TBO.com: Tampa Bay Online, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times - breaking news and weather.
Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014
Joe Henderson Columns

Henderson: For NRA, even minor setback means war

By
Published:   |   Updated: May 5, 2014 at 07:25 PM

Even by Marion Hammer’s take-no-prisoners approach about guns and the U.S. Constitution, what she said this time was ridiculous.

Not content with having turned Florida into one of the most gun-friendly states in the nation, the Grand Dame of the National Rifle Association in Tallahassee issued a blistering call to arms (so to speak) against that subversive group known as the Florida Sheriffs Association.

You know, sheriffs — the people who clean up the mess after someone gets hit by flying popcorn in a movie theater and just has to stand their ground.

Anyway, Hammer issued a blistering ALERT over the weekend to the faithful because (her words), “Make no mistake, the Florida Sheriffs Association has declared war on the 2nd Amendment.”

I don’t know how I missed that. I mean, a declaration of war is a pretty big thing.

All I thought the sheriffs did was help defeat a nutso NRA proposal to let people without conceal-and-carry permits to, well, conceal and carry during events like riots and hurricanes.

The measure died last week in the state Senate after Republican Jack Latvala of Clearwater, with help from Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, convinced enough colleagues that just because the NRA wants something that doesn’t mean it has to become law.

That was pretty big news, actually. Under Hammer, the NRA generally needs only to decide something is covered by the 2nd Amendment and the Legislature pulls out the big ol’ rubber stamp.

“Their position was wrong,” Gualtieri told me last week. “In a riot situation, we don’t need people to go get a gun out of a drawer, put in their pocket, and wade out into a riot.

“If we start allowing that, where does it go? People evacuating during a hurricane can still lawfully put their gun in a car, provided it is properly stored. There’s nothing to stop that. But if they think people are going to be fleeing on foot up I-75 and need a gun, that’s just theatrics.”

And there was this response from Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee.

“They (NRA) have such a chokehold on Tallahassee, they usually get what they want,” he said. “To me, this wasn’t about the 2nd Amendment rights. This was an unnecessary law. You can already take your guns almost anywhere.”

I believe the point is that almost is never enough with the NRA.

This proposed law was so over the top that State Sen. Dwight Bullard, D–Miami, filed a measure to change its name from “An act related to carrying a concealed weapon or firearm” to “An act relating to the zombie apocalypse.”

He was a little ahead of things. The apocalypse came with Hammer’s decision to make sheriffs out to be the enemy. After all, who do those law enforcement people think they are? Just because they risk their lives every day to protect us doesn’t mean NRA members need to listen to what they have to say.

Hammer’s hyperbole prompted this response from Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, as reported by the Associated Press: “I’m outraged. I’m not mad. I’m outraged that she would say so, because it’s absolutely not true.”

That’s the same Grady Judd who, when asked why his deputies shot a suspect 68 times, responded, “That’s all the bullets we had.”

It’s truly impressive, and I mean this, that the NRA has grown into such a political force with a membership nationally of about 4 million people, roughly the size of Oregon. To protest anything the NRA does is to invite its wrath.

“Maybe the NRA has gotten a little too big for its britches,” Gualtieri said. “I know they put a lot of pressure on people; I’ve seen the emails. I wouldn’t be surprised if I got a backlash out of this, but I don’t care. If they want to come after me, come on.”

After this, I believe he can count on it.

Comments