Local,  State

Florida Legislators Take On Firearm Preemption Laws

On Oct. 14, state Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, and state Rep. Dan Daley, D-Coral Springs, partnered to refile a gun violence bill they drafted in 2019. If passed, the bill would provide the power to regulate firearms within local jurisdictions. The legislation would also challenge Florida preemption laws.

Preemption is when a higher level of government eliminates or reduces the authority of a lower level over a given issue, as defined by the Public Health Law Center. Florida’s preemption laws also have a long history of controversy, namely for claims of eliminating the ‘home-rule’ jurisdictions and impeding any gun violence reform at the local level of government. 

These laws began in 1987 when the Joe Carlucci Uniform Firearms Act was ratified and created formal preemption rules. All ordinances and regulations concerning firearms from local governments were null and void, according to the bill itself. Those who violated this law were subject to a fine.

However, in 2011, former state Rep. and current U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz introduced and passed HB 45 that added penalties and a $5,000 fine to any violations of the 1987 law.

Taddeo and Daley’s bill, HB 6049, seeks to repeal the 1987 and 2011 preemption restrictions on a municipality’s ability to regulate firearms. If passed, the bill would hand jurisdiction back to city governments.

Daley expressed the importance of a bill like HB 6049 to communities that regularly see gun violence, but local officials cannot seem to reform because of the repercussions of Florida’s preemption.

“If you have a gun range in Palatka where everyone is pretty sparse, there would be no issue and that’s fine,” Daley said. “But in Fort Lauderdale, a gun range within city limits would affect lots of people and get complaints.”

Daley’s district encompasses part of Coral Springs, which is three miles away from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — the site of the 2018 school shooting that resulted in 17 deaths. Due to the proximity, Daley’s district contains many families from the 2018 tragedy. 

Daley referenced his role as a city commissioner in Coral Springs and hearing the horrific news within minutes of the shooting occurring. As a result, one of his priorities for the Florida House in 2019 was to take action against gun violence at the local level.

“This is one of the most grievous, if not the most grievous preemption law in the country, and it needs to be repealed,” he said. “The current status is if local officials decide to enact reforms to gun sales, they can be removed from office by the governor and punished accordingly.”

Daley expressed that he wanted to introduce gun violence reform once in tenure, but when Taddeo contacted him to co-sponsor legislation that would expand local government’s jurisdiction over gun rights, Daley didn’t hesitate. 

“Senator Taddeo has always been a staunch advocate for home-rule control, I’m glad to be on the same boat,” Daley said. 

However, Daley admits the challenges of getting the bill passed. HB 6049 is a refile of the same bill from the 2018-2020 session, and last time it did not get through committee.

“Believe me, it’s an uphill battle, but we’re going to keep filing this until we can have a fair conversation,” Daley said. 

Since the 2020 election, the legislature is more partisan than ever, with Republicans controlling over 60% of the state House alone. 

“What surprises me most is how some people can’t even have a conversation about it, but something has to change,” Daley said.

Nevertheless, Daley remains optimistic about public support and pressure on hesitant members of the legislature. A 2020 poll by Schoen Cooperman Research found that Florida voters support candidates who support stronger gun safety laws by nearly a 7:1 margin.

Florida itself has seen over 25 mass shootings this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Instances like those can serve as a catalyst for gun reforms to be supported by the majority of the population.

The Supreme Court is also slated to hear a case challenging the 2011 Gaetz amendment of the penalties, which could provide another challenge to Florida’s preemption laws.

Check out other recent articles from Florida Political Review here.

Featured Image: Teens For Gun Reform in the Washington D.C area,, after the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. (Public domain photo by Lorie Shaull)

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