Why Is Gun Control Anathema In Tallahassee?
As New York and other states strengthen their gun control laws in response to the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., the chances of that happening in Florida appear dim.
"Remember, this a Republican-controlled Legislature, and they are very much about trying to honor yhe Constitution and the Second Amendment," says our Tallahassee reporter, Gina Jordan.
Ironically, the very week of the Newtown shootings in December, Florida became the first state to issue a million active concealed carry weapons permits. It has issued a total of two million of them since such permitting began in 1987.
"I think that we should protect the Second Amendment as strenuously as we protect the First Amendment," said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putman, whose office gives out concealed weapons permits.
Putnam cites statistics that show only a 0.3 percent "irresponsibility rate" among Floridians legally able to possess guns. " Clearly," he says, "Floridians who are obtaining these licenses are obtaining them for the right reasons."
But many would disagree. The mother of slain Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin is one of the most vocal among them. Sybrina Fulton went to Tallahassee recently to fight against the state's "Stand Your Ground" law, which shooter George Zimmerman plans to use in his defense when he goes on trial for murder later this year.
The "Stand Your Ground" law eliminates the requirement to flee from a confrontation and allows the use of deadly force by someone who fears for his or her life.
"I just don't understand how someone can be a make-believe cop, chase him, get in confrontation with him, shoot and kill him, and not be arrested," Fulton said. "Something has to be done."
So, whether gun laws are changed or not in the state capital, gun control will continue be a major issue in what some have nicknamed "The Gunshine State."