Declaring 2A Sanctuaries and Florida Gun Laws was last modified: January 15th, 2020 by Howard Iken
Bruce Przepis on Gun Control

Declaring 2A Sanctuaries and Florida Gun Laws

Video Transcript

Tom Lemons: 

Hi, I’m Tom Lemons with the Ayo and Iken report.

Tom Lemons:    Last year I interviewed Ayo and Iken attorney Bruce Przepis to discuss Florida gun laws and recent proposals by county and city officials to declare their jurisdictions a second amendment sanctuary district. We had an opportunity to interview Hernando County commissioner Steve Champion regarding his proposal, which received unanimous support by all five commissioners on December 17th. Hernando County joins Citrus Lake, Sarasota and Wakulla counties in adopting the measure. But the language varies from county to county. There is even talk of refusing to obey the red flag laws and proposing an option for constitutional carry. That basically means there are no restrictions or permits required to carry a firearm openly or concealed.

Tom Lemons:  

I hope you enjoyed this segment of the Ayo and Iken report.

Tom Lemons:  

Tom Lemons with the Ayo and Iken report. We’re here with Bruce Przepis and he is an attorney here with the Ayo and Iken law firm. And today we’re going to talk about gun legislation, gun laws, and different things to do with guns across Florida here and the nation. And unfortunately this comes on the heels of a really horrible tragedy that occurred in California on Thursday, another school shooting, which claimed the lives of two young teenagers and injured three others.

Tom Lemons:

So as these tragedies continue to happen across the nation, people are becoming concerned as to what do we do? Do we strengthen the laws? Do we make guns more available to law abiding citizens? What do we do to save lives? So I have Bruce here, we want to get his opinion from the legal perspective and also just his personal opinion on some of these issues. And Bruce is actually a former law enforcement officer and served in the military. That’s right?

Bruce Przepis:  

Yes I am. I began my law enforcement career in the United States army as a military police officer and then an investigator. And then when I left the military I became police officer in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and then I returned to Florida and took up more routes here so to speak, and worked for the Pasco Sheriff’s office for awhile before going to law school.

Tom Lemons:  

So a long career in law enforcement.

Bruce Przepis:   

Yes.

Tom Lemons:                And serving for our country. That’s wonderful. So you would know probably better than anyone else… and being an attorney too, a lot of the laws pertaining to firearms, possession of firearms, the use of fire-

Bruce Przepis:

Yes.

Tom Lemons:

… I’m sure you’ve had a lot of experience with that.

Bruce Przepis:

And it’s distressing in your opening when you talk about the tragedies that we’ve seen with guns all over the country. It seems to be almost on a daily basis that we’re seeing it. So it affects me not only as a lawyer, but of course as a person as well. It’s quite distressing.

Tom Lemons: 

I’m sure you’ve had to, during your career, had to see a lot of tragedies like that. Maybe not as many of these school types shootings. This kind of a… I hate to say it, kind of a new fad is this, for lack of a better term in the last decade or. So, some of the issues that we want to touch on today, Bruce, well, one of the things that kind of spread across the country as far as legislatively was this new thing that they just kind of generally call the red flag laws. And we’ve covered this before. We’ve talked about them, but I want to get your opinion because it’s really kind of something that… it’s a nonpartisan. I mean there’s people on both sides of the political aisle, but believe they are a good thing. Can you kind of describe what a red flag law is and how it affects Florida?

Bruce Przepis:               Well, I’d like to talk about the Florida law in particular, which as you may know, was passed in 2018 as a result of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school tragedy. And it was an act that was passed which as a result of that, and in Florida we have a procedure now under the law what’s called a risk protection order.

Tom Lemons:  

Okay.

Bruce Przepis:

Which is a scenario whereby any law enforcement officer, if they have cause to believe that a particular person is a danger to themselves or others with respect to a firearm, that they can petition the circuit court anywhere here in Florida to have a hearing and remove those firearms and ammunition from the custody of that particular person.

