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Florida Judges Will Soon Weight Whether State Of Florida’s Restrictions On Localities With Respect To Gun Laws Violates Their Rights

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Florida circuit judges will soon hear arguments concerning the constitutionality of state law that imposes significant penalties on local officials when it comes to gun regulations. The case is based on Florida’s laws that bar localities from passing regulations that are stricter than what the legislature passes in terms of state fire laws.

The penalties involved in the case are significant, and could result in local officials being removed from office and having to pay fines of up to $5,000, while also allowing the public and various organizations to receive damages in the amount of approximately $100,000. Now, these localities have filed a case challenging the constitutionality of the laws and restrictions, arguing that they violate a number of constitutional issues, including free-speech, separation of powers, vagueness, and preemption.

Argument Brought by Localities

More than 70 local officials, 30 municipalities, and three counties are participating in the case. They claim that they are being urged by constituents to proceed with important procedures– such as regulating background checks and gun purchase waiting periods–but they are essentially immobilized due to the chilling effect of the state’s preemption laws and penalties. The case has drawn supplemental briefs from organizations such as the National Rifle Association, which argues that local governments do not have legal ability to defy the state’s requirements.

Precedent

These localities may very well have a good chance that the courts may agree with them, as a federal appeals court already struck down a state law that barred doctors from discussing gun policies and firearm ownership details with their patients. According to the 10-1 decision out of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the “Privacy of Firearms Owners Act” blatantly violated doctors’ First Amendment rights by threatening to take away their medical licenses and fine them up to $10,000 just for asking parents about the presence of firearms in the home.

The ruling was based on the finding that doctors were not infringing upon the Second Amendment rights of their patients by engaging in these discussions and inquiries; all while the court pointed out that Florida does not have a “carte blanche” to restrict speech without first meeting the heightened scrutiny standard/test. As a result, the court blocked the law from ever taking effect after it was passed by the legislature. The National Rifle Association also filed a supplemental brief in that case.

Contact Our Florida Civil Rights Attorneys with Any Questions

If you have questions about the constitutionality of a particular law or have concerns that your civil rights have been violated here in Florida, contact our experienced Orlando civil rights attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out how we can help.

Resources:

fox35orlando.com/news/local-news/florida-judge-weighs-fight-over-local-gun-restrictions

npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/17/515764335/court-strikes-down-florida-law-barring-doctors-from-discussing-guns-with-patient

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