Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

We have 102 Republicans in office in Florida between the House and the Senate — a supermajority in both chambers. And yet we can count the pro-gun bills that have been introduced so far on a single hand. These lawmakers campaign on a pro-Second Amendment platform, but once they arrive in Tallahassee, they suffer from a convenient case of amnesia.

We need Governor Ron DeSantis (R) to use the power of his office to force votes on critical pro-gun reform legislation. This could make a huge difference to help us get pro-gun legislation passed.

I recall in 2018, Gov. DeSantis — then a candidate for office — attended the Republican Party of Florida’s Sunshine Summit, and he openly stated that if he were Governor at the time, he’d have vetoed SB 7026. SB 7026 was the post-Parkland gun control legislation that the Republican supermajority rammed through and former Governor (now Senator) Rick Scott signed into law.

The knee-jerk legislation made purchase of a firearm by anyone under 21 illegal. It pushed red flag laws to destroy the Second Amendment by crushing the Fourth Amendment and curb-stomping due process. It mandated a statewide waiting period for firearm purchases and instituted ban on firearm accessories that “increase the rate of fire” that’s so vaguely written, it can basically target anything including a 3.5-pound competition trigger connector for a GLOCK. 

As a Florida gun owner, I want to see Gov. DeSantis to use his office as a bully pulpit to support important pro-gun legislation. Just this week, Gov. DeSantis sent out an email stating that he’s not a “normal Republican.” That’s a good thing if true because the past decade has shown that many of Florida’s “normal Republicans” have been huge disappointments.

They’ve voted anti-gun and have squandered the supermajority they hold instead of using it to pass worthwhile legislation like constitutional carry. The Florida Republicans we have in the legislature have instead killed pro-gun legislation in committee year after year — and worse, they have helped pass anti-gun legislation.

So when Gov. DeSantis says he isn’t a “normal Republican,” I say “Thank goodness!” I’m tired and I know a lot of my fellow Floridians are tired of “normal Republicans” who are slicing and dicing our gun rights. We need a leader in Tallahassee who will whip them into shape (politically speaking, of course).

Unfortunately, the man who authored that post-Parkland gun control is currently sitting at the Senate President’s desk. Sen. Wilton Simpson (R) authored SB 7026 in the push to DO SOMETHING after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

He plays legislative dictator, deciding what bills go where, and putting pressure on lawmakers on what they will introduce.

The same is happening in the House. This past week, I spoke before the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee to push for better gun laws in Florida. 

Afterward, I spoke personally with the subcommittee’s chair, Rep. Cord Byrd (R) and asked him about the status of the other pro-gun bills. I asked him because the subcommittee is where many pro-gun bills are currently parked.

Rep. Byrd told me that he might — might — put those bills on the committee’s agenda for a vote in March. But that’s only if he gets the blessing from Talahassee’s other legislative dictator, House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R). My sources in the Capitol tell me that Speaker Sprowls wants all of the pro-gun legislation to wither on the vine.  

It currently appears that HB 259, the Religious Institution Carry Bill, is the only bill that’s currently moving and its Senate companion bill is heading to a committee chaired by a freshman Democrat.

Who allowed a Democrat to chair the committee in a Senate dominated by Republicans? None other than Senate President Simpson. As the head of the Senate, he decides who chairs committees. Why then is a freshman Democrat Senator chairing a committee when there is a Republican supermajority in the legislature?

Simple…the Florida capitol is a legislative dictatorship.

The Religious Institution Carry bill represents only a very minor improvement in the current law. With Republican supermajorities in each chamber, Florida should be passing MULTIPLE pro-gun bills that greatly improve gun laws for all Floridians. Bills that advance causes like campus carry, open carry, and constitutional carry. Bills that make the Sunshine State a Second Amendment sanctuary state.

As Floridians, we should be excelling in defending our 2A rights, yet for the past decade we have been falling behind. Our state was once known as the “Gunshine State.” We were proud in being proactive in expanding the Second Amendment rights of Floridians.

The arguments that the gun-grabbers have made against expanded gun rights have been proven false. Forty-five states have open carry and 17 now have constitutional carry. These states also tend to have the lowest crime rates in the country.