Tom Lemons:  

So, what kind of scenario would we be looking at? Is this a family member is seeing or hearing things from a loved one that is scaring them, putting them in some kind of fear that they may commit a crime? Is that-

Bruce Przepis:  

Yeah that could certainly start the process, but they would have to contact law enforcement.

Tom Lemons: 

Okay.

Bruce Przepis:  

Someone like you or I, if we had cause to believe that we knew someone or a family member-

Tom Lemons: 

Right.

Bruce Przepis: 

… was going to be a danger to themselves or is a danger to themselves, they’d have to contact law enforcement. So only a law enforcement officer can file the petition and that’s how essentially the process starts.

Tom Lemons: 

Okay, and then as this procedure goes on, they basically come and they confiscate… if it works all well-

Bruce Przepis:  

Yeah.

Tom Lemons: 

… and there are nothing that interrupts the procedure, the firearms are taken away, the person maybe has to go through some evaluations-

Bruce Przepis:  

Yes.

Tom Lemons:  

… go in front of a judge and then what happens after that if they are cleared and if they’re not [crosstalk 00:04:43]?

Bruce Przepis:

Well, essentially what happens when the petition is filed, it can be filed in one of two different ways. It can be what we call on an ex parte basis, which without notice to what we call the respondent, the person who owns the firearm-

Tom Lemons:

Okay.

Bruce Przepis:

… they don’t know about it. The officer petitions, files an affidavit. If the judge feels that there’s sufficient cause the judge can grant it ex parte and they would secure the firearms. But then to satisfy due process requirements under Florida law-

Tom Lemons:                Right.

Bruce Przepis:               .

.. notice opportunity to be heard, there would be a hearing where that person could challenge that particular confiscation of the firearm. If during the course of a hearing, a judge determines that there’s good cause to make it up to 12 months, then at the end of that time that person could petition to receive the firearms back.

Tom Lemons:

Okay.

Bruce Przepis:

There’s also a provision for the court to consider if there’s evidence to that issue of putting the person in some sort of counseling, mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling. But it does allow the respondent to ultimately attempt to retain the firearms back. Or there’s even a provision where they can place the firearms in the custody of some other person who will assure the court-

Tom Lemons: 

Right.

Bruce Przepis: 

… that the person will not have access to them.

Tom Lemons: 

So, it’s essentially… there is some due process which gun… a gun act or I’m sorry, proponents of gun rights, they’re concerned with the fact that one person called it instead of it being probable cause, they’re calling it reasonable cause. And they’re saying it’s kind of stepping on gun rights in some way. The second amendment. But personally, I mean, you don’t think that’s really-

Bruce Przepis:  

No. It’s not. I find the law very comprehensive, very detailed. It’s protective of the state of Florida’s rights through a law enforcement officer if they have reasonable cause to believe that someone is a danger to himself. And it also protects the due process rights of the respondent, the person who owns the gun. So I think in this statute, which is section 790.41 of the Florida statutes, if anyone is interested in looking it up-

Tom Lemons:  

Okay.

Bruce Przepis:

… I think it does a very good job at sort of finding an even keel if you will, between those particular interest. And also, by the way, the first district court of appeal as early as two months ago entered a decision on an appeal on a particular case where they actually found that the statute in question satisfies due process and that is not unconstitutional.

Tom Lemons: 

Right.

Bruce Przepis:  

So it’s still a young law in the overall scheme of things.

Tom Lemons: 

Right.

Bruce Przepis: 

But we have at least one district court in Florida, a very important district, the first DCA-

Tom Lemons: 

Sure.

Bruce Przepis: 

… finding that the law satisfies due process and constitutional requirements.

Tom Lemons:  

So that leads us to another issue with guns and firearms. And that is the right to open carry. There are literally, and this may come as a surprise to some of you, but there are 45 States that allow open carry. Of course now that’s allowed with some regulations attached to that. Some are… but are completely unlicensed to do that. You can carry a firearm on your hip. So I want to talk to Bruce about that. Get his opinion of the open carry issue. I did a little research before we got together today, it looks like Florida did try to push through an open carry law back in 2016 but it died in committee basically.

