Florida Legislature: Cities, Town, Counties Can't Ban Guns

Residents of Florida who wish to carry guns into public parks, recreation centers and city halls can now do so with impunity thanks to a new state law that repeals city, town and county ordinances that restrict the rights of licensed gun owners.

This new law will take effect October 1st, and it will help ensure that the rights of responsible gun owners are not infringed.  In fact, the new law gives gun owners the right to sue for damages if they believe someone has trammeled their rights.

state of florida shaped gun

The punishment for infringing one’s gun rights, is a $5,000 fine.

Although many believe this is a huge step forward for Florida gun owners, there are several caveats or exceptions to the new law.  The first is that businesses still have the choice on whether to allow patrons to carry concealed weapons on their premises.  The second is it is still illegal to carry firearms into schools and bars and government buildings (while a city council, school board, or county commission is meeting). One can now bring a firearm into a government building when those meetings/events are not in session.  And lastly, there’s that wacky law that prohibits open carry unless one is going (or returning from) hunting, camping, fishing.

florida senate chamber

As one would imagine, reception for the new law amongst Florida residents is mixed.

Aaron Campbell, vice mayor of Miami Gardens told the Miami-Hearld “This probably passed because of someone from the NRA, someone who doesn’t care about urban conditions.  It’s sad that a piece of legislation can pass like this.”  According to the Miami-Hearld, just last week in Miami Gardens a young couple was gunned down at a gas station.

Proponents of the law, like its sponsor Rep. Matt Gaetz, believe it provides clarity for gun owners, city officials, residents and law enforcement.  Gaetz old the Miami-Hearld, “We have hundreds of government entities in Florida. If each one developed its own nuanced style of regulating gun laws, just someone crossing county lines could become a criminal.”

rep matt gaetz

Some gun-control advocates believe the move to centralize Florida gun laws at the state level was a deliberate maneuver to strip local authorities from establishing the laws that work for them.

“The NRA has been trying to shift gun rules to state legislatures because the group can appeal to conservative lawmakers from rural areas who are more likely to be pro gun,” said Ladd Everitt, spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, in an interview with the Miami-Hearld.

Ladd Everitt

Perhaps what Everitt failed to realize is that the Florida Legislature has had the exclusive right to regulate firearms since 1987.

He also added this, “It’s terrible policy. It’s ill advised. It will cost lives.  And it has nothing to do with the intent of the founders. They always intended to allow local control.”

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