Broward County sues Florida for county’s right to enforce firearms laws

firearms restrictions

Earlier this week the Broward County Commission joined the cities of Miami, Miami Gardens, Pompano Beach, Pinecrest, South Miami, Cutler Bay and Lauderhill, in filing a lawsuit against the state of Florida. The law is seeking the state to remove a law that prevents local governments from  passing tighter gun control laws.

According to the County, filing the lawsuit was influenced by the pushback from students and parents arising from the mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14 this year.

Make 2011 Florida law unconstitutional

The lawsuit filed on Monday seeks the court’s ruling making a 2011 Florida law unconstitutional. Under the terms of that law, signed by Governor Rick Scott, a local (city or county) official can be fined $5,000 or be removed from office if that official attempts to introduce or pass gun control laws outside of laws passed by the state legislature.  

The commissioners argue that the county should have the right, and is better equipped, under the “home rule” clause of Florida’s constitution, to impose gun control.

Commissioner Nancy Rich says if a county or city see the necessity, and wants, to pass effective gun control  laws that county or city should be allowed to do so. “That makes complete sense, as by having the right to pass such laws at the local level it enhances the ability to keep our communities safer.”

First Florida county

Broward County is the first Florida County to file such a lawsuit, but according to reports Miami-Dade County is also contemplating filing a similar suit.

Beverly Ammar, a Broward resident, voter and business woman, said she “is flabbergasted to learn that county and city officials can be fined, and even removed from office, if they try to pass and enforce gun legislation. The local municipalities really have little power to protect us citizens.”

“Basically ineffective”

According to local attorney Malcolm Bernard even if the county and the city passes gun control legislation like Broward did in April these are “basically ineffective” under the law. “If the County wants to enforce the legislation it could mean commissioners could be removed by the state governor,” he said.

In April, the Broward County Commission passed a  resolution that includes having a five-day waiting period before a firearm can be purchased in the county, and to regulate the sale of certain gun accessories. According to Bernard, those resolutions are basically “window dressing” as the current law makes the commissioner, and commissioner in other counties and cities “toothless.”

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