He briefly mentions 1968, when the Florida Constitution was rewritten because of a Supreme Court decision. The 1968 Florida Constitution carried over a protection of the right to keep and bear arms from the 1885 Florida Constitution:
The right of the people to bear arms in defense of themselves and the lawful authority of the State, shall not be infringed, but the Legislature may prescribe the manner in which they may be borne.
Schultz claims that south Florida is not the South. From bocamag.com:
We may live in South Florida, but this ain’t the South.
That’s Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Ocala, Pensacola and all those parts of the state where the culture and the politics have turned Florida into the “Gunshine State.” If Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties ran the Legislature and elected governors, the state likely wouldn’t have that reputation. But even after the new constitution in 1968 supposedly broke North Florida’s chokehold on power, this state has been the Deep South when it comes to the Second Amendment.
The 1968 Constitution had little effect on the state gun laws. Florida is very much a part of the South. It is understandable why Schultz would ignore Florida gun laws before 1968. They were designed to keep black people disarmed. From thehill.com:
Ida B. Wells, the leading journalist opposing lynching, agreed. In the nationally-circulated pamphlet Southern Horrors, Wells documented cases in Kentucky and Florida, “where the men armed themselves” and fended off lynch mobs. “The lesson this teaches,” Wells wrote, “is that a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give.”
After the thwarted lynching in Florida, the state legislature enacted a law requiring a license to possess “a pistol, Winchester rifle or other repeating rifle.” A Florida Supreme Court Justice later explained: “the Act was passed for the purpose of disarming the negro laborers” and “was never intended to apply to the white population and in practice has never been so applied.”
Eventually, the gun laws meant to keep black people disarmed were used against the majority of people in Florida. Floridians could not bear arms without a permit, which was often denied for spurious and political reasons. The laws varied enormously city to city, county to county. No ordinary person could be sure they were bearing arms legally if they crossed the street.
Floridians fought back at the ballot box, and the Florida legislature enacted statewide preemption of gun laws, a state wide concealed carry law, and a ban on most public open carry, all in 1987. Schultz characterizes the restoration of rights this way:
It began dramatically in 1987. The Legislature prohibited counties and cities from enacting firearms regulation and made Florida the first state that allowed residents to carry concealed weapons. For the next three decades, having laid down that marker, National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer rarely lost.
Florida was not “the first state that allowed residents to carry concealed weapons”. Eight states had “shall issue” concealed carry permits in 1986. They were Maine, New Hampshire, Indiana, Alabama, Connecticut, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Washington. Vermont had Constitutional Carry. Vermont never required a permit to carry firearms, concealed or openly. Only one of those states, Alabama, is in the South.
Florida is hardly an exemplar of Second Amendment freedoms. Florida is one of only five states that ban the open carry of handguns in most public places. Fourteen states do not require a permit for either open carry or concealed carry.
Schultz claims the Pulse nightclub mass murderer had a concealed carry permit. The mass murderer did not have a concealed carry permit. He had a security guard license, and a statewide firearms license.
Much of Schultz article is a tribute to the success of Marion Hammer as a lobbyist. Marion Hammer is a lobbyist of the first order. But Hammer could not have accomplished the reforms of restrictive Florida gun laws without widespread voter support.
Florida cities widely ignored the Florida preemption statute. The Florida legislature added teeth to the preemption law to prevent local politicians from being scofflaws. Schultz mischaracterizes the law:
Finally, Scott signed legislation that punishes—through fines and possible removal from office—county or city elected officials whom the NRA or any other party believes is trying to get around that ban on local firearms regulation.
The county or city elected officials are only punished if they violate the law. They cannot ignore the law with impunity. Here is the punishment section of the statute. From state.fl.us:
(c) If the court determines that a violation was knowing and willful, the court shall assess a civil fine of up to $5,000 against the elected or appointed local government official or officials or administrative agency head under whose jurisdiction the violation occurred.
(d) Except as required by applicable law, public funds may not be used to defend or reimburse the unlawful conduct of any person found to have knowingly and willfully violated this section.
Officials may not be punished unless they are found to have willfully violated the statute in a court of law.
The incremental reforms in the Florida legislature have resulted from a widespread desire to restore Second Amendment rights in Florida. Second Amendment rights were first taken from freed slaves. Then they were taken from citizens that did not have political connections.
Schultz mentions “Stand Your Ground” laws. Such laws have benefited black people, who are more often victimized by crime, more than other populations in the state. Black people made up about 16.6% of the Florida population in 2012, when the analysis of “Stand Your Ground” laws was done. From dailycaller.com:
But approximately one third of Florida “Stand Your Ground” claims in fatal cases have been made by black defendants, and they have used the defense successfully 55 percent of the time, at the same rate as the population at large and at a higher rate than white defendants, according to a Daily Caller analysis of a database maintained by the Tampa Bay Times. Additionally, the majority of victims in Florida “Stand Your Ground” cases have been white.
Schultz would do well to read some history of Florida before 1987.
Gun control laws have a long racist history. Florida is part of the South, and always will be. The South is restoring Second Amendment rights that were denied to freed slaves. All southern states except for Maryland, now have shall issue concealed carry laws. Mississippi is a Constitutional Carry state. Only South Carolina and Florida ban open carry in the South. The urban politicians in Florida will not be able to keep Florida from restoring open carry (banned in 1987) forever.
A comment at bocamag.com, showing errors in the article, has been removed.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.