Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Florida’s attorney general appeals pro-gun control ruling

Ashley Moody filed a notice to appeal a ruling last week that found a 2011 law that threatened local governments and officials with penalties for gun control measures was unconstitutional.
Republican candidate for Attorney General Ashley Moody speaks to news crews after voting at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. [Times files (2018)]
Published Jul. 31
Updated Jul. 31

Florida will appeal a circuit judge’s ruling that struck down a state law threatening tough penalties for local officials and governments that approve gun regulations.

Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a notice late Tuesday that the state will appeal the ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson, who found last week that the 2011 law threatening the penalties was unconstitutional.

Asked for a comment Wednesday, Moody’s office released a copy of the notice of appeal, which puts a hold on Dodson’s ruling. Meanwhile, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat, blasted the decision to appeal.

RELATED STORY: Florida attorney general fights proposed assault weapons ban

Fried called the threatened punishments for passing gun regulations “some of the most extreme anywhere in the nation.”

“Our state shouldn’t threaten local elected mayors and council members with fines, lawsuits, and removal from office,” Fried said in a prepared statement. “We should restore local democracy and allow communities to consider common-sense local measures that reflect their values.”

Fried, whose Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services handles concealed-weapons licensing in the state, added that the appeal “is not only a waste of taxpayer money and time, but the wrong direction for our state.”

The lawsuit was filed in April 2018, after the mass shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people and injured 17 others. The school shooting led to widespread calls for gun-control measures, including calls for cities and counties to act.

Florida since 1987 has had what is known as a “preemption” law that prevents local governments from passing gun regulations that are stricter than state firearms laws. In 2011, lawmakers passed another measure that included a series of steps designed to prevent local governments and officials from violating the 1987 law, including imposing penalties of up to $5,000 against officials and potential removal from office.

The law also allowed individuals and groups that successfully challenged local governments over gun regulations to receive damages up to $100,000 and attorney fees.

During arguments last month before Dodson, Daniel Bell, an attorney for the state, said the law prevented a “potential patchwork regulatory scheme” of gun restrictions across Florida.

In his ruling issued late Friday, Dodson found that the 2011 law was unconstitutional, but he did not strike down the underlying 1987 law.

Moody’s move to appeal Dodson’s ruling to the Tallahassee-based 1st District Court of Appeal was not a surprise. But a group of local officials in recent days had urged Moody and Gov. Ron DeSantis not to appeal.

The law was challenged by more than 30 local governments, mostly South Florida cities, but also including Orlando, Gainesville and Tallahassee, and Miami-Dade, Broward and Leon counties.

Jamie Cole, the lead attorney for the local governments, said Wednesday he expects Dodson’s ruling to be upheld on appeal.

“Judge Dodson’s decision was well-reasoned, well-written and supported by decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, Florida Supreme Court and Florida’s district courts of appeal,” Cole said in a statement.

-- This story was written by Jim Turner

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Florida Governor elect Ron DeSantis, right, thanks Lev Parnas on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 in Orlando at the watch party for DeSantis. DeSantis defeated Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum. CHRIS URSO | TIMES CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    A Tampa Bay Times photograph and a video posted by a Reuters reporter shows Parnas smiling with DeSantis amid the chaos of the watch party.
  2. Andrew Gillum.
    Sharon Lettman-Hicks, one of Andrew Gillum’s closest advisers, helped the Florida Democratic Party register new voters.
  3. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. [DAVID SANTIAGO | Miami Herald]
    Scott’s received contributions from the two associates of Rudy Giuliani who were arrested last week.
  4. Emissions from cars and trucks are a major source of the greenhouse gases fueling climate change. An analysis by the New York Times found that air pollution from those sources has increased in the Tampa Bay area by 55 percent since 1990. [Times (2008)]
    Florida once had emissions inspections, but Jeb Bush ended them in 2000
  5. Trump National Doral resort in Doral. EMILY MICHOT  |  TNS
    Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was listed as a speaker Friday evening, appeared that night at the Republican Party of Miami-Dade County’s Lincoln Day Dinner, a well-attended gala also held at Trump National...
  6. Senator Wilton Simpson, R- Trilby, examines papers as he enter the Florida Capitol, Wednesday, May 1, 2019 during the last week of the sixty day legislative session. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The man once called “the Donald Trump of regional egg farmers" is in line to become leader of Florida’s Senate in 2020
  7. In this image from a telecast by The Florida Channel, Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran speaks to a Gainesville crowd that came to discuss revisions to the state's education standards this past week. “We’re going to end up with the world’s best standards,” Corcoran said. The Florida Channel
    The effort, ordered by Gov. Ron DeSantis, aims to transform the way students learn in public schools. A “listening session” is set for Tampa’s Jefferson High.
  8. The annual assault on Florida’s public records law begins anew today in the Legislature.
    “It’s pretty alarming what they’re doing here,” said a former Florida long-term care ombudsman who now runs an advocacy group for residents.
  9. Protestors gather in Turlington Plaza to practice the chant "No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA" prior to the speech of Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle at the University of Florida on October 10, 2019.  CHRIS DAY  |  Chris Day
    The president’s son was joined by former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, his girlfriend, who serves as an adviser for Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign.
  10. Republicans circle the wagons. Samantha J. Gross | Miami Herald
    Even this week’s revelations in Florida haven’t disrupted the state’s political dynamics. That means Republicans are firmly behind their leaders.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement