News Sunshine State

Assault weapons ban fails in Fort Lauderdale

Written by Richard Hack

FORT LAUDERDALE—Vice mayor Dean Trantalis thought he had found an innovative way to keep assault weapons off the streets of Fort Lauderdale. In the city commission meeting on June 21, we suggested banning assault weapons such as AR-15 and AK-47 rifles from sale at gun shows as part of the terms of the lease for renting the city-owned War Memorial where the gun shows take place.

Even before the city commission had an opportunity to vote on the measure, the National Rifle Association fired off a warning shot in the form of a letter from litigation counsel Christopher Conte, which said the concept violated state law.

As Conte reminded the commissioners, passing such a law would personally make them responsible for damages and the likelihood of losing their jobs for breaking state law.

“We hope the city commission keeps this in mind when considering these matters in the future,” Conte wrote.

City Attorney Cynthis Everett agrees. In a memorandum issued by her office, she referenced a University of North Florida rule that suggested that firearms could not be stored in cars on campus. That law was later overturned in court.

The memorandum said the action Trantalis proposes “would constitute a rule or regulation of the municipal body, and is therefore prohibited by Florida law.”

“Clearly, the approach I thought we could take, may not be possible,” Trantalis told the Sun Sentinel newspaper.

The Fort Lauderdale Florida Gun Show operates eight shows a year at the War Memorial in Holiday Park.