The State of Florida is in charge of gun laws there and they don’t want cities and localities infringing on their authority. That’s the argument behind a new law that effectively strikes down all local laws limiting gun ownership. And the law has some teeth. For cities and counties that refuse to back down, there will be fines.
The state has claimed authority to regulate gun ownership since 1987 but cities and counties have routinely bypassed this, enacting restrictions on where weapons can be carried in their communities. Frequently guns are banned in parks and community buildings. Local officials have begun removing signs in these places announcing their restrictions in an effort to comply with the new state directive.
Guns still won’t be allowed in schools and bars. Although they can generally be taken in government buildings, those with city council, school board, or county commission meetings being held are the exception. Private businesses can also still regulate guns on their property.
The new law is a win for gun rights activists who say the localities had no right to restrict the constitutional right to bear arms. NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer says “You’re not going to have every Tom, Dick, and Harry carrying a firearm on their person up and down the streets and into buildings…”. He goes on to point out that less than 1 million Floridians are licensed to carry a concealed weapon.
Opponents see no reason why local government, and especially big cities where gun violence is a problem, shouldn’t be able to restrict weapons, particularly in parks. Last week, for example, four children were shot in a Miami park when a car pulled in and opened fire at a football game.
But gun advocates, no doubt, would argue that a sign in the park wouldn’t stop this particular offender, nor any others like him, to think twice about carrying their gun in a park. And they may be right. If you own a gun for criminal reasons, the new law won’t likely have any bearing on how you choose to use your weapon. Obviously, if you are willing to rob a bank, for instance, you wouldn’t be discouraged by a sign that said “No guns in the bank.”
Regardless of whether a law is mandated by the state or the city, enforcement of gun laws is swift and penalties are severe. Even gun rights advocates are adamant about following gun laws, properly registering and using your firearms. When you are caught on the wrong side of a weapons offense, you could be facing several years behind bars and a conviction to haunt you forever.