Bruce Przepis:

Yeah.

Tom Lemons: 

So what are your thoughts on open carry? But let me add a little caveat to that question. What are your thoughts on it and then, do you think this will help or hurt the situation we’re having right now with just so much violence going on with firearms?

Bruce Przepis:

Yeah. I’m certainly not opposed from a personal standpoint for open carry and you’re right about the 45 States. I must confess some ignorance, I wasn’t unaware that there were that many. And my guess, although I’m not a politician, I’m a lawyer, but my guess is that it probably has a fair chance of being brought up again by the legislature and perhaps even passing. But you know my take on this is really it comes down to deterrence. If you think about criminal laws, why we have criminal laws, and why we have punishment, we punish people sometimes severely for having a firearm, using a firearm. Talk about the five, 10, 20 law.

Tom Lemons: 

Right.

Bruce Przepis: 

And the deterrent there, obviously, I’m not sure anyone could disagree that going to jail, being severely punished, having your liberty taken away is a deterrent. So I liken the open carry law to a situation where perhaps maybe folks would disagree with me, but perhaps someone who might otherwise commit a crime being in a time and a place where they can see that there are law abiding citizens with guns in their possession, either strapped to their hip or otherwise. I think there’s a good argument that can be made that that’s a deterrent.

Bruce Przepis:  

I can imagine the bad actor, if you will, coming into a bank with thoughts of robbing it and standing in line and standing at the teller window are a number of people who have guns strapped to their hip. I would think perhaps, again, someone might disagree, but I would think that that person might think twice about committing a crime there-

Tom Lemons:  

Sure.

Bruce Przepis:  

… because that person sees that we have a number of people here who could very well shoot back at me and. And as opposed to conceal carry, you don’t know. I mean it’s obviously, it’s very difficult to tell unless you know a particular person carries a gun. So I guess we could argue about whether it’s good or bad. I think it’s probably coming. I mean, if with only a few States left as it were, I personally don’t have a problem with it.

Bruce Przepis: 

I do understand that people unlike me who are not gun owners might be taken a little bit-

Tom Lemons: 

Yeah.

Bruce Przepis:  

… aback by people walking around downtown and in businesses, restaurants, whatever with guns.

Tom Lemons: 

Right. Right.

Bruce Przepis:

But I think it’s a sign of the times. We talked earlier about the tragedies that we see almost on a daily basis, particularly in schools. And from a personal standpoint, I tell my family, I don’t think I’m naive or being overly cautious, but it’s a dangerous world out there and I want to be able to protect myself from a personal standpoint. And I would hope that others would want to protect themselves as well.

Tom Lemons: 

Absolutely. I mean it’s just a sense of logic. It’s like you were saying, going back to the bank robbery theory. I would think as a common sense person, if I may, I don’t think the criminals are really that bright, but if they decided to go into a bank armed with a firearm and everybody’s carrying one, if I was that bank robbery, Bob, Robert, I would probably want to walk right out and change my mind.

Bruce Przepis:  

Exactly. And it’s interesting because most, I think, defensive instructors will tell you that if you ever in the unfortunate situation of getting in a gun fight, it’s not something that we ever hope for-

Tom Lemons:   

Right.

Bruce Przepis: 

… but it comes as such a shock and a surprise that the bad person usually has a leg up because you don’t know what they’re going to do, but they usually know what they’re going to do.

Tom Lemons:  

Right.

Bruce Przepis: 

So that’s where I think the deterrent factor comes in.

Tom Lemons:   

But then you have the, like you were saying too, that we do have people who are either they’re just completely anti-gun or maybe they’ve suffered a tragedy in their life.

Bruce Przepis:  

Yes.

Tom Lemons:  

They’ve lost a child or they’ve lost a loved one to what they refer to as gun violence. Which leads me to another question and it’s always kind of raised a debate among the people who are for gun rights, people that are against them. Is the use, and it seems like an intentional use of saying gun violence. And I know that seems like just a trivial term, but most people that are gun support will say, “Well, it’s not the gun, it’s the person behind the gun.” Right? I know it’s trivial issue, but what are your thoughts on that? Just on that.

