One of the most important issues facing this country today is gun violence and how to prevent it. Lawyers can play a vital role in advising legislators who want to enact meaningful gun regulations, and by using their skills to try to prevent the adoption of laws designed to block meaningful gun regulations. Last month, a Proskauer team achieved a victory with nationwide implications by persuading a Florida state trial court to strike down a Florida gun law as unconstitutional.
The Florida law preempted “the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition,” meaning municipalities and counties could not pass gun regulations. Unfortunately, such a preemption provision is not unusual, but in 2011, the Florida legislature took it a step further by adding substantial penalties for violating the preemption. Under the law, if a municipality enacts a gun law later found preempted, it is subject to a private damages lawsuit with liability up to $100,000, plus uncapped attorneys’ fees, and the legislators who voted for the preempted law are subject to a $5,000 fine and removal from office by the governor.