How to Fight the NRA

Florida Historic Capitol (Photo via Flickr Jorge Molina)

I’m being personally sued by the gun lobby.

In 2014, as a Tallahassee City Commissioner, my colleagues and I refused to repeal ordinances that prevent shooting guns in a public park.

Because of our actions that day, and our commitment to the safety of our citizens, my fellow locally elected officials and I are facing fines of $5,000 per vote, damages up to $100,000, and the potential to be removed from our elected jobs by the Governor of Florida. We have also been forced to find our own lawyers to defend us in Court.

Although nobody should be against these types of common sense laws, this lawsuit isn’t about guns. It’s about huge special interests, in this case the National Rifle Association (NRA), spending big money to take away local voices and local control, using tactics called preemption and super-preemption.

It’s also about how these special interests and corporations, after getting their way with state government, are trying to intimidate and bully local communities by filing damaging lawsuits against officials like me. Like your local commissioners. Like your local councilmembers. Like your Mayor. And like you.

It’s wrong, it’s cowardly, and unfortunately, it seems to be getting worse; especially in places with far-right conservative state governments.

But we are fighting back in Florida.
 
 At trial, we have challenged the constitutionality of the laws that are being used to attack our local communities and officials. We have carried that fight to the First District Court of Appeals of Florida, and are set to hear Oral Argument on January 10, 2017.

We have had great support in this effort from state and national partners, and we hope to set a precedent for challenging these “super-preemption” overreaches. Our partners recognize that if these threats are deployed today by the gun lobby, there’s nothing stopping special interests from coming after protections for immigrants, the LGBT community, the environment, and others.

We want to stand up to these bullies everywhere they show up.

That’s why I am officially launching a nonpartisan, grassroots effort to bring together individuals, organizations, and elected officials concerned about the erosion of local rights.

This effort, the Campaign to Defend Local Solutions, will send a message to state lawmakers, and give citizens around the country the tools to push back against special interest groups and large corporations, and maintain their right to put forward local solutions to the issues facing their community.

We will hold events to rise against looming threats on issues like minimum wage and health benefits, the environment, local hiring practices, and water quality.

We will help bring awareness and support to similar fights being undertaken by local officials across the country that are fighting to defend local solutions.

And we will elevate the voices and narratives of these efforts, so that no attempt to bully or intimidate local communities around the country will ever be tolerated. 
 
 I am calling on you to help defend your vote, defend your rights, and to help us #DefendLocal at DefendLocal.com. This is how we fight and win against bullies like the NRA.