Florida’s new permitless carry law has been in effect for less than three weeks, but we’re already starting to see anti-gun activists blame the law for virtually and all violent crime that’s taking place.
In Leon County, home to the state capitol in Tallahassee, one local group is even demanding that officials “revoke” the new law, though they can’t explain how exactly the county is supposed to repeal a law passed at the state level. I guess subtleties like that aren’t really necessary when the real goal is to demagogue in favor of more gun control.
According to the Tallahassee Police Department, 28 people have been injured in shooting incidents so far this year. With the three most recent incidents all happening in the Capitol City in the last month.
Faith leaders and community advocates are worried these numbers will only increase after the permitless carry bill became law July 1st. Now, they’re asking local officials to take a stand.
The Task Force is now calling on the Leon County Legislative Delegation to revoke the permitless carry law that went into effect in Florida on July 1st. This is their latest effort in finding solutions to the gun violence problem in Tallahassee; something they’ve been working on for 15 months now.
“It pains me to read stories of people who have been shot and killed,” said Reverend RB Holmes.
In addition to monthly meetings, they also host prayer vigils at the sites where these shootings happen. However, Chair of the Task Force Reverend RB Holmes said it’s time for them to do more than just talk about the problem.
“We need to tell our legislators that Florida must not be the model that celebrates a culture of killing,” said Holmes. “Can we stop it? If we could save one life.”
Holmes’ “task force” isn’t an official part of the Leon County government, and it’s not the first time the pastor has put together a group meant to push policy proposals. Back in 2014 Holmes put together a “pastors task force” to demand the repeal of “Stand Your Ground” laws, which he claimed were “being used unfairly and unjustly, in reference to poor and minority communities.” More recently Holmes spearheaded the Statewide Coronavirus Vaccination Community Education and Engagement Task Force; another unofficial “task force” meant to increase COVID vaccination rates among “underserved communities and neighborhoods across the state.”
Holmes is pretty good at getting media attention for his “task forces”, but in this case I don’t think he’s going to achieve his goal. In fact, my favorite part of WTXL’s coverage of his demand has to be the reporter’s attempt to find out if it’s even possible for the county to “revoke” a state law.
The new law, signed by Governor Ron DeSantis during the recent special legislative session, allows legal gun owners to carry concealed firearms without a permit or proper training. Holmes believes this will only increase the amount of shootings in Tallahassee and that county officials should take a stand against it.
I asked Senior Program Director for Florida State University’s Center for the Advancement of Human Rights Mark Schlackman if local officials even have the authority to revoke something from the legislation. He said; “generally local governments have very limited if any discretion when a state law is passed.”
That’s a very polite way of saying “Ummm, no they don’t.” Not only does Florida’s firearm preemption law preclude cities or counties from establishing their own gun control regimes that are more restrictive than state law, if officials try to circumvent the law as Holmes is demanding they can be fined up to $5,000. The Florida Supreme Court upheld the preemption law last year in a lawsuit brought by a number of officials, including those in Tallahassee and Leon County.
The city and county were among 33 communities around Florida that signed onto the lawsuit last year in which former Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried was also a plaintiff. The lawsuit contended that penalties in the 2011 law were unconstitutional.
The 5-1 ruling is a victory for state Republican leaders and Second Amendment advocates such as the National Rifle Association.
… The majority upheld a decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal. The case involved three lawsuits that were consolidated in Leon County circuit court. The lawsuits were filed by cities and counties from various parts of the state, such as Tallahassee, Gainesville, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach.
There are at least 5,000 reasons why Holmes shouldn’t count on Leon County to “revoke” the state’s permitless carry law and mandate concealed carry licenses for those who want to lawfully bear arms, but there’s still plenty that the pastor and his task force can do if they want to reduce violence in the community. In fact, when Holmes announced the creation of his organization last year, permitless carry wasn’t even one of the things discussed. Instead, he talked about prayer services in at-risk neighborhoods, incentivizing youth to join the military, police athletic clubs in public housing, partnering “faith leaders” with patrol officers, and adding more mentorship and tutoring programs for at-risk youth. I don’t think Holmes would get much if any pushback from gun owners, county officials, or even Gov. DeSantis himself if he chose to focus on implementing those programs, and he might even find that Second Amendment advocates are willing to volunteer to help out in those areas of concern… at least if he’s willing to stop demonizing law-abiding citizens and our fundamental right to keep and bear arms.