Hastings and Florida Democrats Send Letter Opposing Florida’s Firearm Preemption Law

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Washington, D.C., May 9, 2018 | comments

Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) sent the following letter to Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Florida Senate President Joe Negron, advising them to prioritize the repeal of the firearm preemption law that limits the ability of localities to implement sensible gun control measures.
 
Joining Hastings’ as co-signers of the letter include: Senator Bill Nelson, Reps. Val Demings, Charlie Crist, Lois Frankel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Stephanie Murphy, Al Lawson, Darren Soto, Kathy Castor, Frederica Wilson, and Ted Deutch. (Please find below and attached a copy of the letter): 

May 9, 2018

The Honorable Speaker Richard Corcoran
Florida House of Representatives
420 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399 

The Honorable Senate President Joe Negron
Florida Senate
Suite 409 Capitol
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL  32399

Dear Speaker Corcoran and Senate President Negron:

We write in the wake of the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a 19-year-old used a semiautomatic AR-15 to methodically murder 14 of his former classmates and three teachers. Once again, the citizens of Florida were forced to try to make sense of the senseless. In the wake of this horrific tragedy, countless Floridians have been demanding reforms to gun policy at the local level, but Florida’s laws make that impossible. As you know, Florida Statute § 790.33 reserves for the state the exclusive right to regulate firearms. This law not only prevents localities from enacting any kind of firearm measure, but also subjects a violating locality or local official to a civil fine – a provision that we believe may be unconstitutional given that legislators are immune from civil liability for legislative activities. It is our opinion that you prioritize the repeal of this law and allow local officials to enact reasonable firearm measures that best reflects the views of their constituents.

Florida has a population of over 20 million people, with a diverse geography ranging from rural pockets to expanding suburbs to overflowing cities. Laws that work for Franklin County may not necessarily work for Broward County. In passing this firearm preemption law, the Florida State Legislature has instituted a one-size-fits-all approach that completely cuts out local officials from enacting gun policies that best serve their communities.

The principle of home rule is based on the concept that the closer the government is to the people, the more responsive it will be. Instead of letting the cities and counties work, you have shifted local government responsibility to the State. Students advocating for gun violence prevention reforms should not have to take a seven-hour bus ride to Tallahassee to demand change. They should be able to push for change in their local city hall or at their county commissioners meeting.

All Floridians have a right to make their communities safe from the onslaught of gun violence they witness month after month. They have a right to implement laws that prohibit individuals with a history of mental illness from buying a gun. They have a right to implement laws that would rid their streets of military-grade firearms. They have a right to implement laws that would ban high-capacity magazines. And they have a right to pass these and any other laws they deem necessary to address gun violence in their communities, without interference from Tallahassee.

In just the past two years, Florida has suffered two of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history. It is our opinion that the Florida State Legislature is long overdue to prioritize the repeal of the firearm preemption law that limits the ability of localities to implement sensible gun measures. Local officials should not be personally penalized for enacting reasonable firearm measures that best reflect the views of their constituents.

Sincerely,

Alcee L. Hastings
Member of Congress

Bill Nelson
U.S. Senator

Val Demings
Member of Congress

Charlie Crist
Member of Congress

Lois Frankel
Member of Congress

Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Member of Congress

Stephanie Murphy
Member of Congress

Al Lawson
Member of Congress

Darren Soto
Member of Congress

Kathy Castor
Member of Congress

Frederica Wilson
Member of Congress

Ted Deutch
Member of Congress

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings represents Florida’s 20th district, and serves as a Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida delegation.

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