Florida State Rep. Salzman Denies Threatening Hispanic Group After Video Exposes Her Stance on Constitutional Carry

FL State Rep. Michelle Salzman

Following a meeting at the Florida Capitol Building, state Rep. Michelle Salzman, a Republican, was accused of harassing and threatening members of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Florida because of a video that exposes why she will not support a constitutional carry bill.

On Jan. 18, Santiago Avila, Jr. and 10 members of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Florida (RNHAFL) met with Salzman in a conference room at the Florida Capitol building in Tallahassee. Santiago told Salzman there were two bills they wanted to address; a pro-life bill (Senate Bill 146) called the Fetal and Infant Mortality Reduction Act, and a constitutional carry bill HB 103 Carrying of Firearms Without Licenses (pdf).

HB 103 removes a requirement that a license to carry concealed firearm is required in order to carry such firearm, limits areas in which concealed carrying of a firearm is prohibited, revises criminal penalties, and revises other provisions relating to carrying of concealed weapons or firearms by nonresidents.

Salzman quickly assures them she is backing the pro-life bill. But things take a turn when Avila addresses the constitutional carry bill. A video of the exchange was recorded with a cell phone by one of the RNHAFL members…

The Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act is a gun control bill passed by Florida Republicans in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2018, where former student Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 people. On Feb. 16, new rules to update this legislation received unanimous approval from a Florida Senate subcommittee. The bill, SB 802, was introduced by Republican Florida state Sen. Joe Gruters. Similar legislation, HB 1421—co-sponsored by Republican state Reps. Alex Rizo and Chip LaMarca— is moving through the House.

“Was it a bad bill?” Salzman asked rhetorically before answering the question herself. “Yeah. I mean, I think it was. They voted for it, so they stand behind it and that’s what they’re doing. They’re standing behind their bill. So, they’re not going to hear a bill that omits the bill that they stood behind. It has nothing to do with what’s good or bad. It has to do with making a decision as a leader and following through with it, and so, I’m not gonna do anything to poke that bear. That’s a professional courtesy and many other things.”

Salzman then attempted to assuage the group’s disappointment with promises for the future.

According to her website, “Michelle supports constitutional carry statutes and salute the states that have passed them.” She built her entire campaign on Second Amendment and constitutional carry rhetoric and earned the endorsement of gun rights advocates like Concealed Patriot and Ammoland

But the truth about Salzman’s reasons for turning her back on constitutional carry legislation, as exposed in the video, has raised the ire of Luis Valdes, the Florida State Director for Gun Owners of America (GOA).

“It is with a heavy heart that I say this,” Valdes wrote on the GOA website on Feb. 16. “The Republican In Name Only (RINO) establishment has attacked an ally of Gun Owners of America in our State Capitol. The Republican National Hispanic Assembly (RNHA) of Florida is being dragged through the muck by Florida Republican 1st District State Representative Michelle Salzman.”

“This is actually an ongoing issue with the entire Republican establishment in Florida,” Valdes told The Epoch Times. “This isn’t just an issue with her. But right now, she is one of the more visible symptoms of what’s going on.”

Valdes, a 15-year veteran of the police force who just recently “hung up the badge” to work with GOA full time, said he has noticed a pattern among Florida lawmakers over the past decade.

“The pattern is, you have lawmakers campaigning on being pro-gun, and when push comes to shove, solid pro-gun legislation always dies in committee, usually under Republican control,” Valdes said.

According to Valdes, it took only sixteen days after the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act was introduced for it to hit the desk of then Gov. Rick Scott. “It went through all the committees in the House. It went through all the committees in the Senate. It went through all the floor votes for both chambers and it was passed and went to the governor’s desk. Mind you, year after year, bills like open carry, constitutional carry, and campus carry don’t even pass a single committee under Republican control, and that tells you something. In Salzman’s case, you have anti-gun leadership, and Salzman, being a freshman lawmaker, will not bite the hand that feeds her. She will side with her political masters versus her constituency and the area she represents is very conservative and very pro-gun. So, for her to go against that and to side with the leadership is telling you what the issue is. The way she’s going after the RNHA is appalling and it reeks of political corruption. It reeks of why my family fled communist Cuba. The idea of harassing and trying to denounce and blacklist an individual or a political organization because they recorded a public meeting is disastrous.”

Florida law prohibits secret video recordings for voyeuristic reasons in places where one should expect privacy, such as a bathroom. However, those laws do not apply to videos taken for newsgathering purposes, such as the video that surfaced of then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a closed-door fundraising event in 2012 where he can be heard saying people who supported Barack Obama supporters “believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”

As for Salzman’s threats to take legal action against the RNAH and its members for the video, Valdes noted how “the meeting took place in a communal conference room,” with the doors “wide open, while a public official discussed public matters with the public in a public space.

“Her threats to have Capitol Police go after them is heartbreaking,” Valdes said. “I would expect this from Cuba, Venezuela, Nazi Germany, North Korea, or the Soviet Union. I wouldn’t expect to hear this coming from Florida, a state that holds itself up as being one of the freest in the union.”…

Read more at The Epoch Times