Florida's New Gun Law Bans Local Restrictions

History of Florida's Gun Law Regulations

Since 1987, Florida law prevented local governments from passing restrictions that went beyond state law.  Despite these restrictions, local municipalities passed their patchwork of local ordinance and localized administrative rules that purported to prohibit the possession of firearms or ammunition in a way that was broader than the laws passed by the State of Florida for such regulation.

Often the local ordinances and administrative rules were arbitrary and selectively enforced. Local ordinances included various waiting period between purchase and delivery of handguns. Other local rules and ordinances prohibited possessing a firearm or ammunition in various parks, beaches and other locations.

Florida's New Gun Regulation Legislation

Florida new gun law started as Senate Bill 402 and then became House Bill 45. The bill is known as the "Joe Carlucci Uniform Firearms Act" which passed by a 30-8 margin. The creation and enforcement of local gun regulations and ordinances will end on October 1, 2011, when Florida's newly amendment firearm statute section 790.33 officially becomes law.

Intent of Florida's New Gun Laws

The intent of Florida's new gun law is to declare all local ordinances and regulations null and void which have been enacted by any jurisdictions other than the State of Florida and the federal government. The other stated intent is to prohibit the enactment of any future ordinances or regulations relating to firearms, ammunition, or components thereof unless specifically authorized by this section or general law.

The enforcement provisions of Florida's new gun law were designed to deter and prevent the violation of this new law, including the abuse of official authority that occurs when local enactments are knowingly passed in violation of state law. The new law also contains enforcement provisions to prevent any violation under color of local authority of rights.

Enforcement Provision Preventing Local Regulation of Gun Laws in Florida

Any local official who attempts to enforce an illegal local regulation or local ordinance faces a $5,000 fine that must be paid by the local official personally. In fact, no local funds can be used to defend the action except that a public defender or appointed counsel can be provided to an indigent person accused of this crime. Furthermore, the local official also faces being removed from office by the Governor of the State of Florida.

Preventing a Patchwork of Confusing Local Firearm Regulation 

Advocates for gun rights consider this bill an important piece of legislation that prevents the unfair prosecution of Florida citizens as they travel throughout the State. Those individuals are often unaware of small difference in the local laws regulating firearm possession that varied from city to city and county to county throughout the State of Florida.

Effect of the Florida's New Statutory Scheme for Gun and Ammunition Regulation

This new legislation for the regulation of Florida's laws concerning firearms and ammunition does the following:   
  • Reorganizes and clarifies the fact that the power to regulate firearms and ammunition belongs exclusively to the State of Florida; 
  • Prohibits local officials with municipal governments throughout the State of Florida from willfully and knowingly violating the Florida Legislature's ability to regulate the firearms and ammunition laws and rules. 
  • Eliminates provisions authorizing counties to adopt ordinance requiring waiting period between purchase and delivery of handgun. 
  • Provides for injunctive relief from enforcement of invalid local ordinances and other regulations and rules. 
  • Provides for a civil penalty for willfully and knowing violating the provision of this new law. 
  • Prevents the fine from being paid from public funds.
  • Prevents public funds from being used to reimburse unlawful conduct of the person's charged under this statute with willfully and knowingly violating the provisions of this law. 
  • Allows the local official to be termination from employment or an employment contract and/or removed from office.
  • Provides for injunctive and declaratory relief for persons and organizations specified by the legislation. 
  • Provides for specified damages and interest to be paid on such damages including:
    • attorney's fees in the trial and appellate courts to be determined by the rate used by the federal district court with jurisdiction over the political subdivision for civil rights actions;
    • liquidated damages of three times the amount of certain attorney's fees; and 
    • litigation costs in the trial and appellate courts.
So what do you think of the new legislation?

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