September 15, 2018 Feature

Florida Cities Challenge Penalties Imposed on Local Officials for Adoption of Local Gun Regulations

By Martha H. Chumbler

In the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, nine Florida cities and many of their mayors and commissioners have filed suit challenging the constitutionality of Florida Statutes § 790.33(3). The statute, first enacted in 1987, imposes penalties for the local adoption of all but a few very narrow categories of gun regulations. It preempts to the state “the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition” except as otherwise provided in Florida’s Constitution and in general law. Before the 2011 amendment to add subsection (3), a local government adoption of a regulation that violated this preemption could result, if challenged, in a court order declaring the local regulation null and void. Subsection (3), herein “the Penalty Provisions,” imposes more draconian consequences, subjecting individual local officials to personal liability and possible removal from office for a violation.

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