It appears that currently, there is only one true constitutionally minded pro-gun Republican in the Florida Legislature and that’s Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R).

I know this because I’ve sat down with the man in person.

Luis Valdes, GOA FL State Director, meeting FL Rep. Sabatini for Constitutional Carry on Jan. 27, 2021.

But currently, Rep. Sabatini’s pro-gun bills — constitutional carry, campus carry, and the repeal of the ban of ammo/gun sales during declared states of emergencyare languishing in the House in the very subcommittee that Rep. Byrd chairs. Rep. Byrd won’t move forward without the blessing of Speaker Sprowls and Sprowls doesn’t appear to be interested. So we see Republicans either stonewalling pro-gun bills or outright backing gun control legislation.

The real problem? Some Republican lawmakers believe that gun owners’ votes can be taken for granted. It’s the old game of the lesser of two evils. They assume gun owners won’t vote for anti-gun Democrats, so they can be ignored or abused.  

You can see this in the party’s leadership. Sen. Joe Gruters is currently the chair of the Republican Party of Florida and he voted in favor of the Parkland bill. You’d think that the head of the RPOF would be pro-gun and would have a voting record that is pro-gun. You’d think that the RPOF would be pressuring its members in the House and Senate to introduce pro-gun legislation since that’s what they actually campaign on. But you’d be wrong. 

That’s not what I’m seeing this legislative session, however, and it it’s not what I haven’t seen over the past decade.

Here is the voting record from 2018 on SB 7026, the post-Parkland gun control bill.

All three members of Republican leadership voted to restrict Floridians’ gun rights. And that’s what needs to change. 

These legislators need to hear from Florida’s gun owners. And if they won’t advance pro-gun legislation, they need to know they will be primaried.

Gov. DeSantis says he isn’t a “normal Republican” and that he will “never back down from a fight.” Great! He still needs to be reminded that he campaigned that he would defend our Second Amendment rights. He needs to be urged to use his office as a bully pulpit to pressure Republican lawmakers in the legislature to pass meaningful pro-gun legislation that will benefit all Floridians.

 

Luis Valdes is the Florida Director for Gun Owners of America. 

 

59 COMMENTS

  1. Wha, wha, wha….

    The answer is simple….the Repubicrats see the future coming, and they want to be well thought of in order to retain their positions, and be re-elected.

    • To maintain the pretense of democracy, you do need a token, but ineffectual, opposition.

      Or they just have chronic cranial rectal inversion.

  2. They’re ALL pro constitution and bill of rights till about five minutes after they’re sworn in!! Not held accountable, that’s the problem, that and the voter’s amnesia in the next election.

  3. DeSantis uses the language of a strong defender, but there’s a difference between one who defends, and one who advances.

  4. Drake and Gainer voted no…. solid support.

    How do we help the solid Pro-gun folks to leverage the RINOs to vote Pro Gun?

    Skeletor led the charge with hand-wringing and “do something” rhetoric after parkland.

    DeSantis needs to lead in promoting pro gun legislation. It may force some of the anti-constituion Republicans to grow some cods.

    Needs to be done now. With the infestation of fleeing New Yorkers, gun control cancer will be spreading soon.

    • DeSantis needs to publicly call for the offenders to be primaried, because that is the only solution, they need to be identified and eliminated. By name. Specifically. And I would be donating from Texas.

  5. The RINOs do what they do because it works for them politically. How many come from districts that would replace them with Democrats if they were real Republicans? GOA might be able to pick one and get rid of him by strongly supporting a pro-gun candidate in the primary. However, that might just hand the seat over to the Democrats in the election.

    • If they are campaigning for Democrat votes, let them run as Democrats. *WE* need to be able to define what we are voting for, and generally speaking there is more to that than simply someone who claims to be a “republican”.

  6. Like so many other states we all suffer from what is called the “normal Republicans”. They just give lip service to the 2nd Amendment. We do not need these normal Republicans in our 2nd Amendment community to progress our cause. We suffer at the state and federal levels from these normal Republicans for decades now and have nothing to show for it. They are just in it for the money and to get re-elected the next election cycle. We need to vote in people that really believe in the our 2nd Amendment.

