In June of 2016, Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin famously decided that the city should pass a resolution calling on state and federal officials to ban “assault weapons” and “high-capacity” magazines.
Barwin, a Chicago-area native with extreme anti-gun views, learned a hard lesson back then about regulating firearms in Florida, when his own city attorney, Robert Fournier, told him and the city commissioners the bad news about the state’s powerful preemption statute — that if they even voted on the resolution they could all be looking for work.
“I wouldn’t recommend that you take action,” Fournier said at the time of Barwin’s resolution.
Fournier knew the preemption statute only allows the state legislature to regulate firearms.
Any public official who violates preemption can face up to a $5,000 fine and removal from office. State law even specifies that public officials must pay the fines personally, with their own money. No public funds can be used to pay for their misdeeds.
And Fournier knew that merely voting on a resolution to ask for an “assault weapon” ban was enough to violate the preemption statute.
Now, some members of the School Board of Sarasota County want to regulate firearms too, but their resolution calls for much more than an “assault weapon” or “high-capacity” magazine ban.
In fact, banning modern sporting rifles and standard-capacity magazines is just the start of what certain school board members have in mind.
According to an internal school board document, the members are calling on Congress to ban the “manufacture, sale, possession and use of assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition cartridges” — whatever those are — “except those needed by the military and law enforcement.”
They also want Congress to “require and strengthen” universal background checks, and they’re calling on the President to charge “all agencies of the federal government with the task of reducing the number of gun-related deaths in America.”
But wait, there’s more.
The members reject the law that now allows Florida schools to arm teachers, and they want Congress to extend the perimeter of gun-free school zones, although they don’t say how far.
They also want Congress to require every state as well as the federal government to “collect whatever data is necessary to track, monitor, understand and prevent the extent of gun-violence in America.”
The School Board is scheduled to discuss the resolution at their workshop Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Marion Hammer is a past-president and current board member of the National Rifle Association, and she also serves as executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida — the state’s NRA affiliate.
“You can be sure that pro-gun organizations will be monitoring the actions of elected public officials who seek illegal actions that do nothing to solve the problem of violence in America,” Hammer told me Friday night. “If they really want to stop violence in America, why don’t they support legislation that deals with people who commit violence rather than inanimate objects. One would expect more of educators than politically motivated actions based on ignorance.”