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Palm Beach County Commission sues state over ‘political bullying’ gun law

by Dara Kam | December 6th, 2011

The Palm Beach County Commission has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, the Florida House and the Florida Senate today over a gun law that that went into effect on Oct. 1. Local officials who violate the law could be removed from office and face a $5,000 fine.

The sanctions “are simply a form of political bullying that serves no governmental purpose” and have a “chilling effect,” the lawsuit reads.

The commission’s lawsuit complains that the new law, sponsored by Sen. Joe Negron, is unconstitutional because it violates the separation of powers because it gives the governor the ability to remove local officials from office and strips local officials of immunity from lawsuits.

Under current law, the governor is only allowed to suspend local officials and the Florida Senate has the power to remove them or reinstate them.

“Threatened removal of individual commissioners in a matter that is consistent with the terms of the Florida Constitution is political overreaching and political bullying that serves no legitimate governmental purpose,” Amy Taylor Petrick, an attorney for the county, wrote in the lawsuit filed in the Palm Beach County Circuit Court today.

The lawsuit asks the court to find that the law is unconstitutional, stop the governor from being able to remove local officials from office and order that they can’t be fined for breaking the law.

Negron said the penalties are necessary because city and county commissioners have ignored a law that gives the legislature the discretion to regulate gun laws.

After the law went into effect, municipalities, counties and state agencies were forced to scrap hundreds of measures dealing with firearms and could no longer bar people from being guns into government buildings, including the state Capitol.

“Political disputes should be resolved in the elected government arena rather than in courtrooms. So we’ll see where it goes from here,” said Negron, who had not seen the lawsuit Tuesday evening.

Negron, R-Stuart, said he does not intend to file a bill to repeal the law during the legislative session that begins next month.

“I would consider that just as I have to follow federal law and I have to follow county laws and city laws when I’m in their counties and cities, they should follow the preemption of the state law then nobody has anything to worry about,” Negron, R-Stuart, said.

Spokeswomen for Bondi and House Speaker Dean Cannon said their lawyers are reviewing the lawsuit.

National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer, who pushed the bill, called the lawsuit un-American.

“They’re using taxpayer dollars to try to keep from being punished for violating the law? That’s exactly the American way, is it?” she said.

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5 Responses to “Palm Beach County Commission sues state over ‘political bullying’ gun law”

  1. John Hardin Says:

    Serves no purpose? It serves a critical purpose – it punishes politicians for disobeying the law.

    Of course, politicians always think they should be able to ignore the law whenever it’s inconvenient for them, hence the lawsuit.

  2. Nuff said Says:

    Burt Aronson’s fingerprints are all over this waste of taxpayer dollars. The law would have been unnecaesaary but for people like him. He has such a dislike of the freedom to carry weapons that he consistantly acted to limit State Law and restrict when and where weapons were allowed. He tried to inflict his liberal Northeast attitudes on the County while mollifying his Condo constituency who think only criminals should have guns Just like ” up North in New York” To them, personal freedom is to be feared and restricted by big government whose only role is to increase those on welfare.

  3. Chuck Says:

    As always the Palm Beach has missled the readers. The Florida statute has been on the books since 1987 and the amendment to the statute took effect Oct 1st. Since 1987 the PBC commissioners have willfully violated the statute. This amendment will allow the state to take action against the commissioner or government body that violates the law in the future. I would suggest the the PBC commissioner read the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. I believe this is a waste of taxpayer money. I will also not vote in the future for any commissioner that supports this suit.

  4. Kevin Alderman Says:

    No local government should be permitted to circumvent the Constitution and the rights it grants to all citizens, including our rights to bear arms. All one has to do is listen to the government leaders speak, and watch the so called “law enforcement” take liberties with the law while lying in wait for you to make the slightest mistake so that they can take money from you. Whatever happened to lead by example? If we do not stand up and take our country back, we might as well pack up and move now. Socialism and communism are coming here like a runaway train. I can already hear the clack clack of the tracks.

  5. Karen Says:

    Everyone seems to be ignoring the reason the commissioners are refusing to enforce this horrific law. This law that also says that a person can not be stopped from discharging a gun on their own property, even in city limits.Here in south Florida most neighbors are less than 10 feet away, ask that poor little boy and his family what they think of people being able to fire guns on their own property. Personally I commend the commissioners for standing up for OUR right of safety.

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