Opinions – Page 4 – Florida Politics

Mayid Yamin: Local ordinances targeting pet stores in Florida do more harm than good

In 2002, I left my home in Venezuela to pursue my dream of owning a business and providing a better life for my family. This country offered opportunity to an extent I had never seen before, and my business partner and I pulled out all the stops to achieve our goal.

We never expected the heavy hand of government to shatter our dreams – not here in America.

We became franchise owners of a Petland store in Pembroke Pines, my proudest accomplishment – but it would soon be ripped away.

One horrible day in 2015, I received an email saying the city was considering a new local ordinance that would prevent the sale of dogs in stores – presumably because some pet stores and their suppliers didn’t meet proper standards of care for their animals. I knew my store met the highest standards, but city officials didn’t want to listen.

I had to endure hurtful falsehoods by city leaders that damaged me personally and emotionally. At one point, we were told that dog store owners were making too much money, and that contributed to this incomprehensible forced shutdown.

When the ordinance passed, the city’s crusade against pet stores had succeeded.

I would expect this kind of treatment from the corrupt socialist government of my native country, but not in the land of the free, where the American Dream lives in so many hearts. In this country, people work hard for their success, and government is supposed to help them – or at least stand out of the way.

To suffer such obstruction from our local government was truly shocking. And today, I am still dealing with the financial and legal struggles caused by this ordinance.

When I lost my Petland franchise, the 30 dedicated workers I employed also lost their livelihood. It was always my priority to take the success of my business and give back to my community. None of this seemed to matter to local city officials, who seemed determined to shut down my store and others like it – no matter what.

The most frustrating part of all this is that the ordinance was so completely unnecessary. Petland prohibits franchise owners from purchasing puppies from breeders who have had violations within the past two years and encourages owners to visit breeders to make sure their operations meet our expectations.

At the same time, Florida law requires that pet store owners purchase pets from USDA-licensed breeders who are inspected and certified by the state, and stores must have a veterinarian conduct weekly exams for health standards.

By forcing stores like mine to close their doors, these municipal ordinances only encourage the growth of puppy mills and other unregulated vendors, hurting local business owners and workers, as well as the pet lovers they serve.

I followed each and every rule and regulation to the letter, yet I was still forced to close a successful, locally owned business that was committed to the well-being of our animals.

In the America I chose as my home, the government should not be allowed to shut down a legitimate business that was operating entirely within requirements of the law.

There is a bill in the Florida Legislature, HB 7087, that would stop local governments from acting so destructively by pre-empting their ability to outlaw certain things – including pets.

I encourage all freedom-loving citizens to urge their legislators to support this bill, to prevent what happened to me from happening to anyone else in the future.


Mayid Yamin is a former pet shop franchisee in Pembroke Pines.

What do pet store bans actually accomplish?

Virtually no one would jump to the defense of substandard breeders and so-called “puppy mills,” where lovable pets are nothing more than profit centers.

Animal welfare activists (and members of the public) are right to object to businesses that traffic in animals kept in cruel or inhumane conditions.

But for dog lovers looking to add a four-legged member to their families, where do they turn if there are no quality pet stores?

One easy answer is to go to a local animal shelter and adopt.

However, even animal activist groups like PETA admit that in many shelters, around 70 percent of dogs are either pit bulls or pit bull mixes. The National Animal Interest Alliance also estimates the number of purebred dogs in shelters dropped to about 5 percent over the past few years.

While a pit bull or a mixed-breed dog may be right for some families, they are not the answer for everyone. That is a fact those pushing for ordinances to outright ban pet stores in certain cities and counties statewide seem to ignore.

In the Florida Legislature, there has been a lot of discussion about HB 7087, mainly because its language preempts local governments’ ability to outlaw specific products. This would apply to things like helium balloons, Styrofoam cups … and pets.

