DeSantis ousted official who won't enforce abortion laws — but is silent on sheriffs who won't enforce gun laws: report
Governor Florida Ron DeSantis. (YES Market Media / Shutterstock.com)

Last week, to great fanfare, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) announced he was suspending Andrew Warren, a Tampa-area elected state prosecutor who had indicated he doesn't intend to prosecute violations of the state's 15-week abortion ban, or potential prohibitions on gender-affirming care for teenagers. DeSantis described Warren as "neglecting his duties," even though no such cases have actually been brought to him at this time.

But according to the Orlando Sentinel, Warren is far from the only elected law enforcement official in the state making judgments about which laws to enforce. Numerous sheriffs throughout Florida have openly defied the state's gun laws — with no objection from DeSantis whatsoever.

"Some elected sheriffs have suggested they wouldn’t enforce gun control measures, tapping into an ideology that sheriffs are the final arbiter of what is constitutional," reported Skyler Swisher. "But that movement hasn’t sparked action from Gov. Ron DeSantis, who ordered a statewide review of state attorneys and their policy positions."

Many of these sheriffs are part of a group called the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, which proclaims on its website that “The vertical separation of powers in the Constitution makes it clear that the power of the sheriff even supersedes the powers of the president.”

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The article notes the case of Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma, who said of a proposed gun registration constitutional amendment, "It’s up to the sheriffs what they are willing to enforce," as well as the Florida Sheriffs Association itself, which in 2013 vowed not to “assist, support or condone” gun laws they deem are inconsistent with the Second Amendment.

DeSantis' predecessor, now-Sen. Rick Scott, actually did suspend a "constitutional sheriff," Liberty County Sheriff Nick Finch, for freeing a man who violated the state's concealed carry laws.

In 2018, in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, one of Scott's final acts as governor was to sign a bill raising the age to purchase guns, imposing a three-day waiting period, and giving judges power to confiscate guns from dangerous people under "red flag" orders. While running for governor, DeSantis said he would have vetoed this law.