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County Takes First Step Toward Closing Gun Show Loophole

Leon County Courthouse,
Michael Rivera via Wikimedia Commons

Leon County Commissioners have agreed to hear a proposed ordinance to close the so-called gun loophole.

Local governments have little say over the rules that govern firearms. The state passed legislation preempting any local ordinances on the issue. But County attorney Herbert Theile says there is one exception.

The Florida legislature cannot by statute eliminate provisions that are in the Florida constitution. And there exists in the Florida constitution a provision that allows counties to adopt a regulatory ordinance that would in the phrase that is used, ‘close the gun show loophole,’” Theile says.

That means local governments can require sales made in places like gun shows, or even garage sales to follow certain rules—like performing a background check and imposing a waiting period. Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley wants the county to again consider making that rule. She says the County discussed a similar proposal in 2013, but it didn’t go forward.

“At that time we really heard very little from our local community and we were really bombarded from people who were opposed to closing the gun show loophole all over the country and really all over the world from people who were very opposed to it. So we withdrew it feeling a lack of interest. As you know, vividly and tragically, so much has happened not just in the past month, but in those past four years as well,” Lindley says.

Commissioners heard from a long list of community members Tuesday, who spoke largely in support of an ordinance change. Some critics of the plan raised concerns about the impact on law-abiding gun owners and say the rule may be difficult to enforce. Commissioners agreed to hold a hearing on a proposed ordinance that would require background checks and a five-day waiting period. That meeting is scheduled for April 10.

Follow @Regan_McCarthy

Regan McCarthy is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media. Before coming to Tallahassee, Regan graduated with honors from Indiana University’s Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. She worked for several years for NPR member station WFIU in Bloomington, Ind., where she covered local and state government and produced feature and community stories.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

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