DeSantis Gets Bill To Strengthen Florida Preemption Law

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

The state of Florida has been previously referred to as the “Gunshine State.” Despite a flurry of bad laws in the wake of Parkland, they tend to be pretty pro-gun. It doesn’t make the post-Parkland idiocy any better, mind you, but it does look like just a blip on the radar.

One of the many good laws regarding firearms on the books up that way is their preemption law.

Now, it looks like lawmakers want to make that law even better.

The Legislature has passed a bill further restricting local governments’ ability to pass gun control measures.

The bill (SB 1884) clarifies that existing preemptions on local firearm and ammunition laws also apply to unwritten rules and policies. The legislation would also make clear local governments can’t bypass court cases simply by scrapping gun laws.

Rep. Cord Byrd, a Neptune Beach Republican who has carried the issue in the House, said the Legislature needs to shore up the law because of defiant local officials. He cited multiple examples just this year of local governments passing ordinances despite preemption laws in place since 1987. It’s the same reason in 2011 that the Legislature put in penalties for local officials who vote for local ordinances regardless of state law.

“Local governments thumbed their nose at this body, thumbed their nose at this Legislature, and said we do not care,” Byrd said.

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat, criticized Byrd directly on the bill, saying since Byrd represents gun owners who have sued local governments over such regulations, he stands to profit from this legislation.

Byrd pushed back on that, saying he wants to send a message so strong, governments stop wasting taxpayer money passing laws they have no right to consider.

“I hope I never take another preemption case again,” he said.

The bill passed the House, 78-39, which isn’t really a surprise.

The truth of the matter is that a preemption law has to have teeth if it’s going to be effective. Otherwise, it’s just words on a page, and that’s less than useless in protecting gun rights.

At no point should local governments be making gun control laws when the state says they can’t. Granted, no one should be making gun control laws at all, but that’s especially true when it’s illegal to do so. Further, making it so local governments can’t dodge the ramifications of lawsuits challenging those laws by simply repealing the law.

No, they need to feel the heat they bring down on themselves.

Of course, Rep. Smith wants to make this about Byrd profiting from the law, but if the law has its desired effect, how could he? If it stops communities from trying to create their own gun control laws, then wouldn’t he run out of preemption cases to work? Honestly, if anything, it looks like Byrd is trying to reduce the amount of business he has.

I can respect that.

Just like I can respect any state trying to make damn sure local communities don’t try and cook up their own hare-brained schemes for gun control.

The bill now heads to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature. I can’t imagine that the governor would reject this bill, especially since he’s weighing a run for president in 2024, so hopefully these new protections for gun owners will be in place before long.