The mayor of a major South Florida city has exercised a legal loophole in order to effectively strip his town’s residents of their Second Amendment rights, citing public safety concerns.
Keith James, the current mayor of West Palm Beach, cited current race-related unrest as his reasoning behind declaring a local state of emergency that effectively allows him to not only ban the sale of firearms and ammunition within city limits, but prohibit law-abiding citizens from possessing firearms in public places- even if they have a concealed carry permit.
“[T]here is reason to believe that there exists a clear and present danger of a riot or other general public disorder, widespread disobedience of the law, and substantial injury to persons or to property,” the mayor’s order read.
The state of emergency effectively utilizes the relatively obscure Florida Statute 870.044, which prohibits “The intentional possession in a public place of a firearm by any person, except a duly authorized law enforcement official or person in military service acting in the official performance of her or his duty.”
Combined with Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried’s move to effectively suspend all online concealed carry application permitting processes during the pandemic-related shutdown (which has not officially lifted yet), the action creates a precarious Constitutional situation for not only the City of West Palm Beach but the State of Florida.
One West Palm Beach employee -who agreed to provide information under the condition of anonymity- claimed that the move was largely a political one, as Florida is currently controlled by a largely Republican body, to include Governor Ron DeSantis. Despite state laws overriding local laws by default, it has been presumed that -due to civil unrest and the pandemic- the state will not be able to tackle the issue in a timely manner.
According to The Federalist, Governor DeSantis noted that protests in the state “have remained largely peaceful over the past 24 hours and no significant law enforcement or civilian injuries or deaths have been reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.”
With this in mind, it is unknown why Mayor James issued the emergency order.
Around six million firearms were sold between March and May of this year, with a massive chunk of sales being first-time gun owners.
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