GOA: Florida’s Republican lawmakers dismiss the Second Amendment

Despite a supermajority in the Legislature, Florida is the worst Republican controlled state in the nation for Second Amendment rights. It remains the only red state with an under-21 purchase and concealed carry ban, a mandatory waiting period, red flag laws, numerous gun-free zones, and a blanket ban on open carry. Furthermore, many in Republican leadership are quite open about their anti-gun points of view.

Some will immediately push back and argue lawmakers just passed “Constitutional Carry,” but anyone who knows a single thing about the legislation would confirm how watered down the bill was. It’s wholly inaccurate to refer to the law as “Constitutional Carry” when it failed to also lift the complete ban on the open carry of firearms, which leaves Floridians in the very small, and very liberal company of California, Illinois, and New York where this is also the case.

Those who know the ins and outs of lawmaking in Tallahassee know that Republican lawmakers have been merely throwing gun owners cheap table-scraps, while at the same time, they’re seriously considering further restrictions on Second Amendment rights. Don’t just take this author’s word for it. Instead, consider the fact that there’s a legitimate chance an expansion of red flag laws is passed this coming session; SB-394.

That’s right, Sen. Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) and Rep. John Paul Temple (R-Wildwood) are pushing their version of this legislation right now for passage this session. To refresh, red flag laws empower a judge to issue firearm confiscation orders to law enforcement, without the accused being given the right to due process, as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.

Instead of addressing the issue of managing potentially dangerous persons intent on doing harm, this bill allows the government to violate the right of due process while still permitting those potentially dangerous individuals to freely wander the streets. Just taking guns away because partisan anti-gun advocates say it will keep us safe ignores the real threat to society.

If lawmakers actually wanted to address the real issue, they should have introduced a bill to expand public funding for mental health treatment and make it more accessible to Florida’s students and public employees under their benefits.

As a former state law enforcement officer, this author can attest to the fact that state employee healthcare benefits are woefully underfunded. Pushing for expanded mental healthcare access so students, teachers and school staff, and other public employees have the resource available to them is the right approach. Just choosing to red flag someone and placing a political scarlet letter on their personnel file and public life is bad policy, and as already mentioned, unconstitutional.

Sadly, instead of getting their act together, it appears likely that Republican lawmakers will continue to follow the tried-and-true pattern of so many politicians: campaign on something, but then fail to act on it once in office, or worse, do something that runs entirely counter to one’s commitments.

In Florida, that’s already manifested when Republicans blocked the repeal of gun-free zones, the passage of open carry, the repeal of the under-21 purchase and carry ban, and even got caught throwing pro-gun petitions in the trash. Most damningly, Republicans lawmakers are even defending gun control that Democrats put in place at the urging of then Dade County Prosecutor Janet Reno in the late 1980s!

Republican leaders in Tallahassee will inevitably push back and highlight their “wins” on this issue, but those who pay close attention can see clear as day through that noise. Florida is failing to make the progress necessary to put its citizens on a level plane with those in neighboring Georgia and Alabama.

Gov. DeSantis is perhaps the best ally to gun owners in state leadership right now — he supported open carry and opposes red flag laws. One can only hope that he will not falter and wander down the path of pushing feel-good legislation that merely sweeps things under a rug, as his Republican colleagues in the Legislature have repeatedly done. In the meantime, pro-gun voters need to start paying closer attention.

Read more at Orlando Sentinel