During the 2017 Florida legislative session, there were numerous Senate and House Bills pertaining to expanding or restricting the availability of guns. As expected, opinions often quite emotional when individuals advocate for or against gun policies. The key for a productive dialog is respecting the right of individuals to express opinions for or against gun bills. It is my opinion that it is possible for legislators to consider introducing gun-related bills that do not infringe on individual rights protected by the Second Amendment, while at the same time enhancing safety in our communities.
The regular 2017 legislative session began in March and lasted 60 days. To give you an idea of some of the gun-related bills that came before the legislature, please see graphic below (not an all-inclusive list). Please note that not all bills that are introduced make it to the floor for a vote. Nevertheless, the list below illustrates the importance of guns with the Florida legislature. It also serves to forecast gun bills for the 2018 regular legislative session, which begins January 9, 2018. The Bills addressed guns in schools and government meetings, background checks, open carry, assault weapons ban, and more.
This second graphic illustrates a sample of "passed" and "failed" gun bills from the 2017 Florida legislative session.
A Gulfport Resolution on Sensible Gun Laws (A Proposal)
I proposed at the October 3, 2017 Gulfport City Council meeting that we consider drafting a resolution on sensible gun policies in the state of Florida, a resolution we could use when contacting legislators as 2018 gun bills are introduced. Gulfport residents can use as well. Below are seven sample bills (as of October 20, 2017) already pre-filed for the 2018 Florida legislative session.
At the October 17, 2017 Gulfport City Council meeting, I shared with council members a section from the "2017 National League of Cities National Municipal Policy and Resolutions (Adopted at the 2016 City Summit Pittsburgh, PA November 19, 2016)." In the section on "Public Safety and Crime Prevention," there's a subsection on "Weapons and Ammunition Control" (pages 166-167) that lays out recommended areas that municipalities may want to consider when developing a resolution on guns.
Using some of the statements on pages 166-167 of the NLC policies and resolutions guide, I provided City Council Members the following statements for potential consideration for a Gulfport resolution on guns (note: if a resolution were to be drafted, it will not contain all the statements below):
Strong support exists for on-going reevaluation of state and federal laws and regulations related to public safety and crime prevention issues.
Support for Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns away from dangerous individual.
The growing illegal use of firearms in cities and towns throughout this nation is the common denominator for most violent deaths.
It is appropriate for federal and state agencies to continue enacting laws imposing enhanced sentences for the use of a firearm in the commission of any federal, state, or local crime.
It is important to continue the federal ban on all manufacture, sale, importation or use of armor-piercing bullets that can penetrate bullet-proof vests except for legitimate use by the military and police officers.
We support the ban and manufacture, sale, importation, or transfer of all automatic and semiautomatic assault type weapons except for legitimate use as authorized by the National Firearms Act and by the military or law enforcement.
Authority should be granted to the appropriate Federal agency to regulate and otherwise oversee the design, safety, and responsible marketing and sales of firearms.
Applying a waiting period of up to 30 days for the purchase or transfer of all guns so that local police agencies may check the criminal and mental health status of purchasers is prudent.
Expand and enhance the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to ensure every states criminal records are easily entered and updated, and to require anyone who is selling or transferring a gun to check appropriate records through and authorized federal firearms licensee to ensure the person acquiring the firearm is not a prohibited person.
Federal licensing of gun dealers should be required.
Legislation should be enacted to prohibit an individual under the age of 21 from purchasing or possessing an assault rifle and or handgun.
Firearm manufacturers must be responsible corporate citizens by: 1) including safety devices with their products and developing new technologies to make guns safer; 2) selling only to authorized dealers and distributors, and allow their authorized distributors to sell only to authorized dealers; 3) allowing no firearm sales at gun shows or similar events unless all background checks are completed; 4) not selling firearms that can readily be converted into fully automatic weapons or that are resistant to fingerprints; 5) not selling large (more than 10 rounds) capacity ammunition clips; 6) maintaining an electronic inventory tracking plan; and 7) forgoing firearms sales to licensed dealers known to be under indictment.
Understanding Florida State Law that Precludes Municipalities From Passing Ordinances Pertaining to Guns
Florida state law [Section 790.33(1)(2)] preempts municipalities (elected officials) from enacting or adopting gun regulations. This is another example of home rule stripped from local government decision-making. Any attempt by a city to adopt a gun ordinance is unlawful and subject to fines, lawsuits, etc. The goods news is that early in 2017 the Florida Attorney General's office issued an opinion that a resolution is a non-regulatory action that "would not infringe on the statute's prohibition against competing unauthorized local or state government regulations...Council would not be subject to penalties." This opinion permits us to only adopt a resolution addressing guns. A copy of the opinion is enclosed below.