    Normal Republicans = no progress on the 2nd Amendment. Just look at what was squandered the first 2 years of Trump, 8 years under Bush 2, 4 years under the first Bush 1, 8 years under Reagan, and 4 years under Ford. We got 2 semi-auto import bans, which became permanent under Bush 1, and Reagan with no advances to our 2nd Amendment cause and the same for Trump.

    Do not forget that the Assault Weapons Ban in 1994 passed Congress with a narrow vote of 216-214 with a lot of so called normal Republicans supporting it.

    https://www.nytimes.com/1989/07/08/us/import-ban-on-assault-rifles-becomes-permanent.html
    http://www.davekopel.com/2A/Mags/George-Bush-and-the-NRA.htm
    https://www.thoughtco.com/gun-rights-under-president-ronald-reagan-721343
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/03/02/before-trump-defied-the-nra-ronald-reagan-took-on-the-gun-lobby
    https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1994-05-05-mn-54185-story.html

    If you run for election as a Republican you should pass these 5 tests,
    1. Do you believe in what the 2nd Amendment says?
    2. Do you exercise your 2nd Amendment rights?
    3. Do you belong to a pro-2nd Amendment organization? Which one?
    4. Do you own a firearms?
    5. Do you actively shoot those firearms?
    If, they say no to any of these 4 do not vote for them.

    TTAG should run some articles on these ex-Presidents on the anti-2nd Amendment stands.

  7. Gov. and President Reagan this is his legacy with support for the 2nd Amendment.

    As Gov. of California, Reagan signed the Mulford Act which prohibited the carrying of firearms on your person, in your vehicle and in any public place.
    As Gov. of Cal. Reagan signed off on a 15-day waiting period for guns.
    As president he signed into law a ban on ownership of fully automatic rifles.
    After leaving the presidency he supported the Brady Bill which provided for a 7-day waiting period for guns.
    In 1994 he wrote Congress supporting a ban on assault rifles.

    http://samuel-warde.com/2013/01/ronald-reagan-gun-rights-myth-debunked

    http://samuel-warde.com/2013/01/ronald-reagan-gun-rights-myth-debunked

    • Bullshit. There is not, and never has been, a federal prohibition on the ownership of automatic rifles, signed by Reagan or anyone else. There are many places in the US (including Nevada, BTW) where you can rent and fire machine guns to your heart’s content. You can also buy them in many states, if not most, if you have lots of money. Also, Reagan was an actor, meaning most of his convictions were inspired by Democrats, he was no fine example of a Republican.

  8. Like so many other states we all suffer from what is called the “normal Republicans”. They just give lip service to the 2nd Amendment. We do not need these normal Republicans in our 2nd Amendment community to progress our cause. We suffer at the state and federal levels from these normal Republicans for decades now and have nothing to show for it. They are just in it for the money and to get re-elected the next election cycle. We need to vote in people that really believe in the our 2nd Amendment.

    Normal Republicans = no progress on the 2nd Amendment. Just look at what was squandered the first 2 years of Trump, 8 years under Bush 2, 4 years under the first Bush 1, 8 years under Reagan, and 4 years under Ford. We got 2 semi-auto import bans, which became permanent under Bush 1, and Reagan with no advances to our 2nd Amendment cause and the same for Trump.

    Do not forget that the Assault Weapons Ban in 1994 passed Congress with a narrow vote of 216-214 with a lot of so called normal Republicans supporting it.

    https://www.nytimes.com/1989/07/08/us/import-ban-on-assault-rifles-becomes-permanent.html
    http://www.davekopel.com/2A/Mags/George-Bush-and-the-NRA.htm
    https://www.thoughtco.com/gun-rights-under-president-ronald-reagan-721343
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/03/02/before-trump-defied-the-nra-ronald-reagan-took-on-the-gun-lobby
    https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1994-05-05-mn-54185-story.html
    http://samuel-warde.com/2013/01/ronald-reagan-gun-rights-myth-debunked

    TTAG should run some articles on these ex-Presidents on their anti-2nd Amendment support.

