TALLAHASSEE — An appeals court recently handed a victory to the
city of Tallahassee, rejecting a suit filed by a pair of guns-rights
The suit challenged the city over ordinances that conflict with
state law even though those ordinances were rarely enforced, the
Tallahassee Democrat reported.
In its 25-page ruling,
the 1st District Court of Appeal said the ordinances, even though
they are still considered law, are null and void because of the state
law and that the city has not tried to enforce them.
The appeals-court judges affirmed the decision of a Leon County
circuit judge, who rejected the claims of Florida Carry Inc. and The
Second Amendment Foundation Inc. Their lawyers argued
that Tallahassee should have to repeal the laws and be blocked from
The ruling was written by Judge Joseph Lewis was affirmed by
Judges Ross Bilbrey and Thomas Winokur.
The ruling stated,
“While appellants' (the gun-rights groups') frustration with the
city's inaction and the individual appellees' (city officials')
unwillingness to engage in what some might describe as a simple task
of repealing void ordinances is understandable, (state law), as it
currently stands, does not prohibit the re-publication or re-printing
of the void ordinances ... The fact that appellees refused to remove
the ordinances from the city's code does not constitute prohibited
conduct under the statute."
The appeals court also gave
credence to the circuit judge’s dismissal of the gun group’s
"Had this been a situation where
cross-appellants/appellees were penalized through a fine, denied the
use of public funds for their legal defense, or removed from office
by the governor, the counterclaim would certainly need to be
addressed," the appeals court ruled. "However, not only was
there no violation of (state law) that has occurred in this case, but
there were also no penalties imposed. As such, no bona fide, actual,
present, and practical need exists for the declaration sought by
The disputes came up from a
couple of old ordinances.
of them in 1957 stipulated that "No person shall discharge any
firearms except in areas 5 acres or larger zoned for agricultural
uses." The other ordinance went on the books in 1984 and
stipulated that it was illegal to discharge guns in recreational
facilities and parks that were owned by the city.
In 1987, the Legislature embraced a legal concept called state
pre-emption. It approved a law that gave the state the exclusive
power to regulate guns and ammunition, and also nullified any local
ordinances or regulations.
Then in 2011, the state amended the law, which allowed penalties
to be enforced against local officials, who tried to enact firearms
Eventually, the Tallahassee City Commission took up the issue but
the motion was indefinitely tabled, which left those laws intact.
In his blog
on Medium, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum declared victory over
the National Rifle Association.
“Because of this victory, we’ve overcome the law that gun
lobbyists have used to bully locally elected officials. That means
the next time they come after another community with a lawsuit,
precedent will be on our side, and they’ll have to think twice,’’
Florida Carry Inc., meanwhile, is watching
several pieces of legislation that deal with concealed weapons and
self-defense. The Florida Legislature meets later this month.