Florida Cities sue the State, Seeking Stronger Gun Laws

At least ten cities in South Florida are suing the state in order to enact their own gun control laws. Under a law passed in 2011, local governments in Florida cannot place restrictions on gun ownership that are stricter than existing state laws. The mayors of several cities, including Miami Beach, Miramar, Coral Gables, and Miami Gardens have all expressed their desire to limit the sale and distribution of firearms in their own cities. Gun-free venues, bans on the sale of certain firearms, and other proposed legislation would violate the 2011 law, leaving elected officials at risk of removal from office. Those who violate the state's law can face thousands of dollars in fines, not to mention legal fees. Elected officials who attempt to enact any kind of local gun regulation can be promptly removed from office.

City officials who have spoken out have stated that they feel a personal responsibility to protect their residents. In the wake of the shooting in Parkland, Broward county officials have made concerted efforts to minimize gun violence in their own backyard. One lawsuit is being managed by Weston's city attorney, Jamie Cole, with Coral Springs leading another. Plaintiffs include Miramar, Miami Beach, Miami Gardens, Coral Gables, Pompano Beach, Pinecrest, South Miami, Cutler Bay, Lauderhill, Coral Springs, Coconut Creek, and Pembroke Pines. Several of these cities funnel children into Stoneman Douglas High School, where the February 14th shooting took place. Officials say they are under pressure from residents to enact stricter gun legislation. "If it happened in Parkland, why can't it happen here?"

31 city officials from South Florida have joined the suit, seeking only the power to regulate guns in public city spaces. Miramar opened a brand new 5,000-seat amphitheater, but cannot prohibit guns in the venue. The mayor of Miami Beach expressed concern over concealed weapons in City Hall. The mayor of Coral Gables abandoned a plan to ban military-style rifles after he was met with threats of lawsuits. These city officials claim the law infringes on their First Amendment rights and affects their ability to properly govern. The lawsuit aims to strike down the 2011 law penalizing cities for enacting their own gun laws.

Proponents of the lawsuit state that the existing laws are unconstitutional, unreasonably restricting the ability of city officials to protect their own citizens. The state of Florida is one of the largest states in America, with as many rural areas as there are large cities. Such a diverse state requires a diverse set of laws that are tailored to the specific area. Stringent gun regulations may be necessary in large cities with high populations, but not as necessary in rural areas. Attorneys have requested that this case be expedited, but it is likely to take several years to resolve.

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Sources:

South Florida cities sue state over right to regulate guns

These 10 cities want to regulate guns. They sued Florida over it.

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