The MasterBlog: Florida Forces Cities to Pull Local Laws Restricting Guns - NYTimes.com
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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Florida Forces Cities to Pull Local Laws Restricting Guns - NYTimes.com

I love Florida :-)



MIAMI — The signs — "No Guns Allowed" — are being stripped from many Florida parks, government buildings, libraries and airports. And local ordinances that bar people from shooting weapons in their yards, firing up into the air (think New Year's Eve) or taking a gun into an airport are coming off the books.

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 barred from creating and enforcing their own gun ordinances. Few cities and counties paid attention, though, believing that gun laws in places like Miami might need to be more restrictive than the state laws applicable in rural Apalachicola, for example.

But this year the State Legislature passed a new law that forces counties and municipalities to do away with, and stop enforcing, their own firearms and ammunition ordinances by Oct. 1. Mayors, 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 ban 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 fire their guns into the air to celebrate. And in Lake County, firearms will soon be allowed in libraries.

"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."

State lawmakers who supported the bill, which was backed by the National Rifle Association, said local governments were overreacting, particularly since the original law that pre-empted local gun ordinances was passed in 1987.

"The notion that a city ordinance stops violence is patently absurd," said State Representative Matt Gaetz, the Fort Walton Beach Republican who sponsored the bill. "People lawfully carrying weapons with permits are rarely part of the problem."

The law aims 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.




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