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Appeals Court Agrees To Speed Up Gun Case

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The 1st District Court of Appeal agreed Wednesday to speed up consideration of a high-profile battle over a state law that has threatened tough penalties for local officials and governments that approve gun regulations.

A Leon County circuit judge last month struck down the law, leading the state to go to the Tallahassee-based appeals court. Both sides filed a joint motion last week asking the appeals court for “expedited” proceedings.

“The parties agreed to expedite proceedings in the lower tribunal (circuit court) and further agree that the issues on appeal are purely legal,” last week’s joint motion said. “Expedited consideration is in the public interest, as the (appeals) court is in a position to provide much-needed clarification on matters of statewide concern.”

The appeals court Wednesday approved the motion and a series of deadlines for filing documents and briefs.

Florida since 1987 has had what is known as a “preemption” law that prevents local governments from passing gun regulations that are stricter than state firearms laws. In 2011, lawmakers passed another measure that included a series of steps designed to prevent local governments and officials from violating the 1987 law, including imposing penalties of up to $5,000 against officials and potential removal from office.

After the mass shooting last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, three counties, 30 cities and more than 70 local elected officials challenged the constitutionality of the 2011 law. Circuit Judge Charles Dodson on July 26 struck down the 2011 law, though he kept in place the 1987 preemption law.