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Florida Supreme Court skeptical of challenge to gun law

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Posted at 4:25 PM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-09 16:25:15-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida law that bans local governments from restricting gun and ammunitions sales goes too far because it also calls for fines against elected officials who seek to enact such restrictions, a lawyer told the state Supreme Court on Thursday.

But Justices on the conservative court seemed skeptical of the arguments made on behalf of several municipalities and Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

“Our cases are very clear about the superiority of legislative power in this arena,” said Chief Justice Charles Canady. “That's why this whole case is kind of mystifying to me.”

Lawyer Edward Guedes, representing the municipalities, agreed the Legislature has the authority to preempt local laws, but argued that a provision that could lead to fines for elected officials as individuals if they vote to enact gun and ammunition sales restrictions overstepped the Legislature's authority.

“The is a legislative firehose to put out a birthday candle,” Guedes said.

The preemption law was revised in 2011 to include the penalty provisions and later challenged by several local governments who wanted to enact gun safety measures in the wake of the 2018 Parkland high school shooting that left 17 dead.

Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat and a candidate for governor, later joined the local governments in fighting the law.

The case was heard as Democratic lawmakers are calling for a special legislative session on gun safety following recent mass-shootings in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas; and elsewhere.

But that's highly unlikely to happen. The Legislature is dominated by Republicans and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has dismissed the idea.

“With all do respect to these leftists, they just want to come after your Second Amendment rights. Let's just be honest," DeSantis said at a Wednesday news conference. “They view you as a law abiding citizen as the target.”