Broward County

Broward wants to see how it can regulate firearms and ammunition after Parkland shooting

Josh Levine, 17, a student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, stands at the corner of Westview Drive and University Drive, protesting for tighter gun control on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018.
Josh Levine, 17, a student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, stands at the corner of Westview Drive and University Drive, protesting for tighter gun control on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. adiaz@miamiherald.com

The Broward County Commission on Tuesday wants to explore whether it can regulate firearms and ammunition on the county level after a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland killed 17 people, including 14 students and three faculty members.

Broward Vice Mayor Mark Dogen sponsored the agenda item, which calls for the county attorney to “analyze the limitations on local government regulation of firearms and ammunition for areas of possible action by the Board,’’ according to the agenda of the Tuesday commission meeting.

But enacting gun laws at the local level may not be possible.

In the 1980s, the state of Florida banned cities and counties from imposing their own gun control rules. In 2011, the Republican-led Legislature upped the ante, passing a law that says mayors and council and commission members who try to enforce stricter firearm regulations than the state’s will be fined $5,000. The same law allows the governor to remove an elected official for violating this local ban. Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law.

Late Monday, Weston’s City Commission, in a special meeting, voted to authorize its city attorney to file suit seeking a court judgment that would nullify the provisions in the state law that punish elected officials if they tried to enact their own local gun laws, NBC 6 reported.

The firearms measure is one of several items related to the Parkland school shooting that will be discussed at the regular 10 a.m. Broward County commission meeting.

Also to be discussed:

Creating a task force to review how the shooting was handled by all levels of county government, including the Broward Sheriff’s Office and other county entities.

“This holistic report would bring together all agencies to determine how information could be better shared, and where we need improved coordination among different governmental entities and agencies,” county staff wrote in a description of the agenda item. “Broward County government is responsible for a proper emergency response.”

The task force would include representatives from all county agencies.

Commissioners first discussed creating a comprehensive task force at their Feb. 22 workshop.

“This item is intended to continue our conversation from the February 22nd workshop and direct the next steps for action,” according to the backup information. “It will provide a sense of what the Board wants to see from this task force and report, and provide proper direction to the County Administrator on next steps.”

There already have been several calls for a review of how the Broward Sheriff’s Office handled the shooting after Sheriff Scott Israel announced that the school resource officer failed to go into the building and confront the shooter. On Thursday, Israel said Deputy Scot Peterson resigned after he had been suspended without pay. The same day, Israel also outlined a series of previous interactions with accused shooter Nikolas Cruz, including at least two that warned that Cruz could be a potential school shooter.

Gov. Rick Scott on Sunday called for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to review BSO’s response. The Florida House will also consider conducting a formal review.

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