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Because Of New State Law, Cities And Counties Are Scrambling To Get Their Gun Laws Off The Books
St. Peteresburg Times ^ | September 1, 2011 | Curtis Krueger

Posted on 09/01/2011 6:38:43 AM PDT by Iron Munro

The state of Florida is going after a gang of gun outlaws by threatening them with $5,000 fines, firings and lawsuits.

So who's in the gang?

St. Petersburg, Brooksville, Tampa, Hillsborough County —and other scattered scofflaws.

As a result, city councils and county commissions are now scrambling to rewrite local laws, because they're staring down the barrel at those fines, firings and lawsuits.

St. Petersburg is getting ready to repeal its ordinance against discharging firearms in the city limits. Tarpon Springs made a similar decision in August. Brooksville killed a ban on guns in parks and also deleted a law that could have suspended the sale of ammunition and firearms during emergencies. There are many more.

All those ordinances have been illegal for years because state law prevents cities and counties from regulating guns. But a new law, set to take effect Oct. 1, takes it a step further. It allows judgments of up to $100,000 against local governments that enforce such laws. And, in an unusual move, the law also says local officials could be fired and fined $5,000, with no representation from the city or county attorney.

"It is from Pensacola to Key West and all points in between," said Kraig Conn, legislative counsel for the Florida League of Cities.

Conn said city officials at first reacted with "a level of disbelief" as they realized their governments could be penalized and "you're going to be held personally liable as well."

St. Petersburg police Chief Chuck Harmon said, "I think they went overboard. I understand if they want to regulate state gun laws as the Legislature has the authority to do. But what happens to an officer who may misapply an ordinance? That seems like an awful lot of penalties for something that may be unintentional."

State Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, who sponsored the law, said "There's been plenty of hand-wringing and bed-wetting from local government."

But he said something needed to be done to prevent them from "willfully" violating state law. He pointed to the city of South Miami, which passed an ordinance requiring trigger locks.

The National Rifle Association fought the law, which was overturned because of the state law preventing it. Even so, Gaetz said, "There was no way for the NRA to ever be made whole through the recovery of attorneys fees and everything else."

Now there is.

The story begins in 1987, when the Florida Legislature passed a law saying it controls "the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition."

Just in case that wasn't clear, the law spelled out that this power was "to the exclusion of all existing and future county, city, town, or municipal ordinances." It made exceptions for the Florida Constitution and "general law."

But apparently, it wasn't clear. Cities and counties continued regulating some aspects of guns and ammo, at the very least by keeping gun laws on the books.

Such as St. Petersburg, which has an ordinance preventing people from firing guns in the city limits. Or Brooksville, which banned guns in parks.

Occasionally, a city or county would bring some of its laws into line, as Pasco County did in 2003, by repealing most firearms regulations. The matter came to the county's attention because a local resident with a concealed gun permit liked riding his bike several times a week at the Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park and thought he should bring his gun with him for his own protection.

"In wooded areas like that, you're all by yourself," the man said at the time. "You're three, four miles out on the bike path, and anything could happen."

But other local laws have remained.

Pasco, for example, still has an ordinance that allows the county administrator to suspend the sale of alcohol, explosives or guns during a state of emergency. County Attorney Jeff Steinsnyder said the county would no longer enforce that ordinance, or any other gun control ordinances, once the state law takes effect. He said the ordinance likely would be stricken during a cleanup of the county's land development code.

The law does not mean that it's suddenly acceptable to fire guns at will. There is a state law against discharging a firearm in public.

Asked if it wouldn't be helpful to let officials keep guns out of city parks, Gaetz, the legislator, said it's never the law-abiding people with proper concealed weapons permits who cause trouble. It's always the people who are holding guns illegally.

Even with the new law, he doesn't expect a lot of fines and firings. He expects that cities and counties will continue taking their old gun laws off the books.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: banglist; guncontrol; gunlaws; guns

It's A Good Thing!


1 posted on 09/01/2011 6:38:46 AM PDT by Iron Munro
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To: Iron Munro; Joe Brower

About damn time!!

Joe, for your list.


2 posted on 09/01/2011 6:40:32 AM PDT by coloradan (The US has become a banana republic, except without the bananas - or the republic.)
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To: Iron Munro

‘The state of Florida is going after a gang of gun outlaws by threatening them with $5,000 fines, firings and lawsuits.

So who’s in the gang?

St. Petersburg, Brooksville, Tampa, Hillsborough County —and other scattered scofflaws.

As a result, city councils and county commissions are now scrambling to rewrite local laws, because they’re staring down the barrel at those fines, firings and lawsuits.’

