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Kriseman, St. Petersburg Join Gun Lawsuit Against Gov. Scott

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman joined ten Florida cities in a lawsuit agains Gov. Rick Scott over gun control regulations.
City of St. Petersburg
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

In 2011, signed a law backed by the that essentially stripped cities of their right to enact gun control regulations.

Seven years and a wave of political activism later, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman joins ten Florida cities suing the state in hopes to overturn the legislation.

“I served in the Florida House of Representatives when Governor Scott and legislative leaders decided to overstep their authority and use fear and intimidation as a tactic to preserve the NRA’s agenda,” Kriseman said in a statement. “I am proud to join this suit and look forward to the end of state interference in local government.”

Florida has had a law giving the state exclusive rights to regulate firearms since 1987, but there were no penalties for local governments who didn’t comply.

According to the New York Times, the law was designed to create statewide uniform gun regulations and protect licensed gun owners who travel throughout Florida who may not be familiar with different local laws. 

The 2011 amendment allowed Gov. Scott to enforce a $5,000 fine and removal from office if local officials “knowingly and willfully violate” the law by adopting or enforcing their own gun laws.

The public officials filing this suit call this enforcement a safety hazard.

“It is the job of local government to make sure residents are safe,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told the Miami Herald. “At my own City Hall, someone can walk in with a concealed weapon and there is legally nothing I can do about it. Nothing.”

Kriseman and Gelber are being joined in the lawsuit by Weston, Miramar, Pompano Beach, Lauderhill, Miami Gardens, South Miami, Pinecrest, Cutler Bay and Coral Gables.

Other Tampa Bay area officials are weighing their options.

“I think the NRA owns the Florida Legislature and has stripped local government of any ability to do anything about commonsense gun legislation. It’s wrong,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told WTSP Channel 10. “I do think there are grounds for that suit to move forward. And I am not ruling out at this point joining them.”

Kriseman, who is also considering changing how the city invests its money in companies that sell or make semiautomatic weapons, posted an additional message on Facebook challenging Scott and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

“Filing suit against Rick Scott on National Pet Day makes sense given he, Pam Bondi, and state leaders have been lapdogs for the NRA,” Kriseman said. “City leaders know their communities and should be allowed to govern their cities without state interference.”

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Sam Newlon interning as a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news reporter for spring 2018.