The question is whether local governments should be allowed to ban legitimate products and suppress legal commerce in their respective jurisdictions. Groups like the Florida Retail Federation and the James Madison Institute don’t think they should be able to do that (government overreach and all that) while local government organizations — the Florida League of Cities and Florida Association of Counties — oppose that part of HB 7087.

No matter how you feel about government regulations, a better solution is for cities and counties to adopt local policies setting minimum standards for pet stores and breeders. This preserves a consumer’s ability to choose the animal they want while ensuring puppies are not mistreated.

For instance, Miami-Dade County mandates pet stores meet certain conditions, such as making sure all animals receive certain shots and vaccines from a veterinarian, ensuring they are in kennels with solid floors and proper ventilation, and keeping all the appropriate paperwork and documentation on file for public review.

Appropriate regulations — combined with existing protections included in Florida’s Lemon Law and USDA guidelines — ensure that only those pet stores willing to keep pets in proper conditions are allowed to operate in the county.

Some families want a specific breed; if such a breed isn’t available at a local pet store — where they can interact with the animal before adopting — they will be forced to turn to other sources. Many of those sources are questionable: online sites, which are often scams or operate outside of state and local regulations, or illegal or unlicensed breeders.

At the end of the day, Florida needs to strike an appropriate balance on this issue. The state should preserve consumer choice, while local governments should listen to constituents and establish appropriate standards for pet stores.

Heavy-handed government overregulation, whether from the state or local government, serves no one.

Joe Henderson: Maybe Senate should have asked Adam Putnam first

Say this for Adam Putnam: he knows how to get attention.

He put out a terse news release Wednesday, ripping a state Senate proposal to use $10 million from the concealed weapons license fee to reimburse trauma centers for costs related to the Parkland murders.

It was kind of a “get off my lawn” moment for the normally affable Agriculture Commissioner, who also is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

“I oppose taxing law-abiding concealed weapon licensees for atrocities carried out by criminals. If anyone should be taxed for those heinous acts, it should be criminals,” the release read.

“The monster who murdered 17 people in Parkland wasn’t even eligible to have a concealed weapon license.”

Putnam’s objection about taxpayers is a bit of a reach, starting with the fact that law-abiding citizens he referred to aren’t being taxed. They voluntarily paid a fee for the right to carry a concealed weapon.

And while we all agree what happened in Parkland qualifies as an atrocity, it’s not like the reimbursement would be going to some wild-eyed anti-gun lobby. It would be going to help cover costs of treating victims of the aforementioned atrocity.

It is true, though, that the confessed shooter in Parkland isn’t old enough to have the license. In Florida, the minimum age is 21 for the permit. He was old enough to legally purchase the AR-15 assault-style rifle used in the attack, but I digress.

The point is, the horror unleashed that day – 17 dead, 14 wounded – pushed local hospitals to the limit. That’s what led Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon of Miami Gardens to propose the reimbursement fund, which would be administered by Attorney General’s office.

Senate President Joe Negron supported the idea, and SB 1876 was born. It passed an appropriations committee vote 17-3.

On the surface, using a portion of that gun fee in this way seemed reasonable. First-time Florida applicants pay $97 for the permit, which includes $55 for fingerprinting. Renewals cost $45.

It is good for seven years.

However, Jennifer Meale, communications director for the agriculture department, said in an email, “The primary purpose of the licensing fees is to mange and operate the concealed weapon license program. All application and renewal fees are dedicated to the licensing trust fund.”

Translation: That money already has a purpose.

In fairness, the right thing to do for those pushing for this bill would have been to check with Putnam before going public.

This sounds like the Agriculture Commissioner is telling the Senate to keep its mitts out of his money pot without talking to him first, no matter how well-meaning the proposal might be.

He has a point.

R. Scott Shalley: Allowing pharmacists to administer vital flu shots saves lives

There is widespread flu activity from this season’s flu outbreak all across the continental U.S. – something that has not happened in the U.S. Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s 13 years of tracking the spread of influenza.

This year’s flu is also particularly contagious and can be spread more easily just by breathing rather than by coughs and sneezes.

