By Jasmine Floyd, Daily Business Review
A non profit gun lobby looking to strike down Broward’s weapons regulations is one step closer to achieving its goal, after Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled against the county.
And now attorney Michael T. Davis, counsel for plaintiff Florida Carry Inc. hopes for a repeal of the local ordinances, so there’s no further confusion with state mandates.
His client challenged Broward County ordinances that regulate or ban weapons, including guns, at several places, including the airport.
The Broward County ordinances prohibited citizens from carrying weapons at Fort Lauderdale- Hollywood International Airport and North Perry Airport, and also prevented taxi drivers from carrying weapons, according to details in the Fourth DCA ruling. They also deferred to state law, stating that the local rules “shall not be applicable to the extent preempted by Chapter 790” of the Florida Statutes.
But Florida Carry argued that Broward’s gun ordinances violated state law.
The appellate court agreed.
“We find that Broward County may not regulate indirectly what it cannot regulate directly,” Chief Judge Spencer D. Levine wrote for a divided court.
Andrew J. Meyers in Delray Beach of Broward County Attorney’s office, Joseph K. Jarone in Fort Lauderdale and Rocio Blanco Garcia in Miami, formerly assistant county attorney but now with Littler Mendelson, represent Broward County. Meyers declined to comment.
Broward County Code of Ordinances described “weapons” as “any instrument capable of being utilized to coerce, intimidate or injure a person or property.
“Florida Carry has been writing the county letters for years asking to get the issue fixed, and for whatever reason Broward County decided to not consult with Florida Carry,” Davis said. “Broward County didn’t ask for Florida Carry’s opinion for what the ordinance needed to do in order to comply with The Uniform Firearms Act.”
In May 2014, Florida Carry sued Broward, alleging the local ordinances were preempted by Section 790.3.
“It’s a violation of the Uniform Firearms Act,” Davis said.
Meanwhile, Broward County argued that “while all firearms are guns, not all guns are firearms.”
The county argued it had created the ordinance to regulate firearms, which included guns. But Florida Carry filed a cross-motion for summary judgment, arguing that the ordinances included weapons, yet weapons are defined as guns under Broward County Code.
The court granted Florida Carry’s motion.
“Florida Carry was able to get a declaration. It received an order to declare ordinance unlawful,” Davis said.
Fourth DCA Judges Levine and Edward Artau formed the majority, finding that the Broward County’s ordinance does not give clear guidance to those enforcing the rules, nor to the citizens expected to comply. Broward County could have given a brief description of guns, but they chose not to do that, the judges found.
However, Judge Robert Gross disagreed. He believed when Broward County mentioned “weapons” in the ordinance, they were referring to the regulation of stun guns and spear guns, not firearms.