Suit, Available Here, Aims to Clear Path for Local Prohibitions on Sale of Large-Capacity Magazines
BROWARD COUNTY, FL. – The Broward County cities of Coral Springs, Coconut Creek and Pembroke Pines today sued the state of Florida and Florida officials as part of their efforts to enact prohibitions on large-capacity magazines, alleging that Florida’s punitive firearms preemption law unconstitutionally and illegally threatens local legislators and municipalities with substantial penalties for enacting ordinances that may later be found to be preempted by Florida state law.
Under the punitive aspect of Florida’s firearms preemption law, if a city passes gun violence prevention legislation that is later found to be preempted, the municipality can be forced to pay up to $100,000 in damages per lawsuit plus unlimited legal fees, and the elected officials who voted to pass the ordinance can be fined up to $5,000 and removed from office if they are found to have acted knowingly and willfully. The lawsuit challenges these punitive provisions as an unconstitutional attempt to silence local officials and their communities, as well as an illegal barrier as the three cities try to prohibit the sale or transfer of most large-capacity magazines.
Everytown for Gun Safety’s Litigation Team and Proskauer Rose LLP are lead counsel in the suit, which also includes as plaintiffs Commissioner Dan Daley of Coral Springs and Mayor Frank Ortis of Pembroke Pines. The complaint can be read here.
Filed in Broward County Circuit Court, the legal challenge includes ten separate claims, including allegations that the punitive provisions violate: (a) legislative immunity, separation of powers and governmental immunity; (b) the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as the constitutional right to due process; and (c) the home rule and other provisions of the Florida Constitution.
The cities have requested expedited review and are seeking a declaratory judgment that the penalties are unconstitutional and illegal, as well as an injunction barring their enforcement.
STATEMENT FROM DAN DALEY, COMMISSIONER, CORAL SPRINGS; PRESIDENT, BROWARD COUNTY LEAGUE OF CITIES:
“Heavy handed state preemption is nothing new to Florida’s local governments, but the punitive provisions of 790.33 are some of the most egregious in the United States. The current law has had a chilling effect on local leaders across this state who, because of the penalties, are hard-pressed to recommend even the most reasonable of gun reform measures in their own communities. The City of Coral Springs, and municipalities across this great state, have had enough and are standing up against this draconian law.”
STATEMENT FROM MAYOR SKIP CAMPBELL, CITY OF CORAL SPRINGS:
“Because our state legislators have shown little respect for the home rule powers of the people and the Constitution, we have had to ask our judicial branch to tell us what is appropriate when dealing with municipal powers.”
STATEMENT FROM MAYOR FRANK C. ORTIS, CITY OF PEMBROKE PINES:
“I am a concealed weapon license holder and also a long-time member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. I am proud to join this lawsuit to try to clear the way for a common-sense ordinance that may help keep our community safe without infringing on anyone’s rights.”
STATEMENT FROM COMMISSIONER AND FORMER MAYOR BECKY TOOLEY, CITY OF COCONUT CREEK:
“I have spoken to the kids at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and to kids here in Coconut Creek. I have never felt so helpless as I did when the kids asked me to protect them and I had to tell them that I would do my best, but I could not guarantee their protection. The City of Coconut Creek is challenging the punitive penalty provisions in the statute because we have to do something and this seems like a good place to start.”
STATEMENT FROM ERIC TIRSCHWELL, DIRECTOR OF LITIGATION AT EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY SUPPORT FUND:
“We believe the penalties this suit is challenging violate the long-standing rule of legislative immunity, the First Amendment and other constitutional and legal protections. Local elected officials should not be threatened with severe penalties for passing public safety measures, and we welcome the opportunity to represent these cities and public servants taking a stand to protect their communities.”
STATEMENT FROM MICHAEL A. CARDOZO, SENIOR PARTNER, PROSKAUER ROSE, LLP:
“The Florida statutes challenged in this litigation violate fundamental principles rooted in the United States and Florida Constitutions and go far beyond standard preemption laws that nullify certain local regulations. By subjecting local elected officials and municipalities to severe penalties for enacting local laws that a court may later find to be illegal, the Florida laws have caused local elected officials and city governments to refrain from—and subjects them to liability for—acting in the best interest of their constituents.”