Ten South Florida cities filed a lawsuit Monday afternoon against the state because they want the power to regulate firearms locally.
There has been a national conversation about guns after the Feb. 14 Parkland school shooting that left 17 dead and 17 wounded. Now, some cities want to undo a Florida law that prevents them from passing local gun-control laws.
They’re challenging a 2011 state statute, backed by the gun lobby, which outlines penalties for elected officials who try to enact local gun laws, including a $5,000 fine and the prospect of being removed from office.
The cities are suing Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and other state officials, alleging that the Florida law is invalid and unconstitutional.
The lawsuit states the governor should not be able to remove an elected official for violating the firearm rules because it “is not tantamount to an indictment for committing a crime.”
Weston officials said their lawsuit “seeks to invalidate the extreme and extraordinary penalties that deter and chill local officials from even considering reasonable, constitutional firearms regulations in their own communities.”
Nine cities are joining Weston including: Cutler Bay, Lauderhill, Miami Beach, Miami Gardens, Miramar, the village of Pinecrest, Pompano Beach and South Miami.
Coral Gables, which also joined the lawsuit, dropped a plan last month to ban the sale of military-style rifles, saying it would open the city up to lawsuits.
“The monetary exposure was too much,” Coral Gables Mayor Raúl Valdés-Fauli said Monday.
Valdés-Fauli had initially proposed banning the sale of any firearm “capable of fully automatic, semiautomatic or burst fire.” The legislation identified 65 gun makes, including an AR-15, the rifle used in the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“It’s the right thing to do, and I’m glad Weston has taken the lead,” he said. “It’s unconstitutional because we have the duty to regulate our zoning and public safety. The state is making it impossible for us.”
Lauderhill Mayor Richard Kaplan said the state’s restrictions are not fair to cities: “It makes it’s an intolerable situation.”
He said cities have to fight it “because then they’ll do it another area and then another area. The Legislature went too far and the cities have to say ‘no’ and if we don’t say no they’ll do it on another area because they think they can get away with it.”
Other governments are expected to follow.
On April 10, Broward County commissioners are expected to ask their attorney to file a lawsuit against the state, challenging the laws. The county wants to create regulate accessories to firearms such as large capacity magazines, and create zoning ordinances that could outlaw guns at all times in some areas such as polling places and school administration buildings.
“Local residents are demanding these types of actions,” said Commissioner Michael Udine, whose district includes Parkland. “We should be able to make these common sense types of ordinances to deal with our local population. I think this is something people are still talking about and I think people want to see common sense regulations. And that’s the bottom line.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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