TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court will consider a challenge to a 2011 gun law recently expanded by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a decision that could prompt a ruling on the politically contentious issue of Second Amendment rights in the middle of the 2022 midterms.
Politics and gun policy have long been intertwined in Florida, a state where the NRA has held huge political sway over the GOP majorities that pass pro-gun bills over Democrats, who have relied on courts to stop what they could not. The latest chapter in that fight features Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat running for governor, using her office to successfully urge the Florida Supreme Court to get involved in a legal challenge to a gun law, which was signed by then-Gov. Rick Scott, but remains popular with DeSantis and Florida Republicans.
Gun regulation has largely been preempted to the state since 1987, which means local governments could not pass gun laws more restrictive than those passed by the state Legislature. That law was strengthened in 2011 when the GOP-dominated Florida Legislature added a fine of up to $100,000 for local governments and up to $5,000 for local elected officials who violated the preemption.
The penalty portion of the law was the focus of a legal challenge filed by a handful of local governments after the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting that left 17 dead. A trial court sided with the local governments and scrapped the penalty language, a decision that was overturned on appeal. The conflicting rulings led Fried in July to ask the Florida Supreme Court to take up the case..