Friday, March 09, 2018

Tallahassee Two-step -- Flor-DUH Hack Hicks Nix Meaningful Gun Law Changes -- RECORD EDITORIAL: Florida passes caveat-heavy gun bill

One solution is to restore victims' rights to sue for damages and injunctive relief, erased by Congress in 2005. See my comments, below editorial.

RECORD EDITORIAL: Florida passes caveat-heavy gun bill

Posted at 2:01 AM
St. Augustine Record

he Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act passed both the Senate and House this week and now heads to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk. There it could be passed as is, denied as is, or, the more likely scenario, some parts will be accepted and others will not.

More on that in a moment.

The bill wasn’t what either the gun control or Second Amendment fans might have wanted. The best that can be said of the bill is that it actually became a compromise — something we’ve seen very little of over the past few years as Republicans steamrolled Democratic colleagues, and the Democrats quietly acquiesced.

What the final bill does:

— Raises the age required to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 years.

— Requires a three-day waiting period for a gun purchase.

— Bans the sale of bump stocks that, which in practice, convert a semi-automatic weapon in to one with a fully automatic capability.

— Allows select school personnel to carry weapons in schools, and provides funding for training.

— Provides $300 million in funding for mental health programs, school resource officers, school safety upgrades and more.

The vote was closer than many had expected, 67-50 in the House where both Reps. Cyndi Stevenson and Paul Renner voted “yes” on the bill. In the Senate the vote was 20-18. Sen. Travis Hutson also voted in favor.

It’s uncertain how effective raising the age to purchase a gun will affect the core issue of school safety. If we look at pure mathematics, it will simply put off some guns sales for three years, at which time the former 18-year-olds will be good to go. The numbers won’t change in the long run, they’re simply postponed for 36 months. The law would not apply to law enforcement or active military personnel.

The waiting period is big news — until you read the fine print. Florida has had a three-day waiting period law for years, but that applied only to handguns, not long guns — shotguns and rifles. The new law would include long guns in the waiting period.

But consider the exceptions. There is no waiting period for active military and law enforcement personnel. It also excludes holders of concealed carry permits — about 887,000 in Florida. And it excludes holders of state hunting licenses. We understand why hunters are excluded. But, if you think about it, anyone unable to sidestep the waiting period need only go online in five minutes and receive a hunting license online — which has zero checks on who’s applying.

Currently, the handgun waiting period is waived if the purchaser trades in a gun on the new purchase. We never really understood that — and are uncertain at this point whether or not that will also be true for long guns under the proposed law.

Here’s what the law does not do:

— It does not restrict in any way the purchase or ownership of any firearm.

— It does not restrict high-capacity firearm magazines.

— It does nothing to strengthen background checks on purchasers.

The really big question mark is the arming of school personnel. It’s good the bill includes a minimum of 144 hours of training. But, for the life of us, we can’t figure out why classroom teachers won’t be allowed to carry, but librarians and drama coaches are specifically included in the list of those who can strap on iron. (You, sir. Yes ... you with the gun. Please be quiet; and remember, emote, emote, emote!)

But the big-picture concern for us was well articulated by Paula Wright, chair of the Duval County School Board who wrote: “School Districts cannot handle the liability of the Guardian Program. Florida legislators have taken the Pontius Pilot approach regarding ensuring our children — our most defenseless — are safe. ... They hurriedly passed an ill-advised and ill-equipped plan to say ‘we have acted, and now we wash our hands and transfer all the burden to school districts and sheriffs.’”

We hope Gov. Scott received her message.


Edward Adelbert Slavin
  • Edward Adelbert Slavin
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1. I agree with the Record's prize-worthy editorial, summarizing and skewering legislature's feeble attempt at gun legislation. Viva Jim Sutton! The spirit of Pontius Pilate is alive and well and encumbering legislative seats in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.
2. Our Seventh Amendment right to jury trial is "a bulwark against oppression," as Justice William Rehnquist wrote.
3. Only courts, juries and the tort system will tame arms merchants and their making and marketing mass-killing machines like AR-15s.
4. After tobacco tort litigation and laws, gun-makers panicked. In 2005, NRA and its arms merchant puppet-masters, a/k/a "the Merchants of Death," procured an unAmerican, unconstitutional law, blocking survivors of gun violence victims from 3000+ county courthouse doors--a "Colgate invisible shield," not just against damages, but even injunctive relief!. See Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) codified at 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901-7903. 
5. "An unjust law is no law at all." (Saint Augustine) Let's repeal the unjust law protecting Merchants of Death. Now!
6. Congress must restore your sacred Seventh Amendment rights to sue Merchants of Death for damages and injunctive relief.

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