State And National Groups Gear Up For Florida Preemption Fight


Following the antics of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Florida lawmakers sought to give a little teeth to their preemption law. They passed a measure that imposed penalties on lawmakers who willful ignore the state’s law banning local governments from passing gun control bills. Preemption laws make it so there’s just one set of rules across the state, making it easier for law-abiding citizens to keep track of the laws in question.

However, some have apparently figured local officials who break the law willfully shouldn’t face penalties. They even got a court to agree with them.

That just ramped everything up, though, and now state and national groups on both sides of the gun debate are preparing for battle.

The legal battle over a 2011 Florida gun law continues to ratchet up.

State and national groups — including two prominent gun-control organizations — filed briefs Thursday urging the 1st District Court of Appeal to reject the law, which threatens tough penalties if city and county officials approve gun regulations.

One of the briefs described the National Rifle Association-backed law as having “unprecedented penalty provisions” that led to similar measures in other states. The brief, filed by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Brady gun-control group, the League of Women Voters of Florida and Equality Florida Institute, Inc., said the law has “chilling effects” on city and county officials.

“Most importantly, (the law’s) harsh penalty provisions will deter local legislators from experimenting with any solutions directed to the problem of gun violence, depriving Floridians of ordinances promoting their safety and security,” the brief said.

Of course, the brief failed to mention that that was the freaking point.

Preemption laws bar municipalities from passing their own gun control laws in the first place. The penalties themselves don’t actually bar local governments from such experimentation, existing state law already does this. The penalties simply provide teeth to a law that is constantly ignored. Those efforts cost the taxpayers millions of dollars every time some local government tries to “experiment” in defiance of the law.

Then again, groups like Giffords aren’t fans of preemption, but that just betrays their own hypocrisy.

You see, they argue that preemption prevents local communities from experimenting with gun control, yet their own proposals would bar local governments from experimenting with gun rights. They’re vocally opposed to the Second Amendment sanctuary movement as well, which is little more than an attempt to exert local control over gun rights.

Why, it’s almost like the problem for them isn’t experimentation but the fact that they can’t push gun control at every level of government.

Of course, we already knew that, now didn’t we?

Groups on both sides of the debate are gearing up for the fight, but I expect this to end up before the Supreme Court at some point. How that will go, though, could be anyone’s guess. The truth is that while it’s easy to view this as a gun rights issue, it could easily be framed as something else and I’m not going to just pretend the Court might not go against it on some kind of grounds.

Then again, they might smack Giffords and company down, which would be a vital and important win for everyone.