For context, a mild flu season tends to kill about 12,000 Americans while a severe flu season kills about 56,000. This is already considered a severe flu season. Currently, an average of 100 people dies each week from the flu.

In many of these cases, lack of access to the inoculation or an inability to see their primary care doctor in time lead to the person suffering from flu-like symptoms and in some cases, a late trip to the hospital was too late to save them.

This year’s flu is one of the most potent and deadly in years, but being able to get treatment in time can save lives, as long as patients have timely access to the vaccinations. Which many don’t.

Now imagine the ability to get this same crucial inoculation from your local pharmacy, with no need to schedule an appointment. This would serve as an easy way for an individual to get tested, treated and not have to worry about suffering from the flu.

For patients, being inoculated at a pharmacy would be cheap and most importantly, convenient which is why pharmacies and pharmacists are ideal partners for a pandemic immunization response.

Unfortunately, as logical as this scenario sounds, the Florida legislature has decided that it’s better to limit access to vital health care. SB 524 was proposed to allow pharmacists to administer flu tests and then treat and prescribe Tamiflu to the consumer.

A “yes” vote would ensure lives are saved.

Instead, we are left in the same situation, where patients who may not have a primary care doctor, or may not have health insurance, or whose local doctor may not carry these treatments, are left to the possibility of not getting access in time to save their lives or the lives of their children.

Getting medication within the first 48 hours of the first sign of symptoms is crucial, so every hour counts.

Even though patients know their local pharmacists are qualified to administer flu tests, this expanded prescribing would come with training and continuing education courses for the pharmacists. Pharmacists seeking to test for and treat the influenza virus must obtain certification through a program approved by the Board of Pharmacy and they must test for and treat the influenza virus within the framework of an established written protocol under a supervising physician.

This bill would provide many safeguards to ensure that every pharmacist is qualified, knowledgeable and capable of administering the flu test correctly. Not to mention, you can currently buy a flu test online and administer it yourself, yet somehow pharmacists aren’t qualified?

Opponents of this bill argue that allowing pharmacists to administer flu tests will hurt their business or that it somehow complicates the relationship between the doctor and patient if they receive treatment outside of their primary doctor. Are these minor concerns really worth putting thousands of Floridians’ lives at risk?

The Florida Retail Federation and our thousands of pharmacies throughout Florida stand ready to help fill this role of providing patients with immediate access to Tamiflu if they need it to our more than 19 million residents.

It is our hope that the legislature recognizes the error of their ways, realize the potentially thousands of lives they could be saving by passing this bill and vote yes when it comes back up for a vote.

This is not a time to be influenced by any outside groups but rather recognize the importance of voting yes and protecting Florida families.


R. Scott Shalley is President and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. He can be reached at scott@frf.org.

Joe Henderson: Arming teachers is bad, bad, bad idea

Some good ideas about gun control came out of the Legislature this week. Arming teachers isn’t one of them, though.

The proposal in the House Appropriations Committee to spend $400 million and put resource officers in every school, beef up mental health treatment, and reinforce buildings to make them safer – all good.

As always when guns are involved though, lawmakers go a step too far.

In this case, Republicans pushed through by a party-line vote the school marshal program championed by Rep. Jose Oliva that would authorize designated teachers to have and, if necessary, use firearms.

Yes, it still has to reach the governor’s desk and even then would still be up to individual school districts to decide if they want to implement the plan.

Even so, it’s bad.

Bad. Bad. Bad.

That’s not just me saying this.

Students, parents and teachers who lived through the horror of the Parkland massacre pleaded, cried and did their best to convince the committee that the proposal was whacked and would only make a horrible situation worse.

Gov. Rick Scott says it’s a bad idea.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio opposes this.

No matter.

The Republican Rifle Association – oops, I mean Republican representatives in the Legislature – will always err on the side of more guns.

The irony, of course, is that the NRA Grand Dame herself, Marion Hammer, lobbied to defeat the bill because it also includes a measure that would push the minimum age to buy a gun to 21.

