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Manatee County is poised to join Florida's 'gun sanctuary' areas

Government officials sit at dias as citizens ask them questions
Manatee County Commission
Manatee County Commissioners at a public commissions meeting 2-14

The commission voted to have the county attorney work on a proposal that would turn Manatee County into a "gun sanctuary."

As discussions continue nationwide about how to deal with gun regulations, some counties in Florida are taking extra precautions to protect people's Second Amendment rights.

Forty counties across the state have joined the growing ranks of areas known as "gun sanctuaries."

In these counties and cities, the government has passed legislation that would see them refuse to follow any federal gun control laws they deem a breach to their constitutional rights.

Some of these include mandatory background checks, red flag laws, and bans on high capacity magazines.

Manatee Commissioner Amanda Ballard tried easing some of the tensions brought on by this proposal at last week's meeting, which was held on the fifth anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that killed 17 students and faculty members.

"It is not creating any new right to own a gun. It's not creating any more guns. It's not increasing the likelihood of violence in Manatee County," she said.

The proposal, which would see the county attorney develop a formal declaration proclaiming Manatee County as a gun sanctuary, was met with unanimous support from commissioners. Commissioner George Kruse was not in attendance.

Some community members also voiced approval during the public comment section of the meeting — but not everyone agrees with this new legislation.

Patricia Brigham, president of the gun control group End Gun Violence Florida, believes that making the county a sanctuary is a step in the wrong direction.

“It's the height of recklessness. We have a state awash in firearms — 3,000 gun homicides or gun deaths a year,” said Brigham.

"The last thing we need to be saying is that we aren't going to follow a federal or state law if we think it's against the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment has been twisted into something that it never really was."

Brigham also pointed to a law proposed for the 2023 Florida legislative session that would allow people to carry a weapon without needing a permit.

"The solution to out growing problem with gun violence in Florida and the rest of the country is not to pass more lax gun laws, it is not to institute gun sanctuaries," she said. "We need a good, smart, wise, responsible gun reform in the state of Florida."

No date has been set for the Manatee County Commission to take up the sanctuary approval.

Thomas Ouellette is is the WUSF Rush Family / USF Zimmerman Radio News intern for spring of 2023.