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COLUMN

Happytown

The week in which we hopped into an unregulated bed with heavy firearms, lamented the state's environmental time machine and then hoped we died before we got old. Talkin' 'bout our (lost) generation!

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Strap on your holsters and grease up your shotguns, Bessie, because the Old West is coming on down to the (relatively) new east! On Dec. 1, everyone’s favorite 10 gallons of redneckery, Gov. Rick Scott, moseyed his way into Osceola County for a down home announcement with explosive repercussions. Seems that Scott was able to broker a deal with none other than the 175-year-old violence machine known as Colt (like the .45-caliber revolver, not the beer … oh, wait), which will soon be expanding its operations to include a regional headquarters and a manufacturing plant in the state that most resembles a gun. Pow! Pow!

“As a supporter of new job creation and the Second Amendment, this announcement sends the clear message that Florida is both open for business and a defender of our rightto bear arms,” Scott fired off in a press release while presumably chewing on a piece of hay.

Damn straight! The news comes on the spurred heels of three ridiculous new gun laws enacted just this year: one that protects gun owners who accidentally reveal their firearms; one that renders local governments impotent in imposing their own gun restrictions; and one that prevents doctors from quizzing their patients on whether they have guns with which to kill themselves.Florida is gun country!

Beyond the leathery National Rifle Association stench of righteousness, Colt’s move to Florida packs a more concerning heat. The state will subsidize the move with your tax dollars to the whistled-Dixie tuneof $1.6 million, with $250,000 of that coming from the governor’s super-secret slush fund known as the Quick Action Closing Fund. The upshot of that, allegedly, is that the move will bring 63 jobs with average salaries of $45,000 a year. (Also, a possible gun museum tourist attraction? Yikes.) The reality, however, is that none of that will likely be regulated, even though the governor promises that should the gun-toting Colt company not come through, “then we’ll get the money back,” according to the Associated Press. Us and what army?

Anyway, we were surprised to see that Democrat State Rep. Darren Soto of Orlando (and parts of Osceola County) was cheering on the sidelines at the deal; Soto spent part of the same day at a legislative delegation meeting at the University of Central Florida calling for more regulation of economic development monies. He even juxtaposed the two events in a Facebook post without a trace of irony! But Soto isn’t some lily-livered liberal, see. He’s been endorsed by the NRA and has accordingly walked in controversial lockstep with the Second Amendment brigade on such issues as being allowed to bring your guns to work with you and show them off at your leisure, chambers of commerce and National Retail Federation concerns be damned.

“My general politics on the Second Amendment is that it’s there. It’s in the Constitution, and I swore that I’d uphold it,” he says, adding, “I’ve never fired a gun in my life. I’m not a particular fan of guns.”

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