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News & Features

Our Dumb State, Vol. 9

Shoot first, cry later

Photo: James Heimer, License: N/A

James Heimer

Alas, reason prevailed, when, just three months after being signed, the bill was blocked by a federal judge after pediatricians and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence sued.
"A practitioner who counsels a patient on firearm safety, even when entirely irrelevant to medical care or safety, does not affect or interfere with the patient's right to continue to own, possess or use firearms," U.S. Circuit Judge Marcia Cooke ruled, adding that this was a First Amendment issue that would ultimately save the lives of children. Pro-life!


Perhaps the biggest firearm conundrum facing municipalities late last year was a new gun law signed by Gov. Rick Scott over the summer that ordered all municipal governments to remove any references to "firearms" from their city governance. The argument, of course, is that everybody in Florida should have an equal and inalienable right to protect themselves from hoodlums no matter where they are in the Sunshine State, regional logic be damned.

Well, as boneheaded maneuvers involving weapons often do, this one backfired badly earlier this year, and did so in the most inopportune of places. With Tampa scurrying around like a wet rat trying to prepare itself for the onslaught of the Republican National Convention in August – establishing "clean zones" around the arena where the event will be held in which knives, ropes, gasmasks, pieces of wood and water guns will be forbidden lest protestors get out of control – Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and his city council put out a desperate plea to the governor to revoke the wholesale gun-a-palooza law in order to, well, maybe prevent actual gun violence from erupting. The governor's response was comically chilling.

"While the government may enforce long-standing prohibitions on the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, an absolute ban on possession in entire neighborhoods and regions would surely violate the 2nd Amendment," he said in a written response to the council. "Like you, I share the concern that 'violent anti-government protests or other civil unrest' can pose 'dangers' and the 'threat of substantial injury or harm to Florida residents and visitors to the State.' But it is unclear how disarming law-abiding citizens would better protect them from the dangers and threats posed by those who would flout the law."

Naturally, there will be no guns allowed inside the throbbing chamber of besuited stupidity, but outside, where the living, breathing, probably angry people are, expect something akin to the Wild West. The very thought of it led Buckhorn to fear that the city (and state) may end up looking "silly" and become fodder for political humorists (it has); even worse, people could die. Freedom!

Tampa isn't the only Florida city shaking in its boots. Miami Gardens held off on removing its municipal gun ban until January (after the Oct. 1 deadline) as a statement of protest. The laws there used to ban the sale, display or possession during a declared emergency, riot, parade or rally; likewise, they forbid the firing of a gun within city limits. When pushed into a corner, Miami Beach Gardens Mayor Matti Herrera Bower expressed her exasperation in no uncertain terms, according to a Miami Herald report.

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