Bruce Przepis:  

I tend to agree with that. I know sometimes it’s just too simple. Let’s say that in someone who is just absolutely against guns of any sort probably will would not accept that. But I’ve owned guns for many years. I’m very careful with them. I believe I’m a positive, very careful gun owner. I have grandchildren, a lot of young children that come to my house, either my grandchildren or they bring their friends. And so I agree with that scenario that if you’re a prudent gun owner and you’re careful, it really does come down to the fact that it is the person who’s holding the gun as opposed to the gun itself. I am not aware of a whole lot of scenarios whereby guns short of just go off on their own.

Tom Lemons:  

Right. Right. And that’s-

Bruce Przepis:   

But it’s a hard sell for someone who perhaps has a different perspective. Maybe they were harmed or a family member was. So it’s an issue that there may never be complete agreement. But-

Tom Lemons: 

Right. There is a new thing, a new… I don’t even know if it’s called legislation, we can’t call the legislation, but it’s kind of a proclamation or a declaration that some counties in Florida, and actually Lake County was the first, Sarasota County is trying to push through, what’s called a second amendment sanctuary County.

Tom Lemons: 

Now this has happened across the United States in different places, but now it’s coming here to Florida. And again, really it doesn’t have any legal consequence or bite to it. But it basically is a proclamation that we ask this County, let’s say, we are in support of our second amendment rights and we’re not going to have it chipped away by you guys.

Bruce Przepis:  

Yeah. Exactly.

Tom Lemons:                By anti-gun lobbyists. Right? So what are your thoughts? And just to let you know Hernando County, which isn’t far from us here, is poised to make that declaration on this coming Tuesday and-

Bruce Przepis:  

Do you have an expectation of [crosstalk 00:16:05]-

Tom Lemons:                I actually do. I actually do. I spoke with commissioner Steve Champion just recently and he’s the one that’s actually putting this forth and made the motion. And he expects all five commissioner including himself, commissioners to vote yes on-

Bruce Przepis:

Is that right?

Tom Lemons: 

Oh absolutely. So I do expect it to happen. I’m going to try and be there and watch the excitement and see what-

Bruce Przepis:

Does that surprise you that you have that expectation? Not in Hernando County?

Tom Lemons:

Not in Hernando County. That’s one of our more red counties.

Bruce Przepis:  

There you go.

Tom Lemons:   

If we want to put it that way.

Bruce Przepis:  

And it’s not a bad thing necessarily.

Tom Lemons: 

Right. Right. Exactly. We certainly have a mixture in this state. I guess we call us a purple state wouldn’t we?

Bruce Przepis: 

Probably. Yes.

Tom Lemons:   

But what are your thoughts on that? I mean, like I said, I don’t know what kind of a legal basis that has any power strength behind it. What is your opinion? What do you think it’s going to do as state starts or County start to do that?

Bruce Przepis:  

It’s interesting to me because you talk about second amendment sanctuary counties, not to be confused with sanctuary cities that-

Tom Lemons:

Right.

Bruce Przepis:  

… we hear so much about.

Tom Lemons:  

Right.

Bruce Przepis: 

I find it very interesting because my view of it is it’s really more aspirational than substantive.

Tom Lemons:  

Sure.

Bruce Przepis: 

Because although I’m not an expert in that area of the law, I don’t know and I don’t believe that a County can override a state law or federal law with respect to firearms and how they are used.

Tom Lemons:  

Right.

Bruce Przepis:  

So when I say aspirational, I think it’s just a feeling that perhaps County commissioners or their constituents are feeling an attack-

Tom Lemons: 

Right.

Bruce Przepis: 

…from whatever side of the aisle, so to speak-

Tom Lemons:

Sure.

Bruce Przepis:

… that they fear in perhaps some of our political candidates on the democratic side are suggesting that they would come in and just take people’s firearms. Personally, I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. I don’t see how it could happen.

Tom Lemons: 

Despite just a few of the candidates out there saying, “That’s what we’re going to do.” Right?

