Lee’s note: This open letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis is from the Board of Directors of Florida Carry, Inc., of which I am a member.
“We support constitutional carry statutes and salute the states that have passed them.” – Republican National Committee Platform
Frankly sir, we’re tired of waiting. We’re tired of hearing empty promises and accepting compromises by pseudo-Republicans. We’re tired of donor money from the likes of Al Hoffman and Mike Fernandez, who benefit from gated communities and private security, standing in the way of the Constitution. We’re tired of seeing constitutional and open carry bills dying in committee not by anti-gun Democrats’ actions, but by allegedly pro-constitution Republican inaction. In short, we’re tired of seeing the right to keep and bear arms in Florida relegated to a mere licensed privilege. It’s time to move on.
In 1987, Florida led the nation into the age of shall-issue, with its new statewide licensing program for concealed carry licenses. In just a few short years, half the nation joined Florida in that small, but important step toward the reinstatement of the right to keep and bear arms. No state that has adopted shall-issue has either rescinded or regretted that legislation.
However, 1987 also saw a step backward with the prohibition of openly carried firearms. Along with shall-issue, the Florida legislature also preempted the field of firearms and ammunition from local government regulation. Despite open carry being lawful per state law for decades, then-State Attorney Janet Reno launched a fear campaign against the historically lawful open carry, because counties could no longer regulate firearms. Reno successfully convinced spineless legislators to ban open carry, in a special budgetary session without hearing public comment, with the legislative promise to reconsider at the next regular session, which never happened. Several states have since legalized open carry, again neither subsequently rescinding nor regretting the decision.
Only days ago, Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia publicly endorsed constitutional carry. It’s too late for Florida to regain the forefront on the right to keep and bear arms, but it is downright embarrassing that so-called “Republican” leadership has killed every effort to even keep up. Forty-five states permit open carry of firearms, and twenty-one states enjoy constitutional carry. There simply is no valid reason for the citizens of Florida be deprived of exercising the right to keep and bear arms as a true right.
It has been alleged that Senate and House leadership have declared pro-gun legislation non grata and have threatened Republican legislators with removal from committee assignments should they dare to file either constitutional or open carry bills. If true, then this is completely unacceptable. The purpose of committees is the weigh the pros and cons of filed bills. The refusal to assign bills to committee that are supported and saluted by the Republican platform is reprehensible, and borders on fraud by those who allegedly represent that platform. So how can we break this logjam?
We strongly urge you to take action, now! Like Governor Rick Scott before you who stated he would sign an open carry bill, you are quoted as saying you would sign a constitutional carry bill. Unfortunately, those words are meaningless unless an open carry bill lands on your desk. It’s time to take a cue from Governor Kemp and use your leadership position to pressure Republican leadership to follow the platform. Publicly endorse both open and constitutional carry and demand those bills be enacted.
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