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 Why Parkland hasn't joined 26 other cities in suing for gun-control laws.

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PostSubject: Why Parkland hasn't joined 26 other cities in suing for gun-control laws.   Why Parkland hasn't joined 26 other cities in suing for gun-control laws. Icon_minitimeFri Jul 06, 2018 12:12 pm

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Parkland, where 17 people died in the Stoneman Douglas high school massacre, hasn’t joined 26 other Florida cities’ lawsuits that push to enact local gun-control laws.

Some activists say it sends the wrong message. But Parkland officials say the city has been busy tending to other important matters related to the massacre.

“The reason I’ve been quiet about that is it happened here in Parkland, to our kids, to our residents, to our teachers. It’s an extremely sensitive topic,” said Parkland Commissioner Stacy Kagan. “I greatly appreciate all the other cities jumping in ... [but] our focus has been right here at ground zero for Parkland. We’re trying to re-establish our community. I might have felt differently if I was in another city.

“I don’t want to get into the whole gun-control debate. I want to focus on the things I can control,” she said.

In response to the Parkland school shooting, the Florida cities’ lawsuits seek to undo a state law that prevents them from passing local gun-control laws because of a 2011 state statute, backed by the gun lobby, that outlines penalties for elected officials, including a $5,000 fine and the prospect of being removed from office.

Parkland City Attorney Andy Maurodis said Parkland chose to instead spend its money on other things that were security-related, such as a $105,000 study about the effectiveness of the current contract with the Broward Sheriff’s Office and $188,000 to beef up security at the school; the price tag to join Weston’s lawsuit is about $10,000.

“Our joining the lawsuit would not influence the result one iota,” he said. “It will have absolutely no impact on the lawsuit.”

Parkland City Manager Robert Payton said the commission has been “laser-focused on rebuilding our community” instead.

City spokesman Todd DeAngelis said the city has been focused on “dealing with the immediate aftermath” and “we haven’t felt compelled to get engaged in those kinds of things.”

Parkland Commissioner Grace Solomon said she didn’t know why the city hadn’t done so already. She said she “explored the opportunity” of joining a lawsuit with city staff, but it never materialized.

“I’m in favor of learning more about it, the ramifications and everything,” she said.

In April, the city of Weston spearheaded filing a lawsuit against the state.

Twenty cities were part of that lawsuit, and the cities of West Palm Beach and North Miami Beach soon will be added, said Jamie Cole, Weston’s city attorney.

Meanwhile, a motion was filed Monday to consolidate that lawsuit with two other similar lawsuits — one with four Broward cities, and another with Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter was among those shot and killed, has been encouraging cities and states around the country to change the law and push for reform with lobbying efforts.

“My position is I’m very supportive of those legal efforts, and I wish Parkland was part of it,” he said.

Matt Deitsch, who graduated from Stoneman Douglas in 2016, said he returned Sunday from North Dakota, where he was working with student activists and registering people to vote in November. He said students have reached out to Parkland City Hall but have not gotten answers.

‘“That’s really disappointing,” he said. “When something like this happens in Parkland, a quiet safe space, we need people to stand up.

“Parkland is trying to play their cards right by reacting politically correct instead of caring about saving lives.”
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