Joe Henderson: Florida’s red flag law may be the best we can hope for
Nikki Fried orders her office to be bathed in orange to help raise awareness of gun violence.

wear orange
The Democrats' call for a Special Session to address gun violence failed to gain enough support.

Florida’s most predictable development in recent weeks was that the call by Democrats for a Special Legislative Session to address gun violence would fail.

And, sure enough, the plea failed to receive the necessary 60% support from state lawmakers. I’m sure Democrats knew that’s how it would be from the start because I’m equally sure Republicans believe the state’s red flag law is as far as they’re willing to go on this issue.

If Democrats hope to target Republicans who wouldn’t go along with this with attack ads in the Midterms, go ahead. If they plan to attack Gov. Ron DeSantis on this in a statewide race, that could leave a mark — but probably not.

We already know where the Governor stands on this, and it will take more than the mass murders in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, to change his mind.

“With all due respect to these leftists, they just want to come after your Second Amendment rights,” DeSantis said at a recent press conference.

“Let’s just be honest; that’s what they want to do. They don’t want you. They view you, as a law-abiding citizen, as the target of what they’re trying to do. How can they, on the one hand, say they’re serious about this when they support these people who let all the criminals out of prison, and they don’t prosecute people?”

We can dismiss that as typical red-meat blather, designed for a base DeSantis doesn’t need to convince. I think it’s just a little reinforcement for his deep red stance on the almighty Second Amendment rights ahead of his 2024 presidential run — oh, wait, his “possible” run.

Besides, guns won’t be the deciding factor in November.

The cost of gas, food and everything else that reaches into Floridians’ wallets will matter much more. Assuming, please Lord, that there aren’t more massacres, the memory of Buffalo and Uvalde will have long since faded.

That’s the way it always works, and it won’t change this time.

Last weekend was the sixth anniversary that a madman exercising his Second Amendment rights killed 49 people and injured 53 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Republican lawmakers offered thoughts and prayers, but nothing else.

It was June and the Legislature wasn’t in Session, so they could duck the issue.

The story changed in 2018 after Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people and wounded 17 others in Parkland. That happened on Valentine’s Day, and it involved high school students. Also — this was important — the Legislature was in Session.

There was relentless pressure to DO SOMETHING and lawmakers couldn’t pretend they were busy with other things. So, the GOP-controlled Legislature passed the red flag law, then Gov. Rick Scott pushed aside NRA opposition and signed the bill.

It allows law enforcement to seize a weapon if they find a person is a risk to others or themselves.

The state has used the Risk Protection Order nearly 6,000 times. The law saves lives.

A bipartisan coalition of 20 U.S. Senators reached the framework on a gun safety package, and it includes elements of Florida’s red flag law.

Is that law enough?

Probably not, but at least we haven’t had a repeat mass slaughter in Florida since it passed.

Please keep your fingers crossed, though, because this is likely as good as it will ever get.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

One comment

  • California Dreamin'

    June 13, 2022 at 9:49 pm

    “. . .the almighty Second Amendment rights. . .”

    You like mocking the Constitution, eh Joe? Sure, let’s play. Let’s talk about limiting the “omnipresent First Amendment rights”, including freedom of the press. Let’s talk about changing the “counterproductive Fifth Amendment rights,” which protect people against self-incrimination and make it that much easier for criminals to escape justice. And let’s take the big axe to the “overarching 14th Amendment rights,” which liberals use every day to pull power away from the states where it is supposed to be and vest it in a elephantine, narrow-minded leftist bureaucracy. Yep, it’s a fun game, Joe. Trouble is, when all you old hippy cranks have finally gotten up from your keyboards and gone home to Ben Gay and dreams of the Haight, you leave the nation the lesser for it.

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