In Florida, there is an obsession with guns – there are more than one million concealed weapons in the state. The popularity of active concealed weapons permits has surged in the past 10 years.
During the 2014 legislative session, the Florida House approved HB209, which would legalize unlicensed firearms possession during mandatory evacuations in declared states of emergency. This bill makes no sense because it encourages criminal behavior and black market gun transactions. But in a state where an individual can be gunned down for walking to a store, any bill about guns is possible.
The gun supporters and advocates in the state think this is a great bill because, in an emergency, they believe, the local and county police are not able to control the criminals. Even though the Florida Sheriffs Association has come out against the bill in committee hearings, the pro-gun folks still do not trust them to do their jobs. They would prefer a Wild West scenario, where everyone shoots first and ask questions later.
The first question that law-abiding citizens should ask is: How can a Floridian have an unlicensed firearm? Are the NRA and United Sportsmen of Florida proposing that Floridians should own licensed and unlicensed firearms?
The law is absolutely ridiculous but most gun supporters and owners argue that citizens of the United States have the right to keep and bear arms and the government does not have the right to know what kind and how many guns citizens own.
As gun rights and gun advocates continue to lobby with the NRA, where are the gun control supporters? The NRA is always thrilled when a gun law is passed by the Legislature because it means more gun sales and profits and higher donations for the organization.
At this point, the NRA owns the Legislature and Florida officials, having bought them off with tens of thousands of dollars in contributions. They also have convinced the good-old-boys that President Obama and gun control advocates are trying to take their guns away. Many Floridians have been taught at an early age how to shoot a gun and they become paranoid over the thought that someone wants to control their gun ownership.
In Florida, a large majority of the residents do not believe there should be any discussion about gun control and any gun law allowing for more guns is a good law. When gun control organizations talk about banning assault weapons, gun advocates only hear banning all guns. The two sides are talking a different language but they must learn how to talk to each other.
HB 209 is a terrible law and gun advocates must tell the truth about it. It is time for law-abiding citizens to mobilize and stop the insanity in Florida. Allowing unlicensed guns on the street during an emergency is a prescription for disaster and death with assault weapons and other guns.
Roger Caldwell, a community activist, author, journalist, radio host and CEO of On Point Media Group, lives in Orlando. His book, The Inspiring Journey of a Stroke Survivor, details the story of his recovery from a massive stroke. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org