My name is Luis Valdes and I am going to run for the NRA Board of Directors in 2018.
Let me give you a little bit of background on who I am and what drove me to this point. I’m a husband and an everyday man. I’m not rich by any means nor am I a lawyer or professional lobbyist. I’m just a normal guy. As an American I am the first in my family to be born in the USA. My family fled from the horrors of communist Cuba in 1961 and came to the USA. I grew up in a middle class family. My father was a police officer for thirty-five years and a NRA member since 1981. I grew up in Miami, Florida and did the typical things that many gun owners did. I grew up shooting and hunting.
But I also grew up understanding that one of the first things that was done in Cuba was that took my family’s guns away and it was with that action that they stole their property, wealth, and worse… their freedom and liberties. I told myself I would never allow that to happen in the USA. So my father being the great dad that he is. Got me a membership to the NRA in August of 1994 and I’ve been a member since then and even followed in my father’s footsteps. Also as a gun owner and a Miami Native growing up in a Cuban Household. I’ve been a long time Republican and even remember going to the polls with my Dad so he could vote for George H.W. Bush in 1988.
I grew up reading the accomplishments and hard fights that the NRA has waged. Since I was kid, I read every article in every issue of American Rifleman that I could steal from my father and then from my own issues when I became a member. I read about the NRA’s hard work during the dark days of the 1994 Clinton Assault Weapons Ban, the struggle to get President George W Bush and Congress to not renew the Clinton Ban. To fighting President Obama, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and the gun grabbing ilk that opposes individual freedom and liberty. I have read, seen, and heard. The NRA is a wonderful organization and what makes it wonderful is the members. The people that make it and give it the strength that it needs to fight the hard fight.
And that inspired me to join fight. To write, call, and meet elected officials in the halls and chambers of Florida’s Capitol.
So what does this have to do with Florida, the 2nd Amendment, the Republican Party, and why I’m running for the Board of Directors in 2018? Well, let me explain.
Florida, a place once called the Gunshine State has fallen from grace and is a shadow of its former self today. A state once held to high esteem in regard to expanding the rights of Americans when it came to self-defense is now the laughing stock. Thirteen State, yes… THIRTEEN STATES currently have Constitutional Carry and three more are about to join those thirteen states. And Florida is still stuck in the past.
In 1987, Florida revolutionized the idea of self-defense by instituting a Shall Issue Conceal Carry Permit System. Before, Florida and the majority of the US was on a corrupt system of the May Issue Permit System by only allowing the political elite to be issued with Carry Licenses. Places like New York and New Jersey are still on such a system. Well, that was thirty years ago for Florida. Today it is 2017 and Florida should be leading the pack instead of falling far to the back of it.
Right now three of Florida close neighbors are doing away with their permitting system altogether and going to Constitutional Carry. Texas, Alabama, and South Carolina all are sailing bills through their legislative bodies to pass Constitutional Carry. All three are Republican Dominated States. Florida is too. Yet there we have a problem.
In Florida, year after year under Republican Party Control. Sadly, it has been a number of Republicans that kill any pro gun bill from passing. This year alone, it was two Republicans that blocked pro gun bills from passing in the State Senate. Primarily it was Republican Senator Anitere Flores with Republican Senator Rene Garcia pulling a rear guard action for her. Both were ‘A’ Rated by the National Rifle Association. And this year, just like previous years. It has been NRA ‘A’ Rated and Endorsed Republicans that have killed pro gun bills. In 2016 and 2015 it was Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, who prior to his treachery was also ‘A’ Rated by the NRA. In 2014 it was Representative Charles McBurney and in 2011 it was Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff.
In forty-four states, Airport Carry is legal. All it does is allow a law abiding citizen to carry in the unsecured areas of an airport (parking lots, pickup & drop off areas, and nothing more). And in 2017; Florida couldn’t pass a bill that would legalize that?
This year alone, Florida wasn’t even trying to get Constitutional Carry. All that was being done was an attempt to have Permitted Open Carry, Permitted Campus Carry, and the remove of a number of gun free zones. 45 other States have Open Carry. Yet we have a number of Republicans continue to call themselves pro gun and defenders of the 2nd Amendment. And they can’t even pass that yet alone even bring up Constitutional Carry.
Right now the only thing that has even gotten out of committee is SB-128. The Stand Your Ground Bill that shifts the burden of proof back to the Prosecutor’s Office and the not Defendant. A bill that so called pro gun Republicans like Anitere Flores claimed to have support and yet with just two weeks to go before this year’s legislative session ends. It is still being bounced around between the House and Senate to where there can be no agreement and no floor vote. So much for the some of these Florida Republicans to be Pro Gun. Senator Anitere Flores voted against SB-128 when originally at the start of this year’s legislative session she claimed to support it.
