The people of Broward County, Florida have made some questionable choices through the years. Not only have they not told David Hogg to sit down and shut up, but they also elected Scott Israel as sheriff. Were that the extent of their sins, that would be enough, but I’m afraid it’s not.
They also managed to elect county officials who thought preemption didn’t apply to them.
Of course, these aren’t the first officials to try this crap. They’re just the latest to get their efforts smacked down in court.
Since 1987, Florida law has prohibited city and county governments from adopting their own gun laws or placing restrictions on firearms. The law gives the state carte blanche to occupy “the whole field” of firearm and ammunition regulation. The legislature gave it some teeth in 2011 by tacking on $5,000 fees and threatening removal from office if legislators violated the law.
As a result, pro-gun advocacy organizations have repeatedly sued Florida cities and counties over gun-control ordinances. A Broward circuit judge last week ruled in favor of a gun-rights organization that sued Broward County and the county’s administrator over ordinances that “infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Florida Constitution.”
Judge Carlos A. Rodriguez ruled that three county ordinances regulate firearms in violation of Florida statute and permanently banned Broward County from enforcing ordinances that relate to guns and ammunition. Florida Carry, a pro-gun advocacy organization, filed the lawsuit in 2014.
“The core of the issue is that they do not have the authority to regulate firearms and ammunition, and they were doing so,” says Sean Caranna, the organization’s executive director.
The judge awarded the organization just $1 in damages and reimbursement of legal fees.
But, more importantly, the ruling hammers home that Broward County can’t decide to ignore state law regarding preemption. Frankly, the award of damages is kind of a non-factor since that’s not what this was ever really about.
Preemption is hated by anti-gunners, but it’s a necessary component of state law that prevents an unnavigable patchwork of gun control laws that could turn someone into a criminal for just being a few feet on the wrong side of an invisible line. Broward County–to say nothing on the other municipalities all over the country still trying this–thought that they knew better and, frankly, didn’t give a good damn about the rights of law-abiding citizens.
What the ruling did was remind Broward County that they’re not special. The law applies to them just the same as it applies elsewhere. They’ve now been reminded and they get to pay Florida Carry’s legal fees, which means they’re making it possible for Florida Carry to fight other battles now that they’ve won this one.
Nicely done, Broward County. Not only did you issue everyone else a reminder about preemption in the state, but you’ve empowered a state-level organization to pick up their battles against gun control elsewhere. I mean, it’s almost poetic, really.
Is it wrong that I’m now kind of intrigued as to what the next bit of stupidity to come out of Broward County might be?