Florida has one week left before the 2021 legislative session adjourns on April 30. With a Republican supermajority of 102 lawmakers, you’d think that pro-gun bills would be piling up on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk right now. You’d be wrong.
Even worse, the legislature’s Republicans are trying to pull the wool over gun owners’ eyes.
On April 15, HB 1409 was debated and voted on in the House Judiciary Committee. HB 1409, which would strengthen the state’s preemption law, was introduced by GOP Rep. Cord Byrd and is fully supported by Gun Owners of America.
The basis of the bill is simple. If a political subdivision of the state passes an ordinance that violates state preemption laws, then a person affected by the local gun control ordinance can seek damages by filing a lawsuit. The political subdivision can’t repeal or change the ordinance to make the case moot.
Rep. Byrd’s bill is on its way to a full floor vote in the House since it passed its final committee. But that doesn’t mean Rep. Byrd isn’t due for some criticism. Why?
Because back on March 17, Rep. Byrd said that, as the chair of the House’s Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee, he won’t bring HB 123 (constitutional carry) up for a vote in his committee since it doesn’t have a Senate companion bill.
Yet Gov. Ron DeSantis’ pet project, the anti-riot bill (HB 1), which was just signed into law, had no Senate companion bill either. Yet Rep. Byrd brought that bill up for a vote in his committee. In fact, Byrd’s committee was the first to pass HB 1.
So why are the state’s gun owners angry with Rep. Byrd? Simple. We were lied to.
At first, Byrd stated on February 10 that he might bring up HB 123 at the half way point of the session. When that didn’t happen, I asked him about the bill, and he responded with the excuse that there was no Senate companion bill.
The thing is, no legislation needs to have a companion bill to move forward and Rep. Byrd knows it.
Florida’s Republicans are acting like they work at Disney World. They put a lot of effort into the special effects and costumes to make a world of make-believe seem real.
If they want a bill to move forward, it moves forward. So why is it that so much pro-gun legislation doesn’t seem to move forward? It’s because they really don’t have the will to make it happen.
With the legislative session coming to an end, we need Gov. DeSantis spend some political capital this spring, summer, and fall in calling for a special legislative session. Under the state constitution, the Governor can request a special session for whatever issue he deems important. Making Florida the 21st constitutional carry state is important and the question deserves a vote by the full legislature.
As state Senator Dennis Baxley said a few years ago . . .
Republican Lawmakers don’t support pro-gun legislation because they don’t hear any negative criticism from their constituency. They take the silence of gun owners as approval.
That needs to end.
Luis Valdes is the Florida Director for Gun Owners of America.