She called it an attack on the Second Amendment.

No, Marion … what happened in Parkland is an attack.

Shooting 17 people to death with a high-powered weapon is an attack on the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

A few mild restrictions on who can own a gun like that is not an attack. With that in mind, it’s not like Hammer’s legislative lapdogs voted to ban the sale of assault-style weapons or anything.

The committee vote to introduce more guns into public schools it shows the basic belief of those who voted in favor that only a good guy with a gun … blah, blah and furthermore, blah.

Let’s look a little closer at that, shall we?

In a situation like last week, an armed teacher would have been expected to be controlled and cool amid chaos – scrambling, screaming, terrified students, the echo of gunfire from the killer and fallen bodies.

Would the marshal be expected to head into the hallways and track the shooter, or just stay in the classroom and protect students there? And what if police do arrive on the scene and see a teacher moving through the corridors with a weapon?

Even if they don’t just shoot the teacher first, there would be more wasted time trying to prove that this is the good guy.

How they could vote for this idiotic proposal after hearing from those who experienced the Parkland horror beg them not to take that step is sad – but not surprising.

It does set up a potential test for Rick Scott.

If this idea of arming teachers works its way through the process and becomes law, Scott could still veto it – and boy, wouldn’t that bring an interesting twist to his assumed-candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

That’s getting ahead of things though.

Like I said up top, some good ideas came out of Tuesday’s discussion in the appropriations committee, and much of what was proposed makes sense and should become law.

But arming teachers?

Horrible idea. But when it comes to the expansion of guns into everyday life, that never seems to matter.

Rob Bradley’s fairness doctrine

Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley is undertaking something seen too rarely in the Legislative process: He is actually trying to clean up and improve Florida’s health care financing policy.

Bradley, an Orange Park Republican, intends to do this by finally eliminating “auto-payments,” a payment scheme that Gov. Rick Scott described in 2015 as arbitrary, inconsistent and bearing no relationship to improving access or quality of care.

This is not the first attempt to deconstruct the auto-payment policy.

Last year, the House acted to eliminate the policy for all but a small number of public hospitals that qualify as “safety net” providers.

The House accomplished this through a formula that requires hospitals receiving auto-payment money to have a Medicaid caseload of 25 percent or more. Then they added a complicated set of additional conditions designed to direct as much funding as possible to 11 large, government-funded hospitals.

The result was that out of 28 facilities that qualified for a piece of the $318 million in auto-payment funding, 92 percent – or roughly $292 million – went to those 11 facilities.

The argument those hospitals are making now is that they treat the highest percentage of Medicaid patients. What they don’t want you know is the state already recognizes their high Medicaid caseloads through other channels.

Those same 11 hospitals received $400 million of Low Income Pool funding. They got $163 million in Medicaid Disproportionate Share payments as well.

That’s a whopping $563 million in tax dollars already.

Many hospitals in rural Florida also treat high numbers of Medicaid and charity care patients, but the LIP formula has been manipulated to direct the money to public hospitals, so those rural hospitals now get little to nothing from LIP or the Disproportionate Share program.

Overall, these large, government-funded hospitals are doing very well.

Based on 2016 data, they had an average total margin of nearly 10 percent. That compares favorably with HCA at 9.6 percent or Tenet at 6.6 percent, two for-profit hospital corporations with their own Medicaid and charity care obligations.

About 1 in 6 patients served at an HCA hospital were covered by Medicaid and the company provided $122 million in charity care services. Tenet had a Medicaid percentage of 23.5 percent and provided $33 million in charity care.

Bradley is providing much-needed leadership by attempting to end payment formulas disconnected from any incentives for efficiency or quality of care.

His approach requires a smaller total cut in Medicaid payments to all hospitals compared to last year, specifically improves Medicaid payments for freestanding children’s hospitals and provides a special allocation to fund UF Health Jacksonville, one of those 11 hospitals that truly does need additional help.

