Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Putnam panders on concealed weapons permits

Poor Adam Putnam. There he was, the Opie of Smith & Wesson, happily bouncing along toward the Republican nomination for governor and being a gleeful shill for the National Rifle Association.

Before you could utter, "Say hello to my little friend," he would be sitting pretty in the Governor’s Mansion, playing Call of Duty: Black Ops all day long and pretending to be a macho, macho man.

But now Putnam has encountered a problem.

At the moment, the agriculture commissioner is facing two likely opponents who have positioned themselves even further to the right. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has begun to appeal to the Joe Arpaio wing of the party by airing a racist, fear-mongering commercial that stokes fears that illegal immigrants are stalking our neighborhoods and daily murdering white women.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who has declared his candidacy, has become something of a beefcake boy for Fox News, which has ordained him as the great conservative hope for Florida.

Putnam still hasn’t found much love from the Fox News/Sean Hannity/Rush Limbaugh axis of crazy. What to do?

Days ago, in an effort to demonstrate he can be even more bonkers than Corcoran and DeSantis (no small task), Putnam began promoting a proposal to amend Florida’s gun laws to allow a concealed carry permit to be issued even before an applicant’s criminal background check is complete.

That level of groveling to the gun lobby ought to earn Putnam an invite to appear on Fox C-lister Tucker Carlson’s show. At least it’s a start.

Putnam snuck the "Background check! We don’t need no stinking background check finished!" deep into a 114-page bill regulating stuff like livestock, telephone solicitations and oyster harvesting. Oh, the mischief that happens in the dead of night in Tallahassee.

The Glock in every pot bill easily passed in the Florida House, which would probably look approvingly on bazooka sales to hunt down squirrels.

In the Senate, the legislation was sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel, who went into full tut-tut mode in explaining to the Tampa Bay Times’ Steve Bousquet that this is not an effort to make it easier for people to get guns, even though it would make it easier for people to get guns.

This is Tallahassee after all, where the self-evident is often the victim of self-delusion.

Florida already has issued some 1.8 million concealed weapons permits. It’s not as if these things are all that hard to get as long as the recipient has a functioning pulse and can pass a simple criminal background check. This is hardly an onerous standard.

Yet, Eric Friday of Florida Carry makes the argument that a delayed criminal background check is a horrible burden to impose upon a citizen’s Second Amendment rights.

Indeed, Florida Carry had threatened to sue Putnam over delays in issuing concealed carry permits, which affect less than 1 percent of the more than half-million applications submitted every year. Still, Putnam wilted under even a dubious threat to sue him, tossing air kisses in the general direction of the NRA.

We’re not exactly dealing with Tallahassee’s lion of public safety here.

Indeed, Putnam boastfully hypes his political ambitions by noting he is a "proud NRA sellout," more than willing to serve as a cabana boy to the NRA’s Tallahassee chief cheerleader, Marion Hammer.

It is fairly rare to see a politician so openly candid about how easily he can be bought off by anyone with a checkbook.

Since Putnam essentially has acknowledged he doesn’t care about making sure people with red flags on their background checks can’t possess a concealed carry permit, what’s next?

To recast himself as even more extreme than Corcoran and DeSantis, will Putnam start advocating for a return of witch trials? Probably best not to give him any ideas.

What are the odds that if we had a background check system protecting us from "sellouts," politicians like Adam Putnam would pass the test?

Comments
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18
Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Florence began lashing down on the Carolinas Thursday and was expected to make landfall early Friday, washing over dunes, downing trees and power lines and putting some 10 million people in the path of a potentially catastrophic storm. Flor...
Published: 09/13/18
Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Gov. Rick Scott has headed down a dangerous path by announcing he has started the process to fill three upcoming vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court as he heads out the door. But to his credit, the governor indicated his "expectation’’ is that he ...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18
Editorial: Stalled U.S.-Cuba relations hurting Florida business

Editorial: Stalled U.S.-Cuba relations hurting Florida business

After an encouraging start, the breakdown in America’s reset with Cuba is a loss for both sides and for the state of democracy across the region. Havana and Washington are both to blame, but the Trump administration’s hard line with Cuba is out of sy...
Published: 09/12/18
Lessons from Moonves’ ouster

Lessons from Moonves’ ouster

If the swift departure of CBS Chairman Les Moonves has a bright side, it’s that a major television network took accusations of sexual harassment against its chief executive seriously enough to hold him accountable and obtain his resignation even at t...
Published: 09/11/18
Updated: 09/14/18
Editorial: Banks should not shut down campaign accounts for marijuana ties

Editorial: Banks should not shut down campaign accounts for marijuana ties

Two banks have taken the retaliatory step of closing down the campaign account of a statewide candidate because she received contributions from the medical marijuana industry. Nikki Fried, the Democratic nominee for agriculture commissioner, has been...
Published: 09/10/18
Updated: 09/14/18
Editorial: Florida Supreme Court wisely kills misleading charter school amendment

Editorial: Florida Supreme Court wisely kills misleading charter school amendment

Voters should know what they’re voting on, which is why the Florida Supreme Court was entirely correct to strike the deviously worded Amendment 8 from the Nov. 6 ballot. The amendment would have significantly expanded charter schools in Florida by le...
Published: 09/10/18
Updated: 09/11/18
Editorial: Genshaft steered USF to new heights — and it should keep climbing

Editorial: Genshaft steered USF to new heights — and it should keep climbing

University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft, who announced Monday she will retire in July, will leave behind a remarkable legacy. The university’s longest-serving president led USF’s transformation from a commuter school to a destination univ...
Published: 09/10/18