Fried directs agency to remove its name from appeal of gun preemption law

by | Jul 31, 2019

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has directed her office to remove itself from a notice of appeal seeking to overturn the state’s loss in Weston v. DeSantis, in which courts ruled that Florida’s gun preemption law’s punitive provisions are unconstitutional. 

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services had been named in the case dating back to the prior administration.

Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office decided Tuesday to appeal the judge’s ruling that struck down a state law that threatened tough penalties for locally approved gun regulations.

“The Florida gun preemption law’s punishments are some of the most extreme anywhere in the nation – and the courts have rightly ruled them unconstitutional,” Fried said in a written statement Wednesday morning.

Since 1987, Florida has had what is known as a “preemption” law. It’s intended to prevent local governments from passing gun regulations that are stricter than state firearms laws. 

In 2011, lawmakers passed another measure. It included a series of steps designed to prevent local governments and officials from violating the 198imposing penalties of up to $5,000 against officials and potential removal from office.

“Our state shouldn’t threaten local elected mayors and councilmembers with fines, lawsuits, and removal from office. We should restore local democracy and allow communities to consider common-sense local measures that reflect their values,” Fried went on to say.

“That’s why I’ve directed the Attorney General to remove my Department from the appeal she filed last night – an appeal that is not only a waste of taxpayer money and time, but the wrong direction for our state.”

The case has involved about 30 municipalities across the state, mostly in South Florida,  But it also includes Orlando, Gainesville and Tallahassee, and Miami-Dade, Broward and Leon counties. 

“We’re convinced — and we’ll go fight in the DCA — that they don’t want a decision in the DCA that will be bad for them,” Weston Mayor Daniel Stermer said during a news conference in his city commission chambers earlier this week. “This is good for the cities, this is good for the people who live in our cities, and it provides local control back to us without fear of being sued, of being removed.”

Dodson found that the 2011 law was unconstitutional, but he did not strike down the underlying 1987 law.

“In accordance with the legal doctrine of preemption, the Legislature may prohibit local regulation of firearms and accessories,” Dodson wrote.



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