JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A new Florida gun law begins October 1 and some cities and counties are worried about the change, citing safety concerns.
The new state statute imposes heavy fines and penalties on local governments that try to enforce local firearms ordinances.
Florida passed a bill in 1987 called the "Joe Carlucci Uniform Firearms Act," which gave the state and federal government final say over any firearms regulations. However, that law went largely unenforced.
Now, a municipality and its elected representatives can each face a fine of $5,000 for violating the state law by not only enforcing a local firearms ordinance, but by simply keeping it on the books.
Jacksonville attorney Eric Friday worked with the gun rights group, Florida Carry, which lobbied for the law update. He believes the change finally gives gun owners the rights they are granted under state law.
"If bad people are going to have guns there anyway," asked Friday. "Why shouldn't the good people be allowed to have them there too?"
State law prohibits people from bringing firearms into courthouses, law enforcement offices and schools. However, city and county government buildings are not protected.
"That's where I'm a little distraught, if you will," said St. Johns County Commission Chair Ken Bryan. "Because the legislature made sure that the capital and the facilities that they are in are excluded from this. You know, they can control who brings firearms and all in the buildings where they are, but at our local level we don't have any control and I that's very disheartening and I don't think it's fair."
In response to the new regulations, St. Johns County Commissioners repealed their firearms ordinances that prohibited people from bringing firearms into county administrative offices. Bryan said county leaders have warned employees to be "aware of their surroundings" as the new law goes into effect.
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