Florida has more concealed carry licensees than any other state. Millions of Floridians carry a defensive pistol to protect themselves.
Florida Carry, Inc.a nonprofit watchdog that represents thousands of concealed carry licensees and gun owners, occasionally has to remind local governments that state preemption statutes prohibit them from enacting their own local firearms laws. Otherwise local lawmakers could create a “patchwork” of gun-free zones that would make travel difficult if not impossible for anyone who was armed.
The Hillsborough County Commission recently tasked County Attorney Chip Fletcher to explore ways that the county could enact its own ordinances to ban certain types of firearms and ammunition.
This is dangerous ground for a local government and the elected officials involved. Each commissioner could face a $5,000 civil fine. If Florida Carry or another group files a lawsuit, the commission could be forced to pay attorney fees and damages up to $100,000.
Sean Caranna, Florida Carry’s founder and executive directer, sent a stern warning to Fletcher about the consequences of going forward with the commission’s instructions.
Here’s a copy of the email:
Today I was made aware of the action by the County Commission, adopted at Commissioner Les Miller’s urging, requiring that you research the enactment of various gun and ammunition ban ordinances.
I am sure that you are aware that in 2011 House Bill 45 was engrossed under Chapter 2011-109, Laws of Florida and became effective on October 1, 2011. This law strengthened and made enforceable the long ignored 1987 law (790.33 F.S) that prohibits local governments and agencies from enacting, promulgating and/or enforcing ordinances or other regulatory measures that affect firearms and ammunition, and authorizes considerable penalties for violations. See National Rifle Assn. v. City of South Miami, 812 So. 2d 504 (Fla. 3d DCA 2002). I would also generally call your attention to Rinzler v. Carson, 262 So. 2d 661 (Fla. 1972).
I would like to stress that our attorneys are willing to provide you with any additional information you may need in order to accurately advise the commission on Florida and National firearm laws.
Rest assured that Florida Carry, Inc. will continue to defend Florida gun owners against the enactment, promulgation or enforcement of any ordinance, rule, policy or administrative action that we find to be in violation of s. 790.33 Florida Statutes. We assume that the county commissioners will be made aware of the liability that the county, the individual commissioners and various county officials will face for violations of State firearms law.
As a Florida registered non-profit organization representing the interests of defensive weapons and firearms owners who lawfully carry throughout the state, Florida Carry has statutory standing to initiate legal action on behalf of our membership and the public with regard to this issue should we deem it necessary to insure compliance with state law. Millions of Floridians lawfully carry and possess defensive firearms and weapons every day to protect themselves and their families. We would see to it that they not face a patchwork of regulations that is impossible for them to keep up with as they traverse our great state.
Any action by the county commission to restrict the use or possession of firearms or ammunition that is inconsistent with state law and our constitution will be interpreted as willful intent to circumvent the law. In such a case we will be forced to immediately pursue the matter in court.
Florida Carry, Inc.