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Would Rick Scott remove Hillsborough commissioners for approving assault weapons ban? It’s under review

By Steve Contorno | National Political Correspondent
Published: March 6, 2018 Updated: March 6, 2018 at 10:59 AM
Florida Governor Rick Scott spoke to the media at the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Department, in Tampa on Wednesday. [MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times]

TAMPA — On Wednesday, Hillsborough County commissioners will decide whether to pursue a local ban on the sale of assault-like weapons.

It could put them in a thorny position with the state, and at risk of losing their jobs.

Under a 2011 Florida law, any local official that knowingly violates a state ban on local gun restrictions could be fined $5,000. That law also gives the governor the power to remove from office anyone who flouts the law.

Would Gov. Rick Scott consider removing Commissioner Les Miller, the Democrat who has proposed banning the sale of these weapons, or his colleagues, if they approve it?

"We would review it," Scott spokeswoman Lauren Schenone said.

The seven-member commission is controlled by Republicans, 5-2, and the board was already advised in 2013 that such a prohibition is barred by state law. That makes it a longshot that anything will pass.

The call for action comes in the wake of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Nicholas Cruz used a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle to kill 17 students and teachers at the school, authorities said.

Lawmakers in Tallahassee rejected even a two-year ban on the sale of assault-style weapons, but are considering arming school staff.

Miller has also proposed extending the wait period for a handgun purchase from three days to five days, which the county can legally do. Additionally, he wants to make it a misdemeanor to threaten a school on social media.

Last week, Miller said he's willing to accept the punishment if it encourages other counties and lawmakers to consider similar bans.

"If I'm fined, I'm fined. If there's an attempt to remove me from office, then there's an attempt to remove me from office," Miller said. "As long as I can look in the mirror and say, 'Les Miller, you did the right thing,' I've satisfied myself."