URGENT ** ROUND 1 ** STOP local governments from violating state law
DATE: February 4, 2011
TO: USF & NRA Members and Friends
FROM: Marion P. Hammer
USF Executive Director
NRA Past President
SB-402 by Sen. Joe Negron (R) has been scheduled to be heard in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 8:00am
SB-402 simply provide penalties for government officials, local governments and agencies that willfully and knowingly violate the state firearms preemption law. State law prohibits local governments and government agencies from adopting any gun control ordinance or regulations. They are arrogantly violating the law because there are no penalties currently in the law.
SB-402 is a bill to STOP public officials and local governments from violating state law by providing penalties for willful violations.
You must act quickly. URGENT! These Committees Must Hear From You
PLEASE IMMEDIATELY EMAIL Members of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee
In the subject line put:
SUPPORT SB-402 -- Stop local governments from violating state law.
(Block and Copy All email addresses into the "Send To" box)
In 1987 the Florida Legislature passed the Firearms Preemption law (f.s.790.33) to provide uniformity of gun laws -- in fact, it is called the "Joe Carlucci Uniform Firearms Act."
It was intended to stop local governments from making criminals out of law-abiding citizens simply because they crossed a city or county line. It was intended to provide uniform gun laws so that no matter where in the state you live and no matter where in the state you travel, the same gun laws apply.
Unfortunately, the law contains no penalties because no one ever imagined that local elected officials and government workers would willfully and knowingly violate state law.
The absence of penalties has lead to many intentional violations and has resulted in subsequent lawsuits to protect the rights of citizens.
Over and over again, NRA attorneys have written letters to local governments informing them that proposed ordinances violate state law. Unfortunately, when their lawyers confirm that the ordinance would be illegal, they usually also explain that there are no penalties for violating the law -- consequently, some jurisdictions have arrogantly thumbed their noses at state law and have passed illegal ordinances anyhow.
In 2000, the City of South Miami was one of the cities that NRA lawyers wrote concerning a proposed ordinance that violated state law.
The City's external counsel confirmed that it was a violation, but also noted that there were no penalties. We were informed that Commissioners were told that without penalties, they could do what they wanted to do. Further, that an illegal ordinance would stand until the City was sued and a court declared the ordinance void.
The rights of gun owners were being violated, so NRA sued.
NRA won the lawsuit and, in fact, the appellate court even noted in it's opinion that the court had previously ruled that local ordinances violate state law.
The court refused to give NRA attorney's fees. But nobody said the City couldn't use tax dollars to pay their own expenses and pay outside counsel to defend their illegal actions. That is egregious.
So, not only did they violate the rights of residents but then they used their tax dollars to pay the legal fees of those who intentionally did it.
It is not the NRA's responsibility to enforce state law, but nobody else will do it because there are no specified penalties.
A local attorney is currently suing Lee County for violating the state preemption law.
In the Lee County case, not only did Rep. Paige Kreegel tell them their ordinance was illegal, but Attorney General Bill McCollum also told them.
This has to stop.
This bill provides penalties for local officials and local governments that willfully and knowingly violate the preemption law. Penalties are severe to deter further violations.
It is clear that some jurisdictions are predisposed to violating the law in the absence of severe penalties. That's why the bill provides felony penalties for those who willfully and knowingly participate in the violation and up to a $5 million dollar fine for the offending entity.
Sound extreme? In 2004 the legislature passed legislation prohibiting any form of gun registration or the compiling of any lists of gun owners or guns. The penalties are identical to those in this bill, that's why they're in this one.
Gun registration schemes, lists and data bases that violated the law suddenly were destroyed. To our knowledge, there have been no intentional violations since that law passed. There have been no prosecutions under that law. It has been the ultimate deterrent. Anyone, who has unintentionally violated the law has immediately taken action to come into compliance when notified.
This is not about putting people in jail or imposing big fines -- unless absolutely necessary. We just want public officials, elected and otherwise, to quit violating the law and stop trampling the rights of Florida gun owners.
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