Joe Henderson Columns
Henderson: Some gun rights people infuriated with Rick Scott
Gov. Rick Scott signed a law Monday that restricts the sale of guns to people with serious mental issues. Hard to argue with that, right? I know I don't want to test the theory that only a mentally balanced person with a gun can stop a mentally unbalanced person with a gun. But it does have a provision that infuriated lots of gun rights advocates, and they are letting him know about it. Man, are they letting him know. A quick tour of his official Facebook page shows plenty of comments from outraged people who are screaming betrayal and worse.One responder called Scott a "communist" while another screamed, "You betrayed us!" Still another claimed that "nearly 100,000 law-abiding Floridians who have committed NO crime will lose their gun rights for voluntarily accepting certain mental health treatments." Then there is the one who warned, "Our voices will be heard on the next election, we will not vote you back in. You should have listened to us!" Well, Charlie Crist does have an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association. v vAnd what is Scott's dastardly attack on the Second Amendment? Let's say a person with mental issues has been previously held under the Baker Act. Back out on the streets, that person now voluntarily checks back into a clinic. They would have to sign a statement acknowledging they have been diagnosed as a danger. Their names would be entered into a database that would keep them from buying a gun until a doctor certifies they are no longer a threat. No less than Marion Hammer herself urged Scott to sign the bill. She is the past president of the NRA in Florida and is generally considered the go-to source on these matters. She crusades relentlessly against anything that could be remotely seen as chipping away at the Second Amendment, and lawmakers in this state tend to see things her way. In a letter she sent to NRA members, Hammer said calls for a veto were based on "misinformation." She called the bill "very limited." Let me repeat: MARION HAMMER LIKES THIS BILL! v vSo what's the problem? I called Republican state committeeman Bill Bunting of New Port Richey and posed a hypothetical to him. He is a well-known gun rights advocate. I asked him to put himself in Scott's shoes. The governor was presented a bill that passed the House of Representatives 117-1. It passed the Senate 38-0. What would you do? "Actually, this bill doesn't have a lot of clarity as it is written, but it looks like you have to sign it," Bunting said. "Public perception would be so strong. But once you get your foot in the door (to restrict gun rights), then the next time it's something else." So goes the theory. But given the outrage over a bill that keeps guns away from mentally ill people, I wouldn't worry about "something else" ever being passed.