I am tired of seeing Florida be passed over by other States when it comes to the expansion of freedom and liberty. The majority of the South will be Constitutional Carry by the end of the year. The entire Southern US is Open Carry (Actually Forty-Five States are Open Carry) and yet Florida is still stuck in 1987. The NRA needs to revise its entire system of dealing with the elected officials and government bureaucrats. There needs to be a more rigorous examination and system in place before an endorsement is made.
Back when this was all starting in January; on the 24th of that month. NRA President and USF Executive Director Marion P. Hammer said “If I were worried, you would Have seen me blast out an alert,” when asked by the News Service of Florida about the issues with Senator Anitere Flores blocking pro gun bills.
But back in June and July of 2016; Senator Anitere 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. That is a problem.
As a private citizen, gun owner, Floridian, and NRA Member. I have burnt my own personal vacation time and taken days off from work to campaign for better gun rights at our State Capitol in Tallahassee. I don’t get paid to lobby. I respect Marion Hammer for her hard work, especially for what she did in the dark days of gun rights. But I feel that the NRA has somewhat been resting on its laurels. I think the cobwebs need to be dusted off.
Even worse though is I have contacted the Florida Republican Party numerous times and out of the one hundred and fifty plus members that make up the party. Only three…. Yes, THREE FLORIDA REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE MEMBERS have voiced a concern in how a number of Florida Republican Elected Officials year after year kill pro gun legislation. Especially when these Florida Republicans campaign on a Pro-Gun stance. It is sickening to me because I’m a Republican.
This past year has angered me and worse, made me lose faith in what once made my State great. 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. And Florida isn’t the only State where the supposed Pro Gun Elected Officials (both Republican & Democrat) have either blocked or worse passed antigun legislation. So in the end, I will be running for the 2018 Board of Directors for the NRA. I will be at the NRA Show in Atlanta this weekend and I look forward to meeting my fellow NRA members.
The NRA is always called the 800lbs Gorilla. Well, I want that 800lbs Gorilla to be freed from its cage. The gun owning community is changing. More and More Americans of every stripe are wanting to own guns. From Alaska to Florida. From New York to Puerto Rico. From to Guam to Maryland and everywhere in-between. Americans are wanting to exercise their 2nd Amendment Rights. Americans are wanting to be able to carry across State Borders to defend themselves and more importantly, their loved ones. Americans are wanting to be able to carry without a government permission slip. Americans are wanting to be able to own a short barreled rifle or shotgun and have them suppressed. Americans are wanting to be able to own a full automatic and not have to pay $30,000 for it.
I want to give you. My fellow Americans and NRA members a louder voice in government. I want the gun owning community to be able to drown out the enemies of freedom and liberty. I want there to be marches and rally across the country. I want the gun owning community to be able to say in one loud voice. “FREEDOM IS ON THE MOVE!” I want every elected official and bureaucratic paper pusher to know that they work for you and me, the American citizen. And that the regulations and laws that restrict our freedoms are not right or constitutional. I want the international community to learn that Americans will never be disarmed. No matter how many millions of dollars they throw at sinister groups that wish to disarm us. I want to NRA to be stronger and louder than ever.
I started this year as one man… one simple American. But I have been emboldened by you. Why? Because I have seen countless Americans and Gun Owners have their rights violated and restricted. I hear horror stories of what someone has to do to be able to simply own a gun in places like Massachusetts, New York, California, Puerto Rico, Maryland, New Jersey, Chicago, Washington DC, and so many more. I have seen corrupt despotic politicians pass unconstitutional laws that strip fellow gun owners of their legally owned property. I have seen corrupt despotic politicians reinterpret laws in a manner that violates our civil rights and liberties. I have seen law abiding Americans cross over into another state and be arrested for simply having a legally owned gun in their State of origin and suddenly be treated as an armed criminal up to no good when all they’re doing is peaceably driving and they have a burnt out tag light bulb.
I’m no longer one man. I am now the voice for you. I will fight for you and I will not stop. This isn’t an issue about color, race, or religion. This is an issue of Constitutional Rights and ending the violation of said Rights. This isn’t about Florida anymore. This is about the entire Country. I will be at the NRA Show in Atlanta and I look forward to meeting and speaking with as many of you as possible.
TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE THE NRA BETTER, BIGGER, LOUDER, STRONGER, AND GREATER.
I look forward to fighting the good fight and doing it with you, the gun owning community.