In Parkland aftermath, state and local lawmakers looked for ways to implement more firearm regulations

Published: Feb. 14, 2019 at 4:11 PM EST
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By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News

February 14, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — In the days and weeks following the Parkland shooting, lawmakers from the state level down to the local level began evaluating different regulations they could implement for stricter gun control.

In Leon County, the answer was the “gun show loophole” ordinance.

"It was just the straw that broke the camel's back. People say, ‘we’ve got to do something,’” said County Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley, of the mass shooting.

Lindley was the charge behind the local ordinance, which passed in April, six to one.

The ordinance requires a background check for all gun sales happening in public places, like at gun shows or even garage sales. And, it requires a three day waiting period. Although the law is mostly symbolic, the commission felt it was one small way to show its stance on gun control.

"We've had absolutely no push back. People that go to the gun shows are complying,” she said.

Local governments have very little ability to implement regulation regarding gun laws. In fact, the county’s gun show loophole is basically the only ordinance it can enforce because of state preemption. Only the state can make laws regarding firearms.

That’s why cities and counties are pushing for change in court.

“This is an unprecedented thing,” said attorney Jamie Cole.

Cole is representing more than two dozen local governments and dozens of individual elected officials in a lawsuit against the state. The governments contend that the state’s preemption on gun laws, as well as the stiff penalties enforced if the preemption is broken, is unconstitutional. Under current state law, if a local lawmaker signs an ordinance that deals with firearms, the elected official can be personally sued and removed from office.

"It just puts them in a position where they can't even talk to their residents, or even listen to residents at all, about what they want to be done with firearms,” said Cole.

The City of Tallahassee and Leon County have joined that lawsuit.

"We need to be able to determine when it comes to particularly public safety what we want to do as a city,” said former commissioner Gil Ziffer, who signed on both individually and with the city in May. "So, we're still waiting on a resolution on that. It's been some time, so hopefully soon."

The lawsuit is still ongoing.

Cole said there is a deadline next week for both sides of the lawsuit to file a motion for a summary judgement, which is a request for the judge to rule on the case.