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Bill would ban local agencies from aiding in federal gun law enforcement
A new bill in Florida would ban local law enforcement agencies from working with federal agents in enforcing federal gun laws. Supporters say it would not stop federal agents from doing anything. It would just limit the activities of state agencies, and they say it's a state's rights issue. Meanwhile, not all gun rights supporters are for it.The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other federal agencies have a long history of working with local law enforcement, but if State Representative Dane Eagle, of Cape Coral, gets his way, that relationship could see some big changes.
Eagle's bill would prohibit any state agency from cooperating with the enforcement of federal gun laws.
"The bill is going to reduce the authority that local law enforcement managers have," said Frank Dufon, a retired FBI agent and instructor at UWF.
Dufon says most gun law violations the feds investigate are done in conjunction with other crimes, and that the bill could potentially cause big problems for law enforcement officers.
"How do you separate the investigation of one crime that has a gun involved in it that may be a federal violation?" Dufon asked, "It's difficult to separate the two."
Representative Eagle and some gun rights supporters say the bill rests on a well-established legal principle that the feds can't force states to help implement federal laws.
"We're not going to help the feds take away Second Amendment rights," said Ken Stanley, a gun owner, "The federal government is supposed to get its rights from the people and through the states."
"This country has so many layers of law enforcement, it's ridiculous," said guns rights supporter Dan Hegarty, "It's contrary to the Constitution and freedom."
A final decision on the bill is expected to be made during Florida's next legislative session, which begins in March.
A National Rifle Association lobbyist we spoke with says the group is neutral on the bill for now. But she says they have grave concerns about it because it doesn't differentiate between pro-gun legislation and what she calls restrictive gun laws that negatively impact Second Amendment rights.