South Florida cities plan to sue state over penalties on local gun laws


  • Photo via Michael Saechang/Flickr
At least 10 South Florida cities are planning to sue Gov. Rick Scott and other state officials to invalidate penalties against elected officials who try to enact local gun laws.

Currently, elected officials who pass gun laws can be removed from office by the governor, fined up to $5,000 and can be personally sued.

Weston city officials announced Monday that they will sue the state in an effort to "invalidate the extreme and extraordinary penalties that deter and chill local officials from even considering reasonable, constitutional firearms regulations in their own communities," according to a news release. The lawsuit alleges the penalties against local regulation of firearms are "invalid and unconstitutional" because among other things, they infringe on free speech, violate legislative immunity and conflict with the governor's limited power to removed local officials.

After 17 students and teachers were killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, Coral Gables commissioners unanimously passed a ban on military-style assault weapons despite the state prohibition. But a month later, Coral Gables leaders backed away from the measure, citing the severe financial penalties for themselves and the potential of a lawsuit against the city, the Miami Herald reports.

The other nine cities participating in the lawsuit include Miramar, Pompano Beach, Lauderhill, Miami Gardens, South Miami, Pinecrest, Cutler Bay, Miami Beach and Coral Gables.

UPDATE: Orlando Weekly reached out to Gov. Rick Scott's office for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

In an email to the News Service of Florida, Marion Hammer, the Florida lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, said elected officials have to follow the statue regardless of "how important they think they are."

"When they willfully and knowingly violate state law they have to be held accountable," Hammer told NSF. "They remind me of disobedient children who whine about being punished for doing something they knew was wrong and were warned about the consequences. I personally don't think the penalties are severe enough."

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