Let’s hope this common-sense approach is embraced by both the House and Senate.

Joe Henderson: Texting while driving bill may be dead …. again

Today’s question: Name a place where the right to privacy apparently matters more than your right not to get splattered on the road because another motorist couldn’t resist texting while driving.

Why, we know the answer to that. It’s the Florida Legislature!

For the latest example we look to the Senate, where a bill that would make texting while driving a primary offense and might save lives is stuck in committee and likely will stay there.


Republican Sen. Rob Bradley seems to be opposed to the idea.

Big deal? OMG yeah!

Bradley leads the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the Miami Herald reported he is not allowing the bill to be heard. That prompted state Rep. Emily Slosberg, a Democrat from Boca Raton, to tell the Herald the bill “is on the verge of death.”

She is a co-sponsor of HB 33, along with Rep. Jackie Toledo of Tampa.

Verge of death, huh?

Interesting use of words there, since preventing death by distracted driving is the motivation behind making texting while behind the wheel a primary offense. Currently, police can only charge someone with texting while driving if they are first pulled over for another violation.

The bill was sailing merrily through committees in the House and Senate before it got stuck in Bradley’s legislative quicksand pit.

Bradley cited privacy concerns in bottling up the proposed bill, saying it could allow police to search a suspect’s cell phone or even increase racial profiling.

These are not insignificant issues.

You lose the right to privacy, though, when cartwheeling across four lanes of an interstate because you were sending a text and lost control of your car. That argument never penetrates the force field that continues to make Florida one of only five states that has not made texting while driving a primary offense.

Fun with numbers: The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel cited a state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles report that Florida was second-worst in the nation for distracted driving. In 2016 there were about 50,000 distracted-related crashes in Florida and 233 deaths.

Why does that never seem to balance out prohibiting someone’s “right” to fiddle with their phone when they ought to be paying attention to the road?

Republicans have been killing bills like this in the Legislature for years, all in the name of personal liberty.

What about the personal right of others not to wind up in a full-body cast, or a coffin, because someone was sending a Facebook meme while they were driving?

Florida has grown too large to allow this kind of stuff to go on. Between snowbirds who don’t know the roads and the ever-increasing population – now more than 20 million – taking to the highways is already risky enough.

Given that, Bradley’s esoteric argument that clamping down on texting while driving could be an invasion of privacy doesn’t make much sense.

We see people all the time weaving down the roads, eyes and fingers on their phone, mesmerized by a text or a cat picture.

Without coming out and saying it directly, those who keep this bill from becoming law are saying that text or picture trumps your right not to become a statistic.

Stephanie Smith: Florida Senate should vote to fix auto insurance laws

Floridians are blessed with a low cost of living.

When comparing the cost of housing, utilities, transportation, health, or the overall cost of living, Florida is lower than the U.S. average.

Why, then, is Florida ranked among the five most expensive states for car insurance?

The answer is, in part, because of a broken statutory system that does not require the purchase of third-party bodily injury coverage (BI) but does require the purchase of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage laden with high costs and pervasive fraud.

Florida is the only state that does not require drivers to purchase BI coverage when they buy auto insurance to satisfy financial responsibility requirements.

The point of financial responsibility is to guarantee that all drivers on the public roadways have a minimum amount of security to pay damages that they cause to others.  Florida has set that minimum financial responsibility at $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident for bodily injury.  The statutes permit the sale of auto insurance policies that do not satisfy this requirement, which results in a staggering number of drivers on the road without adequate insurance as compared to other states.

In 2015, Florida ranked first in percentage of uninsured motorists at 27 percent, more than double our neighbor Georgia, which is near the average at 12 percent.

PIP is a vestige of the 1970s insurance reform movement that has failed to accomplish what the academics who dreamed it up believed it would do. The goal of PIP was to eliminate lawsuits over minor injuries and lower overall auto insurance rates.

The reality is PIP continues to be a cottage industry devoted to extracting money from insurers, even when there is no merit to the claims.

