Local Gun Regulations Case Set to Reach Florida Supreme Court

September 13, 2021 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements

The Florida Supreme Court has issued an order to hear a challenge to the controversial 2011 state law on local gun regulations. Thirty local governments have sued to overturn the Florida law that enforces strict punishment on officials who challenge gun regulations. As it currently stands, the law leads to fines of up to $5,000 and potential removal from office for any official who attempts to pass gun regulations. 

What is the Current Law?

Since 1987, Florida has prohibited cities and counties from passing more strict firearms laws. The Florida Preemption law, which is codified in Fla. Statute §790.33, describes that the entire regulation of firearms and ammunition—including the purchase, sale, transfer, taxation, manufacture, ownership, possession, storage, and transportation—all fall under the State Constitution. All existing and future counties, cities, or towns cannot administer separate rules or regulations. Any rules or regulations attempted to be passed by such ordinances will be declared null and void. In addition, whoever attempts to pass stricter regulations can face fines and expulsion from their seat in office. 

Although it appears harsh, the purpose behind the law is to promote uniform firearm laws throughout the state and ensure Florida citizens who are lawful gun owners are not caught by surprise by different local regulations in different cities or towns.

The Fla. Statute §790.33 states that any regulation enacted by jurisdictions other than state and federal null and void, and that local jurisdictions must enforce the state firearm laws. Any city, county, town, or other local government who violates the Legislature’s field of regulation on firearms and ammunition may face the following penalties:

  • The court shall declare the improper ordinance, rule it as invalid, and issue a permanent injunction against the local government. It is not a defense to say that the local government was acting in good faith.
  • If the court claims that the violation was both knowing and willful, a civil fine up to $5,000 can be placed against the elected or appointed local government official whose jurisdiction the violation occurred in.
  • If the court claims the person acting in an official capacity for any entity is behind the violation, it shall be cause for termination of employment or contract removal from the office by the Governor.

What Do I Need to Carry a Concealed Weapon?

Fla. Statute §790.06  details the licensing requirements to carry a concealed weapon or firearm. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are the ones authorized to issue licenses for concealed weapons to the person deemed as qualified. The defining factors of a concealed firearm include handgun, electronic weapon, tear gas gun, and knife. If presented with a license, it remains valid for 7 years from the date of issue. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall issue a license if the applicant fits the following standards:

  • The person is a resident or citizen of the United States with the proper validation.
  • The person is 21 years of age or older.
  • The person does not suffer from any physical infirmity that would prevents the safe handling of a weapon or firearm.
  • The person has not been convicted of a felony.

In addition, the person must have not been:

  • Found guilty of a crime relating to controlled substances within a 3-year period of when the application was submitted; or
  • Committed for the abuse of a controlled substance by Florida or any other state.

For more information on the grounds to carry a concealed weapon, go here.

This law was again upheld in April after reviewing it in the 1st District Court of Appeal.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has recently brought the case to the Supreme Court in June, addressing that the sanctions for the 2011 law were unconstitutional. With the increase of mass shootings—including the 2017 Parkland school shooting—local governments in Florida are trying to push to implement stricter gun regulations. As it stands now, the law would award members of the public damages as well as attorney’s fees if they successfully sue the local government for improper gun regulations.

In 2019, government attorneys requested that the state require documentation or protective procedures to ensure compliance with background checks and the waiting times for gun purchases, as well as reporting of failed background checks. However, the proposal never went through because of the interference of the state laws. 

Now that the updated 2011 law is being taken to the Supreme Court, it gives Florida officials a chance to reconsider how current gun regulations should be upheld in the state. The safety of citizens is extremely important, and hopefully the courts can come to a shared agreement to make sure the priority of safety is kept higher than the fines to challenge the laws already in place.

Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one have been accused of gun or firearm charges, it is important to reach out to a Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney who has a strong understanding of how to defend your case. Don Pumphrey and team Pumphrey Law Firm have years of experience fighting for clients against firearm and weapon charges and will ensure each defense is explored in your favor. Contact Pumphrey Law Firm at (850) 681-7777 today for a free consultation regarding your case.

This article was written by Karissa Key

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