No Tax for Tracks leader sparks email blast to Pinellas sheriff for opposition to open carry bill
Remember Barb Haselden, the outspoken leader of the No Tax for Tracks group that helped defeat the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum?
Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri does. Gualtieri's email inbox has been flooded with messages this week after Haselden unholstered her prodigious email list to spur people to contact the sheriff and voice their support for a bill that would allow the open carrying of firearms in Florida.
Gualtieri personally opposes any form of open carry law and last week announced that the Florida Sheriffs Association had voted to oppose a bill sponsored by the father-son due of Sen. Don Gaetz and Rep. Matt Gaetz. SB 300 would allow permit holders to openly carry handguns.
Bearing the subject line"Pinellas Handgun Restriction Alert!" and starting with the salutation "Dear Republican voters," the email begins: "You may recall me as the spokesperson for No Tax For Tracks last year. Thank you once again for helping to defeat Greenlight Pinellas...
"If you support SB-300, you must take action now because it will be up for a critical vote in the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee very soon," Haselden writes. "Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey supports it, in part because he believes that citizens deserve the right to demonstrate (to criminals) that they have the ability to protect themselves. On the other hand, Pinellas County Sheriff Gualtieri, the FSA's Legislative Committee Chairman, has confirmed that the Florida Sheriffs Association ("the FSA") opposes the bill."
The email references a missive sent to National Rifle Association members by board member Marion Hammer that "called out" Gualtieri and the FSA for their opposition (more on that here). Haselden notes that 45 states have some form of open carry and urges recipients to email or call Gualtieri and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to voice their support for the Gaetz bill. It includes a handy link to send the emails.
"Please remember that our 2nd amendment right to bear arms exists ... in part to protect against an overreaching central government. It also exists because you have a right to protect yourself, unlike in most other countries," Haselden writes.
Gualtieri tells Bay Buzz he has received well over 500 emails and has responded to "every single one," some with a form response but others tailored to respond to certain points in a sender's message, he said.
"I support the open carry of guns & the 2nd amendment, we need this," wrote one sender. "If you take our constitutional rights away the only people carrying guns will be the criminals, which can put us all in grave danger!"
UPDATE: According to Pinellas activist Tom Rask, who has assisted Haselden with previous email blasts and helped with this one, the same email was also sent to independent voters in the county.
Here is a typical response Gualtieri is sending. Below that is Haselden's email blast in its entirety.
Allow me to clarify the current law and the proposed legislation about which you have concern and explain my position.
Under current Florida law, which I support, you may carry a gun openly or concealed on your own property or in your place of business without a permit; you may also carry a gun concealed in your car without a permit as long as it is in a holster; and you may carry a gun concealed on your person today with a permit. Almost 1.5 million people in Florida have a concealed carry permit. Countless others lawfully carry guns without a permit in their cars, at home, or within their businesses, which rightfully allows them to protect themselves and their families.
All of these rights are already in place and in my opinion this bill is unnecessary as it does not enhance your ability to protect yourself or your family. I don’t agree that somehow this bill makes you less of a target, in fact, if a bad guy sees the openly carried gun in public you may be the first one he goes after while he is committing a crime.
This bill allows someone to walk down a crowded city street with a gun hanging from their leg; sit in a restaurant at the table next to you while eating dinner with your family and have a gun on the table; or walk down the cereal aisle at Publix with a gun hanging out of their pocket while a bunch of 8 year old kids are deciding what cereal they can convince Mom to buy for them.
This is why I have spoken out about the pitfalls of this proposed legislation. My opposition is NOT about your right to carry a gun. My opposition is to creating a “gun slinging” environment that is not family friendly, not good for tourism and not good for our economy. Can you imagine Spring Break in St. Pete Beach with a bunch of people openly carrying guns? Let’s keep our conceal carry laws strong, keep openly carrying at home or your business if you wish, but let’s keep our State safe and not create an environment that is not good for Florida.
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri
Dear Republican Voters,
You may recall me as the spokesperson for No Tax For Tracks last year. Thank you once again for helping to defeat Greenlight Pinellas by 62% to 38%. It was a great victory for the people, and a stinging rebuke of special interests and slush funds.
Today, I write to you about the proposed bill in the Florida Legislature allowing handgun open carry . The bill's official name is SB-300, and your elected officials should hear from citizens at this time.
If you support SB-300, you must take action now because it will be up for a critical vote in the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee very soon. Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey supports it, in part because he believes that citizens deserve the right to demonstrate (to criminals) that they have the ability to protect themselves.
On the other hand, Pinellas County Sheriff Gualtieri, the FSA's Legislative Committee Chairman, has confirmed that the Florida Sheriffs Association ("the FSA") opposes the bill.
The National NRA immediately called out Sheriff Gualtieri and the FSA for their opposition to this bill. For example, the NRA pointed out that in 1987, the FSA opposed the Florida Concealed Carry bill because they didn't want any "hidden guns". And yet now they say they don't want visible guns. Which way do they want it?
Open carry of handguns is allowed in 45 states, according to the Wall Street Journal. There are some variations between these states, which is to be expected. For example, some states require a permit to open carry, some don't. But the point is: 45 states allow open carry of handguns ...including the extremely liberal State of California!
Click here to e-mail Gualtieri and the Senate Judiciary Committee and tell them you support SB-300. Please take action to protect our 2nd amendment rights against limitations that 45 other states do not have.
A house with security system signs is more safe than one without. Similarly, there may be people who want to open carry handguns (in a holster, of course) as a deterrent, even if it's unloaded. The criminal won't know that it's unloaded, and the openly carried handgun may just prevent a tragedy.
Please remember that our 2nd amendment right to bear arms exists is not about hunting. It exists in part to protect against an overreaching central government. It also exists because you have a right to protect yourself, unlike in most other countries.
Click here to e-mail Gualtieri and the Senate Judiciary Committee and tell them you support SB-300. If you prefer to speak rather than write, the number to Sheriff Gualtieri's office is 727-582-6201.
Thank you for your time! Halloween is upon us, and then Thanksgiving and Christmas. I sincerely wish that you and your loved ones have a great end of the year.
-- Barb Haselden
Citizen, business owner and constitutionalist