Not There Yet…

Even with all of the positive results of recent elections, along with the appointment of a solid Constitutionalist to the U.S. Supreme Court, passing pro-gun-rights and pro-carry bills, especially at the state level, seems to be just as difficult as ever.

A perfect example is my home state of Florida, long considered one of the most gun-friendly states in the nation. We have the highest number of citizens legally allowed to carry firearms (1.7 million) and very high rates of gun ownership in general.

Yet with the 2017 legislative session half over, a number of recent bills that would have protected and/or expanded our rights are currently stalled in the Tallahassee statehouse, among them:

▪ GUN BAN LIABILITY (SB 610 / HB 819): Would make a private “business, organization or entity” that bans concealed weapons liable for death or injury to patrons.

▪ GUNS IN AIRPORTS (SB 618 / HB 6001): Would allow carry in parking facilities and passenger terminals outside of security checkpoints (as in many other states).

▪ GUNS ON CAMPUS (SB 622 / HB 6005): Long overdue, in my opinion.

▪ OPEN CARRY (SB 644): Open carry is not a problem in any other state where it is allowed — Florida will be no different.

▪ ELIMINATE ‘GUN-FREE’ ZONES (SB 908 / HB 803): Would allow concealed guns at Florida’s seaports and remove all 15 locations in state law where concealed weapons permit-holders cannot currently carry, including establishments that serve alcohol.

Proponents of such restrictions ignore the fact that virtually every mass public shooting has occurred at these same gun-free zones they so vehemently support. This includes the horrific Orlando incident at the Pulse nightclub just one year ago, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Such laws merely ensure that murderous monsters will confront only unarmed victims.

And laws banning carry “where alcohol is served” turn legally armed individuals into criminals, simply because they decided to sit at the bar to have a burger and a Diet Coke. Other states have no problems with it, because the real issue is whether or not you were carrying your firearm while intoxicated, not which seat in a restaurant you happened to be occupying.

Note that one of the people blamed for the lack of movement is a ranking Republican Senator, Ms. Anitere Flores, who recently whined, “I think the members — not just myself, but some others — we’re a little gun-bill fatigued.” Oh, really? She’s “fatigued” by having to do her job? We’ll remember that in the next primary.

On the plus side, a very important enhancement to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott (R) just this past week. A decision by the Florida Supreme Court in 2015 disturbingly placed the burden on the defendant to convince the court, during a pre-trial hearing, that he/she acted in self-defense.

This dangerous ruling by the court essentially upended a fundamental principle of all American law — that the burden of proof must always be on the state, never the defendant. SB128 restores this principle to Stand Your Ground cases. Kudos to Governor Scott, and all those who supported the bill.

And thankfully, a whole series of anti-gun bills, from bogus “Universal Background Check” proposals to yet another “Assault Weapons” ban, have also failed to pass. But only because people like you continue to make your voices heard.

Wherever you live, the battle likely continues … so stay in the fight.