Florida Legislature hard at work trying to approve more guns in more places

Florida Legislature hard at work trying to approve more guns in more places
Quote of the Week: "And, if you leave firearms to looters and criminals, that makes the situation even more dangerous for law enforcement and first responders. In a hurricane-prone state like Florida, this bill is a no-brainer. When families are ordered to evacuate their homes, they must take children, pets, personal valuables and flee. They need to be able to take their guns with them for protection. You have to seriously question the motives of anyone who opposes that."
– Marion Hammer, former National Rifle Association president

In a week that saw fad-diet former-Fox-head presidential failure Mike Huckabee comparing being gay to alcoholism and then saw Katy Perry dancing with sharks before riding off on a rainbow-colored star at the world's straightest and drunkest event, the Super Bowl, it was really hard for us to keep our focus on any direct target (other than Rick Scott's Bailey-gate, which we've already covered ad nauseam). But, as we speak, the 2015 legislative session is lining up its conservative artillery, and, wouldn't you know it, there is a lot of tough talk about hypothetical (and hypocritical) situations along with the guns that would obviously solve them. Never mind that we've not learned any lessons from castle-doctrines-gone-wrong, university shootings and, well, suicides, the National Rifle Association needs to keep that trigger finger occupied lest it be misused for ethnic cleansing.

98 percent: Percentage of concealed-carry licenses that are approved in the state of Florida, where approximately 1 million people have now obtained licenses

Last year, the Legislature considered a bill that most of us considered to be akin to the Walking Dead, in that if we were all forced to walk across Florida's infrastructure to escape a zombie apocalypse, we sure as shit better be able to bring our guns, permits or not! The Florida Sheriff's Association, at the time headed by Polk County's own resident vigilante justice-maker, Grady Judd, balked at the idea of more people with more guns without permits during a projected crisis. What could possibly go wrong?

What's not surprising is that the bill is back this year, coming from the happy puppets of the Republican Party and the NRA's hands up their asses. What is surprising is that the bill's sponsor – Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg – also happens to be the one major conservative crossing party lines on medical marijuana. In fact, last week he said he was "cautiously optimistic" about that bill's success in the conservative-dominated Legislature, even with John Morgan puffing him up. But in the case of this gun bill, we have to break ranks with Brandes; he's making us sad now by saying things like the following while the NRA keeps tugging at its Hammer:

"[The Florida Sheriff's Association] wanted some of the protections of this legislation to end at the county line," he said, according to WFSU. "Well, the county line in Pinellas County is sometimes in the middle of a bridge. So, to say, well, you can take it up to this imaginary county line, and, then, beyond that you can be convicted of a felony, and all you're trying to do is flee in an evacuation – I think people have enough to be concerned about. It's not about just being a declared emergency. You have to be under a mandatory evacuation. You know, if someone is saying, 'Grab your dogs, grab your kids, get in the car, and go, flee for your life ... that this bill would even kick in and you'd be protected under this legislation. So, it's an incredibly rare circumstance that this would be allowing."

How rare? Since 1851, only 37 major hurricanes have hit the Sunshine State. Compare that to the 695 firearm deaths that occurred in 2013, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. We're fixing the wrong problem.

37: Number of major hurricanes to hit Florida since 1851, out of 114 total hurricanes to hit the state

Perhaps awkwardly, this latest in the brigade of gun laws in the making comes at the same time as a renewed movement to allow guns on college campuses, even though it was just last November that a gunman fired shots in the library at Florida State University, not to mention all of the other campus shooting victims piling up across the country. State Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, proposed the bill, ostensibly unaware of the FSU shooting even though he works in Tallahassee, coming at it with that pretzel logic that says that more guns would stop more shooters from shooting, because, well, nobody has a temper or a bad day.

In response, FSU's shiny new Republican President John Thrasher has even come out against the proposed legislation. And, as people often do, there has been a MoveOn.org petition launched to halt the initiative, which has already sailed through a purchased-for-cheap Tallahassee committee.

"Florida's higher-education officials are most qualified to determine the safety requirements for their campuses, including restricting guns only to certified law enforcement officers," the petition reads in part. "Allowing non-law enforcement personnel to carry loaded, concealed handguns on campus will only create an unsafe and volatile environment for all Floridians."

It has gained nearly 2,500 of the required 3,000 signatures as of press time.

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