Tallahassee, Fla. – On December 24, attorneys for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, led by Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried, filed a brief opposing an unconstitutional state law that punishes local government officials who pass local gun safety ordinances. In the brief, Commissioner Fried and FDACS support the argument of the plaintiffs, a coalition of dozens of local officials, cities, and counties across Florida.
The preemption law’s punitive provisions threaten local mayors and commissioners with fines, lawsuits, and removal from office for considering local firearm safety measures; these provisions were found unconstitutional in July, and have been called “severe” and “extreme.” Commissioner Fried had directed Attorney General Moody to remove her agency from the state’s appeal of the case, which Fried had called “not only a waste of taxpayer money and time, but the wrong direction for our state.”
“As I’ve said before, our state shouldn’t be threatening local elected mayors and council members with fines and lawsuits just for doing their jobs,” said Commissioner Fried. “I applauded Judge Dodson’s ruling earlier this year that these extreme punishments are unconstitutional, and I wholeheartedly join the voices of cities, counties, and leaders across our state asking the First District Court of Appeals to uphold that ruling. Florida’s communities deserve to make local gun safety decisions free from fear.”
The brief, which can be downloaded here, reads in part:
“[T]he Penalty Provisions of sections 790.33 and 790.335, Florida Statutes … violate the doctrines of both legislative immunity and government function immunity, as well as the underlying principles of the separation of powers integral to the Florida Constitution.”
Response to the NRA
The National Rifle Association issued a memo to supporters accusing Commissioner Fried of “self-important arrogance” in filing the brief. Commissioner Fried issued the following statement in response:
“I made a promise during my campaign that the NRA would have no influence over me or our department. I stand behind that promise. The out-of-touch NRA simply can’t handle that they’ve lost control, they’ve lost in court, and they’ve lost revenue made at the expense of communities demanding common-sense gun safety. Despite the improved efficiency and accountability we’ve brought to concealed weapons licensing – including up to a 98 percent cut in review times – the NRA can attack me all they want. They can’t stop me from fighting to keep Florida’s families safe from gun violence.”