Second Amendment protections received a boost in Florida on Friday after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that further limits the ability of local authorities to regulate firearms.
According to the Florida Sun-Sentinel, the bill strengthens an existing 2011 law that allows plaintiffs to seek up to $100,000 in damages against government entities that restrict guns and imposes fines of up to $5,000 on local officials.
Allows lawsuits against “unwritten” rules
Under the new legislation, which is set to take effect on July 1, lawsuits can be filed for “unwritten” gun rules as well as those that have been formally enacted.
An analysis from the state’s House staff explained that this will include “oral instructions given within a law enforcement agency.”
Under the new legislation, localities will still be liable for damages even if they remove a challenged law or policy after a lawsuit has been filed.
“I brought this forward so that local governments will once and for all stop violating the rights and stop wasting taxpayer money,” said state Rep. Cord Byrd, who sponsored the legislation.
Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani attacked the legislation, saying, “If the state doesn’t want to take any action against the gun lobby, stop prohibiting local governments from doing that.”
DeSantis signed bill targeting rioters
This legislation is just the latest in a series of bills that DeSantis has signed promoting self-defense and public safety. At the end of April, the governor signed a bill granting civil immunity to motorists who drive through illegal street protests.
Other provisions of the legislation impose tougher penalties for rioters, including a prison sentence of up to 10 years for those who destroy or demolish statues and monuments, The New York Post reported.
The bill “strips local governments of civil liability protections if they interfere with law enforcement’s efforts to respond to a violent protest,” according to the Post.
The bill will also make it more difficult for counties and municipalities to defund law enforcement — a key demand of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“If you look at the breadth of this particular piece of legislation, it is the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country,” DeSantis said a press conference to sign the legislation. “There’s just nothing even close.”