Florida Supreme Court upholds gun law penalizing challengers

Jan 18, 2023, 10:10 PM | Updated: Jan 19, 2023, 12:21 pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida lawmakers can fine local government officials who attempt to restrict gun and ammunition sales under a state law upheld by the state Supreme Court on Thursday.

Former Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and some municipalities sued the state over a law that preempts local governments from enacting gun sale restrictions, saying it goes too far because it also calls for fines against elected officials who voted for restrictions.

But justices on the conservative court disagreed in a 4-1 decision, saying local officials don’t have exemption from the fines.

“It is not a core municipal function to occupy an area that the Legislature has preempted, and local governments have no lawful discretion or authority to enact ordinances that violate state preemption,” the court wrote.

The preemption law was revised in 2011 to include the penalty provisions — and later challenged by several local governments who wanted to enact gun safety measures in the wake of the 2018 Parkland high school shooting that left 17 dead. Fried, who left office earlier this month after an unsuccessful run for governor, later joined the suit.

The law calls for a fine of $5,000 for officials who willfully violated the legislation. In his dissent, Justice Jorge Labarga said the punishment is “an impermissible judicial intrusion into the official’s legislative thought process, and it undermines the official’s ability to effectuate the constituents’ will.”

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