  9. Hahaha… As a native Floridian, I partially disagree on the basis of defending the good name of my home turf. There are still many of us here who are attempting to maintain and strengthen FL’s reputation as the “Gunshine” state. Unfortunately, we seem to accumulate a lot of filth from blue states here. I guess a good wipe and flush is required every so often to keep things fresh and tidy.

    • How do the Republicrats, the rhino anti gun rights maintain their lock on Florida Republican party? We have had each term, we had negron, galvano, now the new set of dictators, and they set up the committees and schedule so the bills don’t even make it to the floor. Other than the Parkland bill. Nothing else gets through. It is frustrating, these Republicans are no friends to us.

  10. Like so many other states we all suffer from what is called the “normal Republicans”. They just give lip service to the 2nd Amendment. We do not need these normal Republicans in our 2nd Amendment community to progress our cause. We suffer at the state and federal levels from these normal Republicans for decades now and have nothing to show for it. They are just in it for the money and to get re-elected the next election cycle. We need to vote in people that really believe in the our 2nd Amendment.

    Normal Republicans = no progress on the 2nd Amendment. Just look at what was squandered the first 2 years of Trump, 8 years under Bush 2, 4 years under the first Bush 1, 8 years under Reagan, and 4 years under Ford. We got semi-auto import bans, which became permanent under Bush 1, and Reagan automatic firearms ban. with no advances to our 2nd Amendment cause and the same for Trump.

    Do not forget that the Assault Weapons Ban in 1994 passed Congress with a narrow vote of 216-214 with a lot of so called normal Republicans supporting it.

    https://www.nytimes.com/1989/07/08/us/import-ban-on-assault-rifles-becomes-permanent.html
    http://www.davekopel.com/2A/Mags/George-Bush-and-the-NRA.htm
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/03/02/before-trump-defied-the-nra-ronald-reagan-took-on-the-gun-lobby

  11. Hello my name is Democ Publican, I shall make it all better, more free stuff, better health care, better education, lower taxes, more vaccines, older whiskey, faster cars , younger women, anything you want you got it. Vote for me or dont. And when elected I promise not to keep any promise.

  12. Sorry, I did not see my post earlier. It took too long to appear and I thought there was a problem with it and repeated the posts in smaller sections. I’ll try not to do this again. The new system is a lot slower than the older one.

    • My posts seem to appear almost instantly, I have noticed no difference in speed, just don’t like the appearance. Others?

  13. Last thing Florida needs i more commie gun control. The only reason to disarm a man is because you intend to do something he would shoot you for. That said pry them from my cold dead hands.

  14. Three things that explain why Republicans continually lose ground for their constituents, in order:

    They believe in the same big-government socialism that animates the Democrats; they’re just a little less animated about it.
    They’re politicians, and all politicians suck. Getting reelected and benefiting from the insider network are always top priority — and the insider network is comprised entirely of champagne socialists (cf. point #1).
    To the extent that they are motivated to protect and expand liberty, they’re handicapped by the fact that expanding freedom would require repealing a LOT of legislation, which is much harder to undo than to create; and by the fact that liberty is defined mostly by an *absence* of regulation (i.e., government-imposed restrictions), which makes it highly vulnerable to encroachment.

  15. “Three things that explain why Republicans continually lose ground for their constituents, in order:”

    Seems the most probable cause of failure is the constituency.

    • Could be. I vote against the incumbent Republican every time in the primary, but even in that small pool, my vote doesn’t seem to matter.

      That could be because we have a really solid Republican representative in my district (plays the game well and doesn’t seem to be a socialist-lite). Or it could be that the voting public just doesn’t know how to recognize something better than the establishment crap we’ve always been stuck with. I dunno.

  16. After the 2016 election, I was finally proven to that there is essentially no real, serious difference between a Republican and a Democrat. I was a registered Republican, officially on my 18th Birthday, when I walked in a registered to vote in ’88. I was a Young Republican, supported many Republican politicians, helped in election campaigns, and believed in what the party stood for. After watching how the Republican leadership acted and did everything in their power to hold back President Trump, shortly after he was elected, and watching for years prior as they never seemed to stand up to any opposition against them or their desired policies, it became very apparent they were no different than any Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, or any other registered political party holding any position in office.
    I have been a Registered NO AFFILIATION ever since. Democrat or Republican, they are all in it for the same reason. Power and money. Once they reach office, there isn’t any one of them that are there for anything or anyone but themselves.

