Florida passed a law fining local municipalities for enforcing their own firearm laws:
The state has spoken, again, on the matter of guns, and this time it does not want to be ignored: since 1987, local governments in Florida have been banned from creating and enforcing their own gun ordinances. Few cities and counties paid attention, though, believing that places like Miami might need to be more restrictive than others, like rural Apalachicola, for example.
But this year the Legislature passed a new law that imposes fines on counties and municipalities that do not do away with and stop enforcing their own firearms and ammunition ordinances by Oct. 1. Mayors and council and commission members will risk a $5,000 fine and removal from office if they “knowingly and willfully violate” the law. Towns that enforce their ordinances risk a $100,000 fine.
To comply with the law, cities and counties are poring over their gun ordinances, repealing laws and removing gun-related signs. In Palm Beach County, that means removing ordinances that bar people from taking guns into county government buildings and local parks and from firing guns in some of its most urban areas. In Groveland, that means they can now fire their guns into the air to celebrate. And in Lake County, firearms will soon be allowed in libraries.
Should a Floridian’s gun rights vary in urban and rural areas? Should the right to keep and bear arms have a geography clause?
“Now you can have a shooting gallery in your backyard,” said Shelley Vana, a Palm Beach County commissioner. “We are really urban areas here. I come from a rural area in Pennsylvania. I understand that guns are appropriate in a lot of places with no problems. But in an urban area, it’s different.”
Really, the problem with these laws is that a Floridian travelling from point A to point B might get ensnared with some local, unpublicized ordinance.
The law seeks to protect licensed gun owners who travel from county to county and may not be familiar with the patchwork of rules that dictate where they can carry and shoot a gun.
Florida gun laws are broader than local ordinances. They restrict guns, for example, at legislative and city council meetings but not inside the buildings themselves. They permit target shooting under “safe” conditions and in “safe” places, and they make it illegal to display a firearm in a rude or threatening manner, unless it is in self-defense. Floridians also cannot knowingly fire a gun in a public place, in an occupied building or on a paved street. But those who support stronger laws said words like “knowingly” and “safe” often make enforcement difficult.