Much is changed in what was formerly known as The Gunshine State since Parkland. Republican Governor Rick Scott signed a new gun control bill into law that raises the minimum age to buy a long gun to 21, outlaws bump fire stocks, establishes “extreme risk” protection orders and imposes a three-day waiting period on long gun purchases.
The post-Parkland flurry has also emboldened a number of Florida cities and counties to mount a challenge to the state’s preemption law. If successful, the cities would be free to enact their own, more restrictive gun control laws (think “assault weapons” bans, 10-day waiting periods, etc.) that would re-create the hodgepodge of laws that plagued the state — and legal gun owners — before the preemption bill was signed into law.
Take, for example, Leon County, which is home to Tallahassee, the state capitol. County commissioners this week decided to impose universal background checks and a waiting period to address the mythical “gun show loophole.”
After a marathon public hearing featuring passionate speakers on both sides of the gun control debate, Leon County commissioners signed off on a new ordinance designed to close the so-called gun show loophole for background checks.
The measure requires background checks and a three-day waiting period for private gun sales on publicly accessible property, including gun shows, estate sales and garage sales. Commissioners approved it in a late night 6-1 vote, with Bryan Desloge, the lone Republican on the board, casting the only no vote.
Never mind that no mass shooter in history has ever been shown to have acquired firearms at a gun show. Commissioners saw an opportunity to strike while the gun control iron was hot.
Hold on, though. Florida’s preemption law carries stiff penalties for cities and counties that decide to flout it. Any mayor or county commissioner who knowingly violates the law can be fined $5000 and removed from office. Weren’t they worried about the potential consequences?
A 2011 state statute passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott preempts counties from enacting their own gun control regulations. However, a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1998 allows counties to require both background checks and waiting periods between three and five days.
Attendees at the marathon hearing pointed out the burden the law would place on law-abiding citizens . . .
“What you’re about to pass — all it’s going to do is inconvenience a few people that want to buy guns,” said Charlie Strickland, a former Leon County deputy and co-owner of Talon Range. “It’s not going to do anything else. It’s not going to make it any harder for criminals. It’s not going to make it any harder for someone who wants to kill themselves, unfortunately.”
The effect: nada.
NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer was due to attend the hearing to make the case against the proposed restrictions. But she was forced to stay away due to the number and severity of the death threats she received if she decided to attend.
“The death threats come with the job,” she said in a Sunday email. “I’ve dealt with it for many, many years. But it is so ugly this time NRA is insisting that I listen to my security advisers. It always amazes me how these people who claim to want to stop violence are so quick to threaten violence. I have never been afraid of them but it really makes me angry when they threaten my family.”
These are the same people who preach open-mindedness and tolerance. Not that anything Hammer was likely to say would have swayed the six commissioners who were bound and determined to do something to show their concern over gun violence. They saw an opportunity and the took it. Look for more of the same coming to other Florida jurisdictions soon.