    • I would have to respectfully disagree. I believe Donald Trump was exactly what he appeared to be and exactly what he claimed to be. Otherwise, spot on. And Trump was the best demonstration that other Republicans were just Democrats in camo, and vice-versa. Seen one professional politician, you’ve seen ’em all.

  17. Republican voters are dull normal at best. Sensing something was wrong, they literally worshipped a man who got more gun control through than Obama, simply because he was a nationalist/populist. All bark, no bite.

    Now in Florida you have 40 senators for 21 million people, many of whom are dull normal at best. Nothing pro gun is ever moving in Tallahassee. Period.

    • No one literally worshipped President Trump. What DID happen is that finally 72mil + voters finally believed that someone spoke for them.

      Don’t let ‘perfect’ be the enemy of good I say. President Trump did much good. Things that the voters wanted. Now, we’re back to bowing to other nations especially China. Russia was never the enemy as ‘the swamp’ said, it’s always been China.

      • Nah, trust me, The USSR was the enemy until Reagan called their bluffs in the ’80s. I was getting weekly TS briefings at the time, they were the enemy, and China was very close to the stone age, no threat to anybody they could not walk a hundred million farmers to.

    • Trump appointed a slew of judges that are pro-2nd Amendment and did more for the country than GWB, and he beat the heck out of Hillary Clinton. He was not perfect but he was better than anything the Republocrats have given us in 30 years, and were Trump sitting in the white house today there would be a chance of finding ammo on the shelves, and we wouldn’t be afraid of executive orders banning imports and such. Your TDS is showing. Trump was the first President since JFK to make any move against the swamp, and we all know how that worked out for JFK. Trump was lucky they only stole the election from him.

  18. With Republican supermajorities in each chamber, Florida should be passing MULTIPLE pro-gun bills that greatly improve gun laws for all Floridians. Bills that advance causes like campus carry, open carry, and constitutional carry. Bills that make the Sunshine State a Second Amendment sanctuary state.

    None of those will ever happen for a very simple reason: Florida’s multi-billion dollar international tourism industry. That multi-billion dollar international tourism industry wants no part of anything that increases firearm exposure to their tourists — many (most?) of whom come from strident anti-rights locales such as the Chicago and Boston-Washington D.C. Megalopolises and all of Europe. Why should that industry risk one single tourism dollar on expanded firearm rights?

    Unless pro-rights advocates in Florida can unequivocally prove that expanded firearm rights is guaranteed to increase tourism revenue, Florida’s tourism industry will ensure that nothing passes which expands our rights.

    • Battlefield Las Vegas does quite well for itself, gun tourism is a thing and with the number of international travelers going to Disney World I bet you could do something similar to Battlefield Las Vegas in Florida and make a good amount of money doing it. Hell it’d be nice to go there as a red blooded American male after a few days of wandering the parks at Disney World with the wife and kids.

      • De Facto,

        Sure, Florida’s multi-billion dollar international tourism industry would probably tolerate a handful of shooting ranges tailored to tourists. What Florida’s international tourism industry would oppose, however, is widespread expansion of firearm rights — especially open carry. (We can’t have open carriers frightening tourists on the streets, parks, beaches, pools, and restaurants, now can we?)

        • Tourists regularly assume an OC is an undercover cop and think nothing of it. That fear is manufactured by the antis, does not actually exist.

        • LarryinTX,

          If the open carrier was dressed in business casual or a dress shirt and tie (and whatever the equivalent would be for a woman), some tourists might assume that.

          I was dressed nicely and exiting a hardware store while open carrying — and holding my 5-year old child in my arms — when I stopped to hold the door open for another patron who happened to be following me out. I was pleasant, polite, and had positive facial expression. His facial expression was neutral at first and then he saw my handgun on my hip. He recoiled in horror (a look of total dread came over his face), backed up two steps away from me, and would not come forward to exit the store. After a few awkward seconds, I smiled and exited to walk to my car. He waited to exit the store until I was getting into my car. I don’t think he would have acted that way if he assumed that I was an undercover or plain-clothes law enforcement officer.

