Firearm Preemption Case Gets Hearing

Jan 10, 2017

Credit Regan McCarthy WFSU News

A panel of judges heard arguments Tuesday in a court case involving Mayor Andrew Gillum and other members of the city commission who voted against repealing a pair of local gun ordinances. The case may have larger implications surrounding what’s known as home rule.

The first district court of appeals must consider whether the city went afoul of the law when it left a pair of provisions regulating gun use on the books. Eric Friday, general counsel for the gun rights organization Florida Carry says the law is clear.

“These officials took swore an oath and took a job to follow the laws of Florida and the’ve chosen not to do so. They have chosen, or they have stated here, that they want to continue to regulate fire arms whether the legislature tells them they can or cannot,” Friday says.

But city attorneys argue the state’s preemption law violates city commissioners’ rights under the state constitution. Lauren Lennon says that’s because it violates the commissioners’ legislative immunity by carrying penalties and fines, even allowing them to be personally sued based on how they vote.

“Local elected officials should be able to represent their constituents without fear of fines, removal from public office or removal of defense funds,” Lennon says.

Mayor Andrew Gillum says this case goes beyond the state’s firearm preemption law. He he worries similar legislation could be applied to many other areas the city currently regulates.

“Nowhere have we seen the kind of overreach that occurs in this case and while our case has to do with guns, take out for a moment, guns and supplement in there land use regulation, water quality regulation, environmental regulation, local polices governing everything from our environment and wages to LGBT rights—you name it,” Gillum says.

Gillum is using the case to launch a push against lawmakers in an effort to keep them from passing more legislation that could infringe on local rule.