Earlier today, TTAG published a post by NRA Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer, hammering Florida Carry for torpedoing a Sunshine State open carry bill. Florida Carry offers the following defense of their actions, along with a full frontal assault on America’s oldest civil rights group.
This week, an alert was issued by the National Rifle Association that Florida Carry was “cutting off its nose to spite its face“. It claimed that Florida Carry’s unwillingness to compromise its core values was the reason that we do not have open carry in Florida.
NRA is the nation’s oldest civil rights organization. They were founded in 1871. Florida Carry has only existed since 2011. Who then is responsible for allowing the 1934 passage of a bill allowing the federal government to register and tax Suppressors and automatic firearms?
– Who is responsible for the GCA 1968 that prohibited us from accepting a firearm from a family member across state lines?
– Who is responsible for allowing a ban on certain firearms manufactured after 1986?
– Who is responsible for allowing the passage of the 1994 Clinton Gun Ban?
– Who is responsible for the creation of a flawed and failed instant background check system?
No organization is perfect, and no organization has worked longer than NRA to protect the right to bear arms. In many of the instances just mentioned, the NRA was backed into a corner by the politicians with whom they had to work, and a media that lied. The NRA compromised to protect what they could.
Florida Carry will not criticize another pro-gun civil rights organization because they believe they have a better way of achieving the common goal we all work for. But Florida Carry will also not stand idly by when attacked for opposing a deeply flawed bill and amendment.
Florida Carry makes no apology for its opposition to bills that did nothing to advance the right to bear arms that is the birthright of all free Americans. Compromise can be a wonderful thing that creates a country, or it can be a horrible thing that ruins one.
A compromise between more and less populous states gave us a Constitution that created a house of representatives and a senate, a model followed by all but one state. Compromise also gave us a constitution that allowed slavery to continue in this country for another seventy-five years, and a horrible war to keep the America unified.
For the past seven years, Florida Carry has worked closely and in good faith with the NRA in Tallahassee. We have not always agreed but have recognized that we had a common goal. That is as true today as it was before December 5, and on that day when Florida Carry had to take a stand that it would not compromise and allow its name to be heard in support of a bill that in our analysis, did more harm than good.
It is our hope that after these grievances are addressed we will be able to continue our good working relationship with the NRA.
Not only would the bill have had little practical effect on how inadvertent open carry by concealed carry licensees is treated, it would have resulted in over sixteen thousand Floridians being investigated for even erroneously denied purchases of firearms.
Based on the FBI’s statistics for denied purchases, only a fraction of such denials are cases of known prohibited persons illegally attempting to buy guns through legally licensed dealers. The bill would have caused flawed arrests and launched harmful investigations of sixteen thousand citizens to catch sixteen criminal purchase attempts.
For seven years Florida Carry has offered a compromise– ‘give us licensed open carry’. In reality, the Second Amendment has been understood throughout its entire history to protect the right to unlicensed open carry.
Of all the courts of this country to ever consider the question of unlicensed open carry, only one has ever held that the Second Amendment does not protect unlicensed open carry… the Florida Supreme Court. Florida Carry did not lose the Norman case. A group of liberal activist judges, with a preordained conclusion in mind, changed 226 years of understanding and court precedent that they did not like, and continued Florida’s ban on open carry by ruling that the Florida Constitution does not apply to the Legislature.
On December 5, 2017, another compromise was offered, for Florida Carry to support a bill that did little to restore the right to bear arms, other than to possibly prevent the arrest of law abiding citizens whose handguns became exposed.
The past six years have shown that no matter what laws are passed to prevent arrests for inadvertent exposure of a concealed firearm, anti-gun law enforcement and judges will subvert a law’s intent in order to advance a personal political agenda. Florida Carry chose not to be a part of this failed compromise. It is important to note that while Florida Carry’s opposition to the bill may be claimed as cover by anti-gun politicians, their votes were never going to go to support the right to bear arms.
Florida Carry acted out of a genuine concern for our members and all law-abiding gun owners.
One of the core principles of Florida Carry, and a reason for its founding, is that CWFLs represent allowing the government to turn a right into a licensed privilege. Florida Carry supports the right of all law-abiding citizens to bear arms, not just those who have obtained government permission.
As for the accusation that Florida Carry is responsible for the risk that 1.8 million license holders face if their firearm becomes exposed, the NRA’s email is clear that Florida Carry did not exists when the law was passed in 1987.
How is Florida Carry responsible for a 30-year old law that was passed when one of its founders was only thirteen years old and the other was stationed overseas? Who is responsible for the continued existence of the open carry ban in the twenty-four years prior to 2011 when Florida Carry was formed?
Florida Carry is blamed because its ‘folks’ ” . . . made a barrage of threatening and bullying phone calls to Senators.” There is no evidence to support such an accusation. To suggest that Florida Carry is responsible when a person is rude to a legislator using its name, is directly contrary to the NRA’s own position when a person claims that should be listened to on “common sense gun laws” because they are a NRA member.
As the NRA is quick to point out anyone can claim to be a NRA member and membership does not mean they speak for the organization. Since NRA’s email against Florida Carry we have received a number of such emails, it seems that Florida Carry does not have an exclusive on self proclaimed supporters who lack decorum.
To blame Florida Carry for opposing a bad bill that was not going anywhere to begin with was uncalled for. In truth, the bill that the National Rifle Association is criticizing Florida Carry for opposing, did nothing to get rid of Florida’s current ban on the open carry of Rifles or any other firearm.
As we approach the 226th anniversary of the Second Amendment on December 15 2017, ask yourself what the right to bear arms means. Ask if a refusal to accept half measures is the mark of an organization, or an organization with a true core of beliefs.
A core of beliefs it will not compromise on as it continues to fight for the rights of its members.
About Florida Carry
Florida Carry, Inc, is a nonprofit, non-partisan, grassroots organization dedicated to advancing the fundamental civil right of all Floridians to keep and bear arms for self defense. Their website is www.FloridaCarry.org.