After an initial wave of PIP laws in the 1970s, no state has enacted a no-fault system like PIP again, and several states have wisely abandoned PIP due to the cost and the fraud inherent in the system. Lawmakers in those states came to understand that an auto insurance system is healthier when it relies on common law tort principles rather than the derogation of common law rights in favor of a no-fault scheme.

Uber supports a public policy that lowers the number of uninsured and underinsured motorists on the road.

Through statute and through our business practices, we guarantee that the over 100,000 drivers partnering with Uber in Florida are insured while using our app. Those hard-working drivers deserve to see their personal auto insurance costs go down and to see more of their fellow Floridians properly insured.

The Florida House has already passed HB 19 by Rep. Erin Grall. This bill repeals PIP and requires the purchase of BI coverage at a limit commensurate with average amounts across the country.

If enacted, this bill would make our public roadways safer and would lower premiums for the average Floridian statewide by more than 8 percent for mandatory coverage.

We applaud Rep. Grall and the Florida House for their good work, and we urge the Florida Senate to act on this issue.


Stephanie Smith is Uber Florida’s Senior Public Policy Manager.

Brandon Arnold: Florida wins by modernizing NAFTA

Trade officials from the Trump administration recently wrapped up the sixth of seven scheduled rounds of discussions with counterparts from Mexico and Canada to revise and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

President Donald Trump stated that if the process doesn’t go to his liking, he’ll pull the plug on the deal altogether. That would be a huge mistake. While modernization policies would improve NAFTA, the trade agreement has been a huge success in Florida and across the country, creating millions of jobs and boosting the economy for all Americans.

NAFTA was controversial back in 1993 when it was signed by President Bill Clinton and approved by bipartisan majorities in Congress, including Floridian Republican Sen. Connie Mack and Democratic Sen. Bob Graham.

While Trump has called NAFTA “the worst trade deal in the history of the world,” withdrawing would have enormous consequences. There hasn’t been enormous support on either side of the aisle for full withdrawal from NAFTA, but even the suggestion from the president is concerning.

According to new research from the Business Roundtable, terminating NAFTA would come at an extraordinary cost for the country. The total short to medium term job losses would be between 1.8 and 3.6 million. More than 200,000 jobs could be at risk in Florida alone.

The damage to economic output would be staggering — GDP would fall by an estimated $119 to 231 billion per year. Florida’s state economic output would drop by at least $6.3 billion — partly because ending NAFTA would reduce Florida’s exports by $980 million.

Rather than scrapping NAFTA, U.S. officials should continue to work with our trading partners to update and modernize the deal. Indeed, there is plenty of room for improvement. The original pact was crafted in the early 90s, before the advent of the digital economy and the formation of large tech companies like Google and Amazon.

Trump’s trade negotiators can score significant wins for American businesses — especially those in the tech sector — by establishing rules that permit the free flow of data across international borders. Further, a new NAFTA should prohibit any data localization requirements that have the potential to impose unnecessary capital costs on our domestic companies.

Additionally, U.S. negotiators should use this process to pressure Mexico to liberalize its state-owned enterprises. For instance, our neighbors to the south should rein in various subsidies to these entities that give them an unfair advantage relative to private companies.

Our officials should also encourage Canada and Mexico to let more low-priced imports enter duty-free. For example, in the United States, goods that cost less than $800 are not subject to import taxes. In Canada, it’s just $20 (Canadian).

Aligning this threshold with U.S. policy could be a tremendous boon for many U.S.-based businesses, as it would allow our companies to export low-dollar goods to neighboring countries without paying duties or completing bureaucratic paperwork. This would mean faster shipping times, more efficient logistical processes, and lower costs for businesses and consumers. These are but a few of the improvements that could be made to NAFTA — assuming our negotiators are earnestly trying to update, not eviscerate the deal.

On the campaign trail, Trump often threatened a drastic departure from our long-standing commitment to free trade. Now that he’s been in office for over a year, thankfully, we’ve yet to see the president implement many major protectionist measures.

