Broward News

NRA Says the Florida Sheriffs Association Has Declared War on Second Amendment

A bill that would've allowed people to walk around with concealed guns -- even if they do not have concealed weapons permits -- during riots or natural disasters was killed in the Florida Legislature last week.

And the NRA is upset.

Had it passed, SB 296 would have made it cool for anyone -- even a person without a concealed weapons permit, so long as he or she had a clean criminal history -- to carry a concealed weapon during riots or natural disasters that require immediate evacuation.

The bill was so controversial that one senator filed a "zombie apocalypse" amendment to the bill as a sarcastic way of showing how ridiculous he thought it was to begin with.

Specifically, the bill says a person may carry a concealed firearm on or about his person "while in the act of evacuating during a mandatory evacuation order declared by the Governor pursuant to chapter 252 or declared by a local authority pursuant to chapter 870."

The Florida Sheriffs Association helped kill the bill.

The bill had passed the House last month by a vote of 80-36, but Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri called it "insane." Trying to keep the peace during a stressful and chaotic emergency evacuation would likely be more difficult if more people were running around with guns, and besides, as written, the proposed law would have been difficult to enforce.

So Gualtieri worked with Republican Sen. Jack Latvala to add an amendment that would have limited the exemption for concealed weapons permits to 24 hours as well as remove the exemption once the gun owner reached his destination after evacuating. The amendment would make it clearer for officers to enforce this law, the sheriff said.

But this ultimately killed the bill, as the original sponsor Sen. Jeff Brandes, disapproved of the amendment of giving people 24 hours.

"[The amendment] makes it a felony if you're a minute late after the evacuation," Brandes said, per the Miami Herald. "It makes the bill anti-Second Amendment. It defeats the whole purpose."

The NRA sent out a legislative alert saying that the Florida Sheriffs Association has declared war on the Second Amendment.

"Be perfectly clear," the statement reads. "This was a straight up Second Amendment issue in its purest form. And the Florida Sheriffs Association opposed your fundamental individual right to keep and bear arms at a time when you most need to be able to protect yourself and your family.

"Sheriffs repeatedly made it clear that the only thing they cared about was their convenience," the NRA statement reads.

From the NRA Alert:

Rhetorical questions like,

"How are we supposed to know who has guns?" "How are we supposed to know if people are legally in possession of guns?" "How are we supposed to know they are actually evacuating?" "How are we supposed to know when we shine flashlights in cars and see guns that they are legal?" -- made it clear it was all about what they wanted and not about the rights and needs of the people they were elected to serve. They also made it clear, they prefer to presume you are a criminal rather than an honest citizen trying to protect your family and your property.

The NRA statement goes on to list the senators who backed the bill, or, as they put it, the "TRUE Second Amendment Supporters who voted to protect your rights," and those who killed the bill.

"Sometimes you need to lose in order to identify the real enemy," the NRA statement says. "This was one of those times."

A Florida Statute says that when emergency is declared, a person is automatically prohibited from "the intentional possession in a public place of a firearm by any person, except a duly authorized law enforcement official or person in military service acting in the official performance of her or his duty."

Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph. Follow Chris Joseph on Twitter

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph