The recent Florida high school mass shooting which took the lives of 17 students and faculty has led to renewed calls for stronger gun control laws.
However, Florida’s cities and towns have little to no power for bringing in stricter gun control regulations.
A Miami Herald report highlighted that as a result of a law passed by the Florida state legislature in 2011, any mayor who tries to enact tougher firearms laws can face fines of $5,000 personally, and may also face removal from office.
Additionally, towns who try to enforce laws that are not in line with existing state gun regulations may face up to $100,000 in legal damages. State law also bar local city officials from making use of public funds to put up a legal defence in regards to cases involving gun laws.
Case Filed Against Tallahassee
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum had highlighted a few weeks prior to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that the state laws go beyond ruling that local governments can not regulate gun laws and in fact levy “severe penalties” against the official as “an individual.”
The comments by Gillum came while he was in preparation for a court appearance in a case that has been filed against the city of Tallahassee on behalf of gun-rights advocates.
The city along with its officials are being sued since a Tallahassee local law bans people from firing a gun in public parks, which is seen to be stricter than what the state laws indicate. The Mayor is being represented in court by pro-bono lawyers due to the state law that prohibits use of taxpayer funds for such legal defences.
In this case, the court supported Tallahassee, noting that it could not direct the city to repeal any ordinance that it wasn’t currently enforcing.
Law Rolled Back Gun Restriction Placed By Local Governments
As per a 2011 New York Times report, the rules which prohibit cities from enforcing gun laws stricter than state laws would have resulted in many municipalities allowing practices that had been barred until then.
For example in Palm Beach Country, the local government would have had to eliminate regulations that disallowed people from taking guns into parks and county government buildings, while in Lake County, firearms will have to be allowed in libraries.
Residents Not In Support Of Gun-Control Regulations
Republican State Senator Dennis Baxley of Florida who is a vocal gun-rights supporter, stated recently that the state’s residents are not in favour of tougher gun-control regulations despite the recent deadly school shooting.
Baxley said that there was no “interest” on that matter, and that people are “comfortable that freedom works.”