A continued commitment to international commerce has helped the economy grow — especially when paired with deregulatory policies and Trump’s pro-growth tax reform plan.

As Florida’s economy expands, creates jobs, and pushes wages upward, residents and businesses should keep a close eye on how the Trump administration handles trade policy. There are certainly gains to be made by modernizing existing deals, opening up new foreign markets, and leveling the playing field for American businesses.

But extreme actions like withdrawing from NAFTA could be calamitous and undo many of the economic gains our nation has made recently.


Brandon Arnold is the Executive Vice President of the National Taxpayers Union, a nonprofit citizen group whose members work every day for lower taxes and smaller government at all levels.

Joe Henderson: NRA boycott shows pressure can work both ways

The NRA boycott is gaining corporate converts every day, so maybe it’s time ask the gun-rights lobby this simple question: How does it feel?

The National Rifle Association grew into an organization with outsized influence because it keeps lawmakers in line with the threat of political and economic pressure. Its leaders have long understood that politicians can be controlled with those strong-arm tactics.

Or, as Morgan Freeman once famously said in The Shawshank Redemption, “That’s all it takes really – pressure, and time.

In recent days though, the reverse is becoming reality. In the wake of the slaughter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, major sponsors are disassociating with the NRA and even some political leaders – most notably Florida Gov. Rick Scott – offered proposals they wouldn’t have made a month ago.

Scott now wants the minimum age to buy a gun in Florida increased to 21. The confessed killer in Broward County is 19 years old and legally bought the AR-15-style rifle used in the massacre. He also has refused to support the NRA proposal to arm teachers in public schools.

The NRA, naturally, opposes raising the minimum age to buy a weapon. In the Miami Herald, lobbyist Marion Hammer dismissed it as “political eye wash” and said it will “punish law-abiding gun owners.”

Hammer, by the way, was just profiled in a meticulously reported story in The New Yorker. Florida lawmakers, particularly Republicans, are well acquainted with her influence, but even that raises a question worth pondering.

The NRA, according to the profile, has about 300,000 members in Florida, a state with more than 20 million people.

That amounts to 1.5 percent of the population, but Hammer’s ability to summon NRA members en masse to meet any perceived waffling by puppet politicians makes that number seem a lot higher.

She has been able to keep her team in line because opponents have never been able to organize a serious counter challenge. This boycott suggests that might be changing.

The hashtag #BoycottNRA has been attacked by conservatives, who promise companies that go along with it will pay dearly. Major airlines like Delta and United announced they will no longer offer special deals to NRA members, and some hotel chains and credit card companies are doing the same.

The big showdown is with Amazon, YouTube and Google, which thus far have resisted calls to sever ties with the NRA that includes showing its videos online.

Determined opponents have called for such things as canceling memberships to Amazon’s lucrative Prime program. If that begins to catch on, the public backlash against the NRA could turn into an avalanche.

The NRA is fighting back, of course, but we go back to the numbers. It claims to have 5 million members in a nation of about 325 million. We’re back on that approximately 1.5 percent number again.

That also assumes every NRA member is in lockstep with the loudest voices in the organization. In the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas killings, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

A recent Quinnipiac poll showed Americans favor tougher gun laws by 66-31 percent, the highest level ever. It is also telling that gun owners also support that by 50-44 percent.

Will it work?

Well, if any gun restrictions get through the Florida Legislature, mild as they probably will be, that’s a start. Democrats will be running hard for state offices and congressional seats on anti-gun theme, and that really could change things.

If the NRA boycott spreads, it could impact the organization’s ability to distribute pro-gun literature and send campaign donations to favored politicians.

The seeds of change are there.

Public opinion is turning, some reliable politicians are deserting, and determined Stoneman Douglas students are eloquently demanding change.

That’s how it works.

Pressure. And time.

The NRA, finally, is learning what its like to be on the other side of that game.

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