ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Suing the Governor! St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman announced on Wednesday he is joining 10 other Florida cities and mayors in the lawsuit filed again Governor Rick Scott seeking the power to regulate firearms locally.
Currently, mayors and other local leaders who pass firearm regulations that are later found to be preempted can be forced to pay penalties, including a $5,000 fine, and removed from office.
The lawsuit Kriseman is joining is Weston v. Scott, and argues that the current law oversteps restrictions on a governor's limited ability to remove a local elected official from office.
The suit also claims the current law infringes on the free speech rights of elected officials and interferes with their ability to perform their official duties without fear of legal penalties.
Kriseman explained that city leaders need to have the ability to create laws that are right for their local areas. “We would absolutely like to take a look at banning military style weapons, high capacity magazines, adding more stringent background checks. All of which would be lovely except I can’t do any of it," he explained.
Kriseman calls the law unconstitutional.
“You have to stand up for what you think is right," he said with conviction.
Danny Carelli, the owner of Money Tree Pawn and Gun in St. Pete is doubtful that the suit will do much.
“I just don’t see it working or this lawsuit going anywhere," Carelli explained, adding that it’s a slippery slope and could harm their business down the line. "Look at Chicago. They have among the strictest gun laws in the nation and yet, their murder rate is high. I believe with a lot of these shootings that have happened, if the current laws were enforced they wouldn’t have occurred. I don’t think creating new laws will stop the problem.”
Tyler Bodnar, of Gun Trader Den in St. Pete agrees. “Military style weapons definitely can be something that’s an agreeable topic for everybody especially within the last few months. Other than that, If we are going to take a slippery slope then the mayor and other leaders need to speak with the community before taking these steps.”
It comes at the same time gun shops are making other changes now required by the state like banning bump stocks, requiring gun buyers to be at least 21 years old and a new 3 day waiting period for gun purchases.
Kriseman says he supports the second amendment but wants the flexibility to choose what's right for St. Petersburg. He also says now is the time to act after the Parkland shooting and city and county leaders should be able to decide what’s best for their town. “It's ironic. State leaders always say 'we know better than Washington what’s good for our state,' but they don’t seem to have any problem telling us what to do as if they know better what’s good for our cities and counties than we do.”
Kriseman says he is also checking to see if the city council as a whole will join as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is looking into potentially joining this lawsuit as well.
"I served in the Florida House of Representatives when Governor Scott and legislative leaders decided to overstep their authority and use fear and intimidation as a tactic to preserve the NRA's agenda. I am proud to join this suit and look forward to the end of state interference in local government," Kriseman said.
Other cities in the suit include: Weston, Miramar, Pompano Beach, Lauderhill, Miami Gardens, South Miami, Pinecrest, Cutler Bay, Miami Beach and Coral Gables.