West Orlando neighbors told State supersedes City on gun shop regulations

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The Mayor has called for more police patrols to help ease the minds of Orlando residents who raised concerns at a recent City Commission meeting about the new business opening in their neighborhood in Washington Shores. Click HERE to see a video of a community meeting that was held later in the week, as recorded by 32805 News.

A number of residents spoke at last week’s City Council meeting requesting additional security measures, fearing that criminals would be more likely to act out in their neighborhood after purchasing a gun at the new shop.

City Commissioners agreed to the requests after stating that their hands were tied by the State, which bars municipalities from regulating firearms; as seen in the following statute.

Local governments in Florida are forbidden from regulating firearms. In technical terms, the Florida Legislature has “preempted” cities and counties from adopting laws or policies relating to guns. The preemption is found at section 790.33, Florida Statutes, and provides that the Legislature is “occupying the whole field of regulation of firearms…including the purchase, sale, transfer, taxation, manufacture, ownership, possession, storage, and transportation of [firearms].”

The state’s preemption of firearm regulation is possibly the strictest preemption anywhere in Florida law. Here’s what can happen if a city tries to regulate guns or ammunition:

  1. The ordinance is null and void (s. 790.33(1), F.S.)
  2. Courts are instructed to permanently enjoin local governments from enforcing the ordinance. (s. 790.33(3)(b), F.S.)
  3. If a court determines that the local government knowingly and willfully regulated guns, the court “shall assess a civil fine of up to $5,000 against the elected or appointed local government official…under whose jurisdiction the [preemption] occurred.” (s. 790.33(3)(c), F.S.)
  4. Public funds may not be used to defend any person found to have knowingly and willfully violated the preemption. (s. 790.33(3)(d), F.S.)
  5. Any person knowingly and willingly violating the preemption is subject to termination or being removed from office by the Governor. (s. 790.33(3)(e), F.S.)
  6. Any person or organization “adversely affected” by the local government’s effort to regulate firearms can sue the local government and recover damages of up to $100,000 in addition to attorney’s fees. (s. 790.33(3)(f), F.S.)

This preemption statute also forbids cities from using zoning ordinances to restrict the sale of firearms. There is a limited exemption in the statute that allows cities to zone gun stores, but only to the extent that we treat gun stores like other business uses.

The shop in question, B&H Police Supply (Website) limits sales to pilots, private security, individuals enrolled in law-enforcement schools, active or retired law enforcement or military service members, and fire/rescue staff.

1 COMMENT

  1. “…fearing that criminals would be more likely to act out in their neighborhood after purchasing a gun at the new shop.”

    This is a joke, right? According to the US Department of Justice/Bureau of Justice Statistics report, “Firearm Violence, 1993-2011”, only 7.3% of criminals got their guns from retail stores.

    https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fv9311.pdf

    Think of it this way – odds are VASTLY more likely the clientele will be law-abiding and would likely include law enforcement officers who live nearby.

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