There are several, concerning gun control measures being filed in the Florida State Legislature.
Florida SB Gun 196 and it’s companion bill H 219 bans automatic and semi-automatic weapons with a fixed or detachable magazine capable of holding ten or more rounds and ammunition feeding devices. This bill doesn’t just ban the magazines—it bans the firearms as well, requiring Floridians to either dispose of or make inoperable the firearms they currently own or register them with the state upon which they may never sell or transfer the firearm within the State.
The legislators proposing this bill claims that certain guns are “assault weapons” yet the reality is these legislators couldn’t tell the difference between a hunting rifle and an automatic weapon if a book on firearms fell onto their laps. That’s why Senator Linda Stewart and Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith chose to copy the language of the bill from other bills/laws (ex. Connecticut’s 2013 Assault Weapons ban) proposed and passed in more anti-gun states—they couldn’t come up with their own language likely because they are immensely lacking in firearms knowledge. It would be nice if legislators stopped trying to ban or legislate things in which they have no expertise in or real knowledge of.
SB 530 and its companion H 231 establish “Risk Protection Orders” in Florida. These orders are dangerous second amendment right violations. They would allow for petitions to be submitted that trigger court orders to prevent a person deemed “at risk” as a “danger” to themselves or others from purchasing a firearm and they must surrender possession of their firearms. It is important to note that these petitions are not being submitted by mental health professionals but rather can be submitted by family or law enforcement officers and that the order can prevent a person from exercising their rights to keep and bear arms for up to 12 months.
What if the people with who the court has a petition and automatically assumes are a danger, are in fact, not a danger but a victim of malicious lies designed to prevent them from exercising their rights? How easy would it be for an abusive man, with a wife who was about to leave him, to lie to the court about his wife being a danger to others, and thus ensure that she couldn’t protect herself against him with any actual measure of force?
These are very real questions, with real possible scenarios that could, yet for some Florida Legislators it’s okay to trample on due process or strip victims of violence of their rights based on the whims of non-professionals.
There are already channels in which someone who is mentally ill cannot obtain a weapon—a court can deem a person mentally incompetent and they will not be able to legally purchase a gun or obtain a concealed weapons license. However, these channels involve due process which is something that must occur before someone’s rights are just stripped from him/her with no real, quantifiable risk assessment by mental health professionals, as would be the case with SB 530/H 231.
SB 400 and its companion bill H 269 requires a psychological evaluation for those to receive a concealed carry license in Florida. In order to get a concealed weapons license in Florida, you must undergo a Federal background check that does check to see that you have not been committed to a mental institution within the last year and that you have not been deemed mentally incompetent by the court system, among other things. However, state legislators want to go even further by carefully balancing an invasion of person’s right to privacy in health care with a further unnecessary regulation and burden on law-abiding citizens to obtain a concealed weapons license.
For the record, according to Texas Department of Public Safety and Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) numbers, licensed concealed carriers are extremely law abiding. By calculating the crime rate of FDLE numbers as total number of license revocations divided by the total population of concealed carry license holders in Florida, and multiplying by 100,000 the crime rate for CCL holders is 82.33 per 100,000 for 2016-2017.
Let’s compare that to general violent crime rates in Florida where, using the same methods of calculation for the crime rate of CCL holders, we see a rate of 461.86 per 100,000 people, obviously much higher then that of Florida CCL holders. According to one recent 2016 study on concealed carry license holders and crime, license holders are about a sixth less likely to commit a crime then even law enforcement officers.
Yet it’s still popular among certain anti-gun Florida State legislators to neglect facts about how incredibly law-abiding concealed carry license holders. So they want to make it even harder for regular citizens to exercise their second amendment rights by requiring extra fees and documentation (in this case a psychological evaluation) to prove that licensees will not commit violent crimes—even though the statistics show that they already don’t.
Seriously, is there any other constitutional—no, not just constitutional but HUMAN—right, that is as heavily regulated as the Second Amendment? Perhaps we should order that all individuals seeking to legally protest should undergo an expensive psychological evaluation in order to exercise their freedom to do so.
While we are at it, we should mandate that individuals who wish to run for public office, and individuals already in public office, must undergo psychological evaluations too. There are few things more terrifying than mentally incompetent politicians trampling on the constitution and implementing unnecessary government regulation and control of our human rights.
If you live in Florida, you can find your elected representatives here. Write them letters, call them, visit their offices—let them know that you will not stand for them supporting or sponsoring bills that further attempt to restrict your second amendment rights. Don’t trust your elected politicians to do the right thing. Tell them that if they don’t stand up for you and your rights, they won’t have a job come next election!
Shayna Lopez-Rivas is a rape survivor and gun rights activist fighting for Second Amendment rights in Florida and across the nation. She does marketing for WVFT Freedom 93.3FM a local, conservative talk and sports radio station in Tallahassee, Florida where she also volunteers as a court appointed advocate for children in foster care. Shayna enjoys spending free time outdoors with her family, partner, and friends. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and her website shaynalopezrivas.com.