The current Florida legislative session adjourns on April 30. Republicans hold a 24-16 majority in the Senate and a 78-42 majority in the House. Given those margins and the current climate in the country, you might think that pro-gun rights bills would be flying through the legislature (or that Capitol would be open to the people). You’d be wrong.
Despite the state having some of the lowest Covid-related restrictions in the country, no one can enter the capitol to meet with their lawmakers to voice their concerns since the Republican leadership has decided to keep it closed…even though they love to advertise the state as being open.
They also have a number of pro-gun bills that are stalled and worse, they’re throwing crumbs at gun rights supporters and expect us to be happy about it.
One such example is HM 1301, which was heard and debated in the House Judiciary Committee on Monday.
The text states the measure is . . .
Expressing the consensus of the Florida Legislature that the President’s proposals to restrict the right to keep and bear arms of law-abiding citizens violates the Constitution; provides Florida Legislature, on behalf of the residents of this state, intends to use all of its lawful authority and power to resist or overturn any federal gun-control measure that violates the right of Florida residents to keep and bear arms.
They want it to appear that the Republican-majority legislature is fighting for responsible gun owners in the Sunshine State, especially after President Biden’s rambling about further restrictions of Americans’ gun rights. Well, that isn’t the case.
In reality, Florida’s Republicans are acting like they’re running Disney World. They put a lot of time and effort into the special effects and costumes to make a world of make-believe you see seems real.
For starters, HM 1301, which was introduced by Rep. Jason Shoaf (R), is a House Memorial, not a bill. There is a big difference. If passed, a bill carries the force of law. A memorial is the method by which the state legislature addresses or petitions the federal Congress to air a grievance and nothing more. It’s meaningless.
So if HM 1301 passes, the Republicans in the state legislature will have written what amounts to an angry letter to Congress about Biden’s gun control push…and nothing more. This is what the legislature would rather spend its time on than bills that would actually protect or advance gun rights in the state.
Yet even this piece of legislative do-nothingism was hotly debated and contested in committee. Republicans and Democrats argued and flung mud at each other as if this bill actually had teeth.
This is how the Republicans in the Florida legislature are spending the precious few weeks they have left. They wasting time on “pro gun” virtue signaling rather than advancing constitutional carry (HB 123) or a true Second Amendment sanctuary bill (HB 1205).
So GOA was there and we made sure to specifically point this out for them. As GOA’s Florida state director, my job is to amplify gun owners’ voices at the capitol, and let them know that HM 1301 is nothing but an insult to the state’s gun owners.
At the Judiciary Committee hearing on HM 1301, Rep. Cord Byrd (R) who also chairs the House’s Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee, was in attendance. That’s the subcommittee where HB 1205 and HB 123 are currently stalled.
I pointed that HB 1205 is bill they should be passing, not the fakery they’re pushing. It’s a true Second Amendment sanctuary bill with actual teeth. If HB 1205 were passed, state and local law enforcement officers who enforce Biden’s gun control meausres would be held personally liable as they’d be stripped of their qualified immunity and could be sued as an individual.
But Rep. Byrd’s has chosen, as committee chair, not move the bill forward. This is the same Rep. Byrd who, as a lawyer, advertises his legal practice as one that’s centered on Second Amendment rights and firearms related issues.
Byrd claims he’s not advancing the bill because there’s no Senate companion bill. The truth is far simpler. The bill isn’t moving because House Speaker Chris Sprowls doesn’t want it to, and Rep. Byrd is following those orders.
Utah, Iowa, Montana and Tennessee have all passed constitutional carry bills in their legislatures and signed them into law this year. But Florida, with 102 Republican lawmakers holding a supermajority, can’t even advance its bill out of committee.
It’s appalling where Florida is under the current leadership. Constitutional Carry and the Second Amendment sanctuary bill face uphill battles if they’re going to pass this session.
Luis Valdes is the Florida Director for Gun Owners of America.