Judge clears way for challenges to gun law
A circuit judge has given a boost to more than 30 local governments challenging a 2011 state law that threatens stiff penalties for city or county officials who approve gun restrictions.
Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson last week refused a request by Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office to dismiss three consolidated lawsuits that contend the 2011 law, which threatens penalties such as removal from office, is unconstitutional. Local governments challenged the law after the February mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, as at least some cities and counties looked at approving gun-related measures.
The Legislature passed the tough penalties in 2011 as a way of enforcing a decades-old law that gives control of gun regulation to the state rather than local governments — a concept known as state “preemption.” The 2011 law, in part, threatens removal from office and fines for city and county officials who pass restrictions that violate the older preemption law.
But in court documents, attorneys for the cities and counties argued that the penalties are unconstitutional on a series of grounds and have had a “chilling effect” on local officials considering gun restrictions.