Bruce Przepis: 

Exactly.

Tom Lemons: 

But you’re right-

Bruce Przepis:  

Right.

Tom Lemons:

… I think it would be a tough-

Bruce Przepis:

But I’m not so sure that these laws or I don’t even know that you can call them laws-

Tom Lemons:   

Right.

Bruce Przepis: 

… are things that are going to be able to be enforced. Maybe it makes people feel better. And I don’t mean to minimize it, but I think perhaps it’s a scenario where they feel as though that the people that they represent want this and it makes them feel good and perhaps in their minds gives them some protection. So it’ll be interesting to see if other counties in Florida and perhaps throughout the country-

Tom Lemons: 

Right.

Bruce Przepis: 

… follow that lead.

Tom Lemons:  

So Steve, you are preparing to put forth a proposal next Tuesday at the board of County commissioners meeting to declare Hernando County as a second amendment sanctuary County. Is that correct?

Steve: 

Yeah, that’s correct, Tom. It’s happening all around the countryside. I love the claim and as an original idea, but it’s not. We have one County in the state of Florida so far. We should have been the first, but I hope to be the second County in the state of Florida to declare ourselves a second amendment sanctuary County. And what that means is that basically that our County government is going to do nothing to infringe your second amendment rights. But I think it sends a message to our legislation saying that this County along with others, I’m hoping out of 67 counties, maybe we’ll get 50 plus that will say that they’re pro second amendment or a second amendment sanctuary. And now that sends a message to our governor and our legislators. Recently I proposed a letter that went to the governor and I actually posted it on Facebook and all five commissioners signed off on it that we were concerned with some of the legislation coming out eroding our second amendment rights-

Tom Lemons:  

About this item. Now, Citrus County not only brought it forward but adopted it with almost the same language in the same meetings. So they were a little more proactive, but they had us to go by a little bit there. And if you look at Virginia right now, it’s pretty much in chaos. There’s been 90% of the counties already have already designated that and there’s a lot of stuff going on there.

Steve:  

What’s that issue there? I don’t know if I’ve quite absorbed everything-

Tom Lemons:  

Well there’s, there’s malicious starting, there’s all kinds of stuff. It’s really bad because of the Democrats took over the state and then the threatening of to send the national guard to confiscate weapons. There a lot of stuff going on. It’s pretty, it’s pretty nasty. But the municipalities are stepping and saying that through big numbers that a majority of the counties are saying, “Hey, we abide by the constitution. The second amendment important.” Of course all the Bill of Rights are important. We’ve already stressed the fourth. So I’m hoping and seeking approval for you guys to say that you’re good with going forward. I seem like we had a consensus last time.

Steve:  

All right. We have a motion commissioner champion and second in commissioner Duke’s. All in favor?

Steve:    

Any opposed? Thank you.

Tom Lemons:  

Well, Bruce, again, one of our attorneys here at the Ayo and Iken law firm. You can go to our website at myfloridalaw.com and you can find his full biography, learn a little bit more about him personally. He’s one of our… all of our attorneys are, are just fantastic so I have to give them all credit. But anything you want to find out about Bruce personally, his background, his career is on our website. That’s myfloridalaw.com.

Tom Lemons: 

And Bruce, I just want to thank you for taking some time to come in here, talk to us about these very controversial issues and I’m sure that everyone is heartbroken when we hear these tragedies, these shootings, these senseless killings. We hope that they change. But that’s what’s so great about this country is we can have-

Bruce Przepis: 

Yes.

Tom Lemons: 

… debate and we can-

Bruce Przepis: 

Absolutely. And I hope perhaps beyond hope that we’ve heard the last of it. Perhaps I’m naive, but thank you for having me.

Tom Lemons: 

Yeah.

Bruce Przepis:  

And I hope what we’ve talked about may help some folks make a decision perhaps one way or the other or at least give them another perspective.

Tom Lemons:   

Absolutely. Well, thank you again Bruce.

Bruce Przepis: 

Thank you, Tom. Good to see you.

Tom Lemons: 

All right. You too.

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