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Court overturns city's gun-lock law

An appeals court threw out a South Miami ordinance requiring the use of trigger locks Wednesday, citing a state law putting gun control laws in the hands of the state Legislature.

The ordinance adopted in 2000 was supported by the state Attorney General's Office but was challenged by the National Rifle Association.

"The opinion is very strong," said Marion Hammer, former NRA president and a Florida-based lobbyist for the group. "There was really no other way they could rule because the statutes are abundantly clear."

South Miami Mayor Julio Robaina said, "This just proves the power of politics over the right to protect innocent people." He hopes to appeal.

Attorney General Bob Butterworth said through a spokesman that he was disappointed with the decision. His office had concluded local trigger lock measures were valid because they didn't interfere with the right to bear arms.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled that the ordinance was in direct conflict with a state law enacted in 2000 pre-empting local gun control measures.

The law said it was intended to provide uniform state firearms laws and reserved "the whole field of regulation" for the Legislature and federal authorities.

Attorney Parker Thomson, who argued for the Attorney General's Office, said the court made it clear that "it is not going to permit any local government to speak."

NRA attorney Stephen Halbrook called the decision "a lesson to the other jurisdictions" that trigger lock ordinances are invalid.

A proposed state trigger lock law has failed before, and its Democratic sponsors said they expected it to fail again this year in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

A separate state law requires gun owners to lock up their firearms or otherwise secure them if they know children are likely to find them. Adults can be prosecuted for allowing children to get their hands on guns.

"I will not let it rest here. This is about saving lives. This is not about organized politics having their way," Robaina said. "I'm an NRA member, but I also want to use a little bit of common sense and close the gap on something that's a growing problem."

Halbrook called trigger locks "the dumbest thing" because of the potential for accidental discharge while installing the lock.

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