Luis Valdes writes:
2017 was supposed to be the game changer for Florida Politics and Gun Rights. Donald Trump was elected into office because Florida was one of the key states that voted for him. Gun Rights Blocking Former NRA ‘A’ rate Republican Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla was voted out of the Florida Senate. Gun Rights Hating Republican Senate President Andy Gardiner was out due to being term limited. And the man that actually wrote the majority of the Pro-Gun Legislation in the Florida House and now Senate was made Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republican Senator Greg Steube. He took Senator Portilla’s spot.
Yup, 2017 seems like a sure win Florida. The Gunshine State was actually going to progress again on the restoring resident’s Second Amendment-protected firearms freedom.
In December of 2016, Senator Steube submitted a number of bills. One of them was SB-140. A wonderful omnibus bill that would give Florida permitted Open Carry, permitted Campus Carry, and the removal of numerous gun free zones. It was even scheduled to be passed in Steube’s own committee. A body made up of nine folks total. Five Republicans and Four Democrats. All of the Republicans have good NRA ratings and backing. Yup…. Everything looked good.
Then once again, the usual happened. In early January SB-140 was scheduled for a vote in committee. The vote was postponed since Senator Anitere Flores (R) (above) and Senator Rene Garcia (R) were not on board.
I contacted Sen. Flores’ Office back on January 24 and spoke with Tiffany Lorente; Sen. Flores’ personal secretary. I asked Ms. Lorente if Sen. Flores would support Open Carry or Campus Carry. Ms. Lorente said that Sen. Flores does not.
So the cat was out of the bag. When I spoke with Sen. Steube’s Office. They said the plan was to break up SB-140 and push it as individual bills. So on March 7, 2017; Sen. Steube scheduled SB-616 for committee vote. SB-616 was one of the new bills from the broken up SB-140. During that committee meeting. Sen. Flores flat out stated “I do not support guns on campus, I do not support having guns in airports and I do not support guns in school zones. I don’t support those things.”
Since that point it has been a dead end. Senator Flores has blocked every committee meeting and killed every bill via her actions. Remember now, Senator Flores is a NRA ‘A’ rated candidate and has been endorsed by the NRA since 2010.
On January 24, 2017; NRA President and USF Executive Director Marion P. Hammer said “If I were worried, you would Have seen me blast out an alert,” Hammer Said When Asked About the bill as written currently are to the News Service of Florida.
Well Ms. Hammer, I was able to find out the troubles we were having and I did it as a normal private citizen.
Worse, back in June and July of 2016; Sen. Flores publicly sided with Democrats and voted ‘yes’ for a Special Legislative Session to be called for Gun Control. That was on June 28, 2016. Then on July 6, 2016; Sen. Flores sent Marion P. Hammer a personal letter begging for NRA Endorsement and the NRA gave her another ‘A’ rating and endorsed her again.
Yet it took me five minutes to find her anti-gun history!
The complete failure of Marion P. Hammer and the NRA in Florida is horrible and there is no excuse. As a private citizen. I have burned my own personal vacation time to campaign for better gun rights at the Capitol in Tallahassee. I don’t get paid to lobby like Marion Hammer does. Yet I was able to do the leg work and find out what was going on long before the NRA did and worse, the NRA still gave her an ‘A’ Rating and supported her.
As a NRA member, I’m angry. As a Floridian, I’m angry. As a Republican, I’m angry. Because other than the NRA that has failed; the Florida GOP has too.
I’ve contacted the Florida GOP numerous times and out of the 150+ members that make up the party. Only three…. Yes, THREE FL GOP Committee Members have voiced a concern in how the FL GOP keeps having Republican Senators and Representatives year after year kill Pro-Gun legislation when the FL GOP campaigns on a Pro-Gun stance. It is sickening.
Between the failure of the NRA and the failure of the FL Republican Party. Florida keeps being held back when it comes to 2nd Amendment Progress.
I can say this…. These failures have driven me to improve the NRA. In 2018 I will be running for the Board of Directors. I’m tired of sitting on the sidelines and I am tired as a NRA member to see failure after repeated in Florida. Since 2011, these has been a repeated pattern.