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Florida State, Local Governments Tussle Over Gun Control

A gun with bullets on the side.
Wikimedia Commons
There is a struggle happening between state and local governments over Florida's "preemption statute."

When it comes to Florida’s gun laws, there is a struggle happening between state and local governments.

The "preemption statute" that was originally passed in 1987 forbid local governments from passing gun control legislation. However, there were not harsh penalties for breaking the law.

But in 2011, the statute was changed to include punishments for local leaders who introduce gun legislation in their communities.

Those leaders face a $5,000 fine and potential removal from office.

On Friday, Circuit Judge Charles Dodson struck down that statute, ruling these punishments are unconstitutional.

Speaking during a media conference call featuring supporters of the ruling, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said that "for a moment, local democracy was back on track."

But it didn't take long for the state of Florida to react - Attorney General Ashley Moody announced Tuesday that the state would be filing an appeal.

Fried strongly opposes the appeal, saying that she thinks local communities should have control over gun regulations.

"It's time to stop wasting taxpayers’ time, money, and resources with this appeal," Fried said. "Given the tragedies our communities have faced, they deserve the right to make those decisions for themselves without Tallahassee politicians getting in the way."

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said each city in Florida is different, and that their gun regulations should not all look the same.

"A backyard gun range in a very rural community might not be a problem," Kriseman said. "But in my city it's a big problem when we have homes that are merely hundreds of feet apart and someone is setting up a backyard gun range. So a preemption that prohibits me in any way from keeping my citizens safe is intolerable."

Carrie Pinkard is the Stephen Noble news intern for the summer 2019 semester. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in English, before heading to USF St Pete to pursue a master’s in journalism.