties that challenged a 2011 state law that threatens tough penalties — including fines and potential removal from office — if local elected officials approve gun regulations. A Leon County circuit judge this year found the law unconstitutional, and the case is pending at the 1st District Court of Appeal.

“Joining anti-gun cities and counties, Florida’s agriculture commissioner is asking the 1st DCA to allow local government officials to have immunity from punishment when they intentionally break the law,” Hammer wrote. “Folks, you can’t make this stuff up … who would have imagined such self-important arrogance?”

That spurred Fried to issue a news release providing a statement about the case and firing back at the NRA. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which Fried has headed since getting elected last year, oversees concealed-weapons licenses, a closely watched issue by the NRA.

Now, obviously, I side with Hammer. I’ve made the exact same arguments ever since Peduto started with his nonsense in Pennsylvania. If preemption is going to mean anything, there need to be repercussions for violating it.

What Fried is arguing is that state law should only matter when it’s convenient.

Of course, an astute anti-gunner would try to argue that sanctuary counties are basically the same thing. Of course, they’d be wrong. Sanctuary counties don’t claim the law doesn’t apply. They’re saying they won’t enforce it. That’s a big difference, and while some might think it’s a quibble, there’s nothing in sanctuary counties that prevents state police from enforcing gun laws.

Ignoring preemption is different. When local governments start passing gun control laws in spite of those preemption measures, they’re saying preemption doesn’t apply there. They’re willfully arguing that their will supersedes state law, which it doesn’t.

For preemption to mean anything, it needs to be respected. While the courts may well overturn local gun control ordinances, that takes time and everyone knows that. Local governments can keep churning out gun control laws as soon as they’re stricken down…unless there are some ramifications for passing them in the first place.

My hope is that the Court of Appeals slaps people like Fried down with their anti-gun nonsense. We don’t have time for that kind of thing in this day and age. We need our rights protected, even if that means threats of removal from office for those who refuse to respect them.