Florida Seeks To Crack Down On Unwritten Anti-Gun Policies

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

Florida may not be the pro-gun state they were a couple of years ago, but they’re still pretty pro-gun. They value preemption, for example. After all, local gun control creates a difficult patchwork for travelers to navigate, and states are right to put a clamp on that kind of thing.

However, it seems there are some places that have anti-gun policies that aren’t exactly written down.

Now, state lawmakers are looking to clamp down on that too.

Legislation to prevent local governments from creating their own unwritten gun policies is ready for the full House’s consideration.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 15-2 to approve Rep. Cord Byrd‘s bill (HB 1409) clarifying the state’s preemption over local firearm and ammunition laws.

State law expressly prohibits a local government from creating an “ordinance, regulation, measure, directive, rule, enactment, order or policy” relating to guns that is more restrictive than state law. The broad list was intended to show it includes unwritten policies, but some courts have sided with cities and counties on unwritten rules.

“This does not add anything new,” Byrd, a Neptune Beach Republican, told the panel. “It just clarifies what already exists to make sure that the law is being followed as intended by this body.”

While the targeted rules are unwritten, he noted it must come from an official, like a Sheriff or a police officer.

“This isn’t an individual officer going rogue and doing something on their own,” Byrd said. “This has to be something that the leadership of the agency is telling or informing their agency as an unwritten policy.”

By clearly defining the state’s intent to overrule unwritten policies, the Representative hopes to create a chilling effect, dissuading municipalities from creating policies that courts will inevitably defeat.

Honestly, this is a good thing. Officials creating anti-gun policies that skirt the law simply by not writing them down can be extremely problematic. By explicitly banning this kind of behavior, they put an end to unwritten laws that can make life difficult for law-abiding citizens.

The fact that these measures aren’t written down makes it even more difficult for folks to keep up with stuff.

In fact, I’m still baffled that the courts even allowed this sort of thing to go on for this long. Regardless, I’m glad to see this being addressed. While I don’t know of anyone who has had issues with this, it doesn’t really matter. Law enforcement agencies should never be able to create the laws they enforce. Unwritten policies can have a similar effect, and it’s good to see officials trying to put an end to it.

The fact that it went through the committee so easily suggests it won’t have much trouble in the legislature as a whole. That’s good news for Florida gun owners, as well as for others who may visit the state.

Jul 27, 2021 12:30 PM ET