The article makes this sound like a bad thing. Why? Is holding our govt to the law the wrong thing to do? It seems that the commies & statists at the Times need a refresher in American govt. or perhaps emigrate to a country more in keeping w/ their political ideology. Usually all the news from Floriduh is bad but this is certainly very good news indeed. Would like to see how it goes for those govt officials/agents who thumb their noses at the law. My guess is they’ll get off scott free as usual. Nonetheless the sentiment in the law is heart warming.


3 posted on 09/01/2011 6:46:10 AM PDT by 556x45
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To: Iron Munro
St. Petersburg police Chief Chuck Harmon said, "I think they went overboard. I understand if they want to regulate state gun laws as the Legislature has the authority to do. But what happens to an officer who may misapply an ordinance? That seems like an awful lot of penalties for something that may be unintentional."

Well, chief, maybe you will want to keep your boys and girls on a short leash and train them as to the law before you sic them on innocent citizens who may be the targets of misapplied ordinances.

How would those same citizens be treated by you and your ilk if that same citizen happens to break one of your laws? Is he going to have to deal with a lot of penalties for something that may be unintentional? Of course he would.

Stop the whining like a punk and get your people in line.
4 posted on 09/01/2011 6:47:48 AM PDT by Dr.Zoidberg (Warning: Sarcasm/humor is always engaged. Failure to recognize this may lead to misunderstandings.)
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To: Iron Munro
St. Petersburg police Chief Chuck Harmon said, "I think they went overboard. I understand if they want to regulate state gun laws as the Legislature has the authority to do. But what happens to an officer who may misapply an ordinance? That seems like an awful lot of penalties for something that may be unintentional."

Cry me a river, Chief. When this happens to a "civillian" your guys arest, you spout, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse." Same same here.

5 posted on 09/01/2011 6:48:28 AM PDT by Alas Babylon!
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To: Iron Munro

It’s about time these liberals face the music for denying us our second amendment rights!!!


6 posted on 09/01/2011 6:54:46 AM PDT by ontap
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To: JulieRNR21; kinganamort; katherineisgreat; floriduh voter; summer; Goldwater Girl; windchime; ...
Like I'm always saying, the more the lefties shriek, the more you know something good is going on.

Decades of flagrant anti-gun legislation is being rolled back at a rapid pace under Governor Rick Scott's leadership.

Horror of horrors! Blood in the Streets! Etc., etc...

Florida Freeper


7 posted on 09/01/2011 7:03:20 AM PDT by Joe Brower (Sheep have three speeds: "graze", "stampede" and "cower".)
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To: harpseal; TexasCowboy; nunya bidness; AAABEST; Travis McGee; Squantos; wku man; SLB; ...
Florida is indeed a great state for firearms rights.

Now if we just had some free woods to go shooting... Thirty years ago that wasn't a problem. Now, unless you know someone who owns a lot of property (or do yourself), it's the local range or nothing. A shame...

Click the Gadsden flag for pro-gun resources!

8 posted on 09/01/2011 7:07:46 AM PDT by Joe Brower (Sheep have three speeds: "graze", "stampede" and "cower".)
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To: coloradan; 556x45; Dr.Zoidberg; Alas Babylon!; ontap
Anyone know of if there is a firearm ping list that might find this article interesting?

“As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun, therefore, be the constant companion to your walks.”

– Thomas Jefferson


9 posted on 09/01/2011 7:08:43 AM PDT by Iron Munro (Muslims who advocate, support, or carry out Jihad give the other 1% a bad name)
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To: Joe Brower
It also bears mention that this protection for the right to keep and bear arms is due to hard-won Republican and conservative legislative dominance.
10 posted on 09/01/2011 7:11:17 AM PDT by Rockingham
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To: Iron Munro

Is this saying that the state now controls all gun laws, not the cities? This is not good. We the People ....


11 posted on 09/01/2011 7:12:40 AM PDT by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: Joe Brower
"...Gaetz, the legislator, said it's never the law-abiding people with proper concealed weapons permits who cause trouble. It's always the people who are holding guns illegally."

Finally, someone in the government who not only gets it, but also admits that he gets it. It's a start.

12 posted on 09/01/2011 7:20:24 AM PDT by TheOldLady (FReepmail me to get ON or OFF the ZOT LIGHTNING ping list.)
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To: coloradan
St. Petersburg police Chief Chuck Harmon said, "...But what happens to an officer who may misapply an ordinance?..."

Uh...jail time?