  19. The blame lies with Marrion Hammer. For over a decade she slept and allowed anti-gun politicians to advance without question, so long as she got kickbacks.

  20. Florida Republicans aren’t RINOs. However, too many of FL Republicans are the same stripe of Florida cracker that enacted gun control to keep those uppity n****** in their place. Only now, WE are the ones that they want to keep in our place.

    Pretty ironic considering that FL is a stand your ground state and my place is wherever I say it is.

  21. Republicans hate guns too, unfortunately the majority of the people on TTAG would rather hide their heads in the sand than face facts. At least you can find a pro gun one every now and then unlike the Democrats.

  22. I voted absentee from all over the world, never missed an election during my career. All R. Then 20 years or so ago the R party left me; values finally shifted over the line of acceptance. That, coupled with inaction, turn the other cheek, and be gentlemanly while getting their ass kicked made me re-register. Been an I (here in Fl “no affiliation”) ever since. Closest to the Rs, but definitely not an R. I expect nothing from the Rs because that is their basic trend. I see nothing I can do other than support groups that think like I do and are grass roots (life GOA and others), not DC power based. And at my age it’s pretty much an I’m-too-old-for-this-shit situation. Now let me go prep for yet another damned surgery.

  23. You’re delusional if you think either party cares about your 2A rights.
    Your ability to arm yourself is a threat to their continued employment as career politicians.

    • While that is true beyond a doubt, one party has historically been willing to accept those risks with a smile, and it is not the one which is now attempting to convert D.C. into a police state.

  24. When will the anti gun advocates realize it’s not the gun that kills it is the person holding the gun. When has anybody seen a gun jump off a table and start shooting. If guns are taken away from law abiding citizens we can’t defend ourselves or our families but the criminals will have their guns to harm us. Wake up America hitler did the same took away guns and started killing innocent people.

  25. “When will the anti gun advocates realize it’s not the gun that kills it is the person holding the gun.”

    You are talking gibberish to the anti-gunners. Their logic is more convoluted: if no one has guns, no one can kill large numbers of other persons. Remove the gun (tool), and you remove the killing. Remove the person, and another crazy will step into the gap.

    From there, it is an easy walk to, “Remove all weapons, and nobody dies”.

  26. Most of the time, politicians reflect the views and wishes of their constituents If they don’t, they don’t get re-elected. What has happened in the last 40 years is that a large number of liberal, anti-gun ‘Karens’ have moved into previously Conservative states and changed the demographics and voting patterns thru sheer numbers. That happened in Montana and Colorado in the ’80’s. Most recently, it has been happening in Virginia, North Carolina, Texas and Florida. These, mostly urban/suburban dwellers have never been exposed to the ‘good’ side of gun ownership or hunting and have no use for guns. They reflect that in whom they vote for. Virginia is probably the most striking example of how fast that switch occurred.

  27. “I don’t think he would have acted that way if he assumed that I was an undercover or plain-clothes law enforcement officer.”

    Despite all the years of discussing open carry, here, I was just reminded of my one and only encounter with a citizen open carrying. It got my attention, and concern. The reason was it was totally unexpected (unusual, rare, out of the ordinary), and the man had his very small daughter with him. After initial surprise, my thought was that is seemed kinda risky for the man to have a gun on his hip (open top leather holster), while tending to a child. Thought about all sorts of dangers for both, should the man be required to deploy his handgun.

    Guess I would still react the same should similar happen today.

    And no, I do not oppose open carry.

  28. Change is slow. Some pro gun organization that’s local and knows the territory will need to assess the better of the possibilities for change, pick two or three and then start making noise. I don’t understand the tourism industry as a problem shying away from gun control. I only visit states that are gun friendly as the crime is less. Pushing this stat might help.

  29. Politicians on both sides are all alike, in that they see no need to serve votes that are already “in the bag”. The Democrats served the Women’s Rights (abortion) until they had them in the bag. Now Women’s Rights are being ignored for Trans Rights. Republicans pay lip service to the Second Amendment, ’cause where else are we going to go? We need to Primary these RINO bastards out of office, even at the risk of loosing the seat to a Dem. Better the enemy you know than backstabbing “allies”.

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