by Lee Williams
Firearms, ammunition and accessories manufactured in Florida and sold in Florida should be immune from federal regulation, bans and confiscation, according to the draft of a bill being promulgated by the Southwest Florida Citizens Alliance, a coalition of grassroots groups and individuals based in Lee and Collier Counties.
"The Second Amendment and Firearms Protection Act takes on the federal government's issue of overreach in two specific areas," says SWFL Citizen's Alliance spokesman Keith Flaugh. "It declares weapons and ammo manufactured in the state as intra-state commerce. Secondly, it's very clearly a states-rights bill. It's very positive legislation and a needed step on many fronts."
The draft bill is patterned after laws already in effect in Kansas and nine other states, which use the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to declare any infringement of a citizen's right to keep and bear arms unconstitutional.
The bill would protect Floridians in the event that an executive order is issued or a federal law is passed that targets specific firearms, ammunition or magazines.
"It's a tool for the (Florida) Attorney General to stop federal overreach if the federal government tries to confiscate or regulate firearms that are manufactured in the state, stamped with 'Made in Florida' and do not leave the state," Flaugh said.
The draft bill makes any such interference a class-three felony.
What the proposed legislation does not do, Flaugh explained, is interfere in any way with controls and background checks required by law.
"This would change nothing at the street level for law enforcement," he said. "It gives people a right to own a firearm without worrying about federal intervention."
According to the SWFL Citizens' Alliance, 10 states have passed similar legislation and 14 more have bills in one of both houses. Rep. Dane Eagle, R-Coral Gables, has agreed to sponsor the bill.
The group hopes to get their bill into the 2014 legislative cycle.
"A number of different politicians are concerned that with all of the brouhaha over the 'Stand your ground' law, this may not be the right time to introduce the bill, but our collective view is that the best defense is a good offense," Flaugh said. "These are really two very different issues. 'Stand your ground' is a law that deals with human behavior. The Second Amendment and Firearms Protection Act is simply a tool for the Attorney General and prosecutors of the state to 'stand down' any federal overreach of the Commerce Clause and the Second Amendment."
The mission of the SWFL Citizens’ Alliance is to "advance the ideals and principles of liberty including, but not limited to, individual rights, free markets and limited government through education, outreach and community involvement."