13 posted on 09/01/2011 7:27:45 AM PDT by moovova
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To: bboop
Is this saying that the state now controls all gun laws, not the cities?

From the article:

"The story begins in 1987, when the Florida Legislature passed a law saying it controls "the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition."

Just in case that wasn't clear, the law spelled out that this power was "to the exclusion of all existing and future county, city, town, or municipal ordinances." It made exceptions for the Florida Constitution and "general law."


14 posted on 09/01/2011 7:27:49 AM PDT by Iron Munro (Muslims who advocate, support, or carry out Jihad give the other 1% a bad name)
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To: 556x45
Liberal elites feel they have right to make the call on what's law and what's not - they don't need no stinkin' legislature or voters telling THEM what's right.
15 posted on 09/01/2011 7:33:02 AM PDT by GOPJ (126 people were indicted for being terrorists in the last two years. Every one of them was Muslim.)
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To: bboop

Uhhh, the (restrictive) local ordinances were enacted by local councils and politicians not We the People. The conservative state Representatives outlawed such local decrees as being violations of state firearms laws. That’s the We the People representation.

FL firearms law is the purview of the state not localities. The state Reps realize criminals will obtain firearms outside localities where they are restricted. They also understand the rationale that someone willing to break the law and harm others is also willing to break the law and use a firearm to do so. Restricting firearms only affects the intended victims of violent crime, the law-abiding citizens.


16 posted on 09/01/2011 7:36:50 AM PDT by Justa
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To: 556x45
The article makes this sound like a bad thing. Why?

I use to live in St. Pete. The St. Pete Times is owned and run by a cabal of flaming communists.

They have never met a tax that didn't need to be levied or increased, an intrusive, unconstitutional law that should not be passed, a corrupt democrat that did not deserve re-election, a conservative or libertarian that did not need to be villified, a government program that did not need to be expanded.....

The St. Pete Times is the epicenter of political evil in Pinellas county.

17 posted on 09/01/2011 7:51:02 AM PDT by sjmjax (Politicans are like bananas - they start out green, turn yellow, then rot.)
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To: Justa; bboop
Thank you -- I was about to post the exact same thing.

As for cities, I quote Thomas Jefferson regarding those:

"The mobs of the great cities add just so much to the support of pure government as sores do to the strength of the human body. It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution."

18 posted on 09/01/2011 7:59:58 AM PDT by Joe Brower (Sheep have three speeds: "graze", "stampede" and "cower".)
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To: bboop

The State of Florida is a organic, sovereign entity crated by the People of Florida and the US Congress . The cities and counties of Florida are not.

They are creations of the State and owe their existence to laws passed by the Legislature of Florida under authority granted to it by the Constitution of Florida.

Except as restricted by the Constitution of Florida, Legislature has the authority to create or abolish local governments and to set the limits of their authority. It is well with in the purview of the Legislature to restrict firearms laws to the state and prohibit the cities from creating firearms ordinances.


19 posted on 09/01/2011 8:09:49 AM PDT by GreenLanternCorps ("Barack Obama" is Swahili for "Jimmy Carter".)
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To: Iron Munro
All those ordinances have been illegal for years because state law prevents cities and counties from regulating guns. But a new law, set to take effect Oct. 1, takes it a step further. It allows judgments of up to $100,000 against local governments that enforce such laws. And, in an unusual move, the law also says local officials could be fired and fined $5,000, with no representation from the city or county attorney.

I see that Florida avoided the mistake that New Hampshire made. The law demands certain behavior with respect to guns from our cities and towns, but some of them simply ignore the law because there is no statutory penalty, only a civil cause of action on the part of the victim who has to pay their own way in order to enforce the law.

20 posted on 09/01/2011 8:26:05 AM PDT by mvpel (Michael Pelletier)
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To: Iron Munro
Conn said city officials at first reacted with "a level of disbelief" as they realized their governments could be penalized and "you're going to be held personally liable as well."

That should apply to all areas. I can imagine the panic once these bozos realized that THEY might actually be held responsible for their deeds. The Horror!

21 posted on 09/01/2011 8:52:13 AM PDT by Oatka ("A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves." –Bertrand de Jouvenel)
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To: Iron Munro

“St. Petersburg police Chief Chuck Harmon said, “I think they went overboard. I understand if they want to regulate state gun laws as the Legislature has the authority to do. But what happens to an officer who may misapply an ordinance? That seems like an awful lot of penalties for something that may be unintentional.””

