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NRA, local governments square off on gun law

December 9, 2019

Panama City News-Herald,

Jim Saunders,

December 5, 2019-

The National Rifle Association and local government groups are trying to help sway an appeals court in a battle about a controversial state gun law. The NRA this week filed a proposed friend-of-the-court brief urging the 1st District Court of Appeal to uphold the 2011 law, which has threatened tough penalties if city and county officials approve gun regulations. The NRA filing came a week after the Florida League of Cities and the Florida Association of Counties sought permission to file a brief in opposition to the law.

Florida since 1987 has barred cities and counties from passing regulations that are stricter than state firearms laws, and the penalties in the 2011 law were designed to strengthen that “preemption.” The law, for example, could lead to local officials facing $5,000 fines and potential removal from office for passing gun regulations. A Leon County circuit judge this year ruled that parts of the law were unconstitutional, spurring lawyers for Attorney General Ashley Moody and Gov. Ron DeSantis to appeal. Backing the state’s efforts, NRA attorneys wrote in the filing this week that the Legislature decided to preempt firearm regulation in 1987 “to ensure the exercise of the fundamental Second Amendment right is not infringed by local government.”

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