Cry me a river. If law enforcement doesn’t know how to properly apply the laws on the books, they have no business being in law enforcement. We’re not talking about a small mistake here, we are talking about wanton and systematic deprivation of Constitutional rights. They’re lucky I wasn’t put in charge of drafting the law, or they would be spending a long time in prison instead of paying a fine.


22 posted on 09/01/2011 9:08:06 AM PDT by Boogieman
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To: Iron Munro
St. Petersburg police Chief Chuck Harmon said, "I think they went overboard. I understand if they want to regulate state gun laws as the Legislature has the authority to do. But what happens to an officer who may misapply an ordinance? That seems like an awful lot of penalties for something that may be unintentional."

I wonder if he applies the same legal philosophy when it's one of the more important people (private citizens) charged with violating a law.

23 posted on 09/01/2011 9:56:42 AM PDT by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
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To: Alas Babylon!
Cry me a river, Chief. When this happens to a "civillian" your guys arest, you spout, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse." Same same here.

Well, MORESO for them than for the public, for two reasons. First, they're immersed of the legal system and have less excuse for not knowing plus other people's rights are contingent on their knowledge. Second, by being part of the system that has "Ignorance is no excuse" as a policy, they implicitly validate that policy for use against themselves. We, employed at real companies making real things, aren't in the same position logically.

24 posted on 09/01/2011 10:00:48 AM PDT by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
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To: Iron Munro

A big win for freedom in Florida.


25 posted on 09/01/2011 10:44:14 AM PDT by wastedyears (Of course you realize, this means war.)
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To: Justa

Actually, I believe cities and counties SHOULD have the last word in firearms legislation. They should have the authority to prescribe where and when a weapon may be discharged in a non-emergency situation. And that should be ALL the weapons legislation permitted, ever.

Same with drug usage (recreational)... cities and counties should be able to prescribe penalties for ANY form of PUBLIC intoxication. That’s it and that’s all.


26 posted on 09/01/2011 11:06:47 AM PDT by dcwusmc (A FREE People have no sovereign save Almighty GOD!!! III OK We are EVERYWHERE)
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To: mvpel
The law demands certain behavior with respect to guns from our cities and towns, but some of them simply ignore the law because there is no statutory penalty, only a civil cause of action on the part of the victim who has to pay their own way in order to enforce the law.

Adequate statutes exist; all that's necessary is for a state prosecutor's office to start enforcing them.

If state law says that certain municipal ordinances are void, then nobody who can't demonstrate why the state law isn't valid can have any valid reason for believing the municipal ordinances to be valid. Someone who detains another without reasonably believing he is authorized to do so is a robber or a kidnapper (depending upon the length and nature of the detention).

While I recognize that a prosecutor's office is subject to political pressures, is there any legal reason a state prosecutor couldn't invite persons who have been unlawfully detained by cops to file complaints with him. If Citizen Fred complains that Joe Cop detained him, and Joe Cop can't convince a jury that he had a legitimate reason for believing that Fred did something that was actually illegal, then Joe Cop is guilty of robbery or kidnapping (the particulars of the case would determine which).

What's important is to recognize that void statutes are illegitimate, and any attempted enforcement actions would be likewise illegitimate. Further, by definition, illegitimate actions form no part of any government agent's legitimate duties; while government agents carrying out their legitimate duties may legitimately have certain legal protections, such protections cannot be legitimately applied to government agents acting in ways they cannot reasonably believe to be legitimate.

27 posted on 09/03/2011 11:17:22 AM PDT by supercat (Barry Soetoro == Bravo Sierra)
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To: supercat

The problem here is not so much void ordinances, although there’s a bit of that, but the concealed carry licensing system. The law says they must issue or deny within 14 days, for instance, but there’s no penalty if they don’t, only the ability for the applicant to sue them in district court.


28 posted on 09/03/2011 4:44:39 PM PDT by mvpel (Michael Pelletier)
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To: mvpel
The law says they must issue or deny within 14 days, for instance, but there’s no penalty if they don’t, only the ability for the applicant to sue them in district court.

Are you saying municipalities are responsible for issuing licenses? If state has exclusive legal authority over weapons matters, such a policy would seem odd. Nonetheless, if the issue is that municipalities have the manpower to do the background checks and the state doesn't, a remedy would be to provide that applications get sent to the state which logs them and forwards them to the municipalities, which are required to notify the state of the result. Someone who is neither accepted nor denied within 14 days could inquire with the state the status of their application. Someone whose license hasn't been denied within 14 days would be deemed to have been granted one, at least until such time as the person is served notice of denial.

29 posted on 09/04/2011 7:52:13 PM PDT by supercat (Barry Soetoro == Bravo Sierra)
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