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Daniel Ruth

More madness in gun-happy Florida

Out in Tucson the blood on the sidewalks in barely dry. Yet one would think the Florida Legislature is vying to become the candlelight memorial capital of the country.

We've already established to the rest of the nation that Florida leads the way when it comes to the vast numbers of crazies strolling the streets. And that's just Tallahassee.

And to ensure the state's penchant for turning incredibly insane ideas into laws, this year's Legislature, a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Rifle Association, promises to add even more unhinged gun bills to the books to make it easier for people to kill each other.

Talk about going off half-cocked.

You would think that after the murders of six people and while U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords continues her long recovery after being shot in the head by a deranged gunman armed with more bullets than reality, this might be a time for reflection and some rationality when it comes to regulating the ownership of weapons.

Civilized societies tend to do those sorts of things. But this is Florida, the Gunshine State, where barely conscious yahoos can arm themselves right up to the drool. The Florida Legislature seems hellbent on turning the state into something out of The Wild Bunch.

Three pieces of … uh … so-called legislation to relax the state's gun laws (such as they are) await lawmakers this session. One would restrict local governments from regulating firearms. Another would prohibit doctors from even asking patients about guns (sigh). A third would permit licensed gun owners to publicly wear their weapons outside their clothing, including at such locales as a college campus.

Say, that ought to really encourage academic freedom.

It was only days ago that a liquored-up Florida State University student accidentally killed his girlfriend's twin sister while he was playing around with his AK-47 assault rifle in a fraternity house.

And now the bandoleer court jesters in the Florida Legislature want to make it even easier for folks to openly cavort about our universities with weapons.

This isn't a state legislative body. It's a sleepover at Rambo's house.

But perhaps the most delusional bill is sponsored by Sen. Greg Evers, R-You Talking To Me?, which would make it illegal and punishable with a $5 million fine for any doctor to ask a patient about guns, or to include firearm ownership information in a medical record.

If you think Evers' First Amendment assault on the doctor-patient privilege has about as much chance at passage as Jared Loughner merely getting probation for his alleged role in the Arizona shootings, well, don't be so hasty.

Last year, the Florida Legislature passed and then-Gov. Charlie Crist, while he was still a Republican dutifully pandering to the gun lobby in his effort to win a U.S. Senate seat, signed into a law a measure that prevented adoption agencies from factoring in gun ownership when determining the placement of children with prospective parents.

Good grief, at this rate it is going to be harder to pass a background muster with a canine rescue organization to adopt a goldendoodle than to adopt a child.

There is no argument that gun owners can't be responsible adoptive parents. Of course they can. But shouldn't any adoption agency have a right to know before it places a child with a family if any potential hazards exist in the home? This isn't a paranoid assault on gun rights. It's merely common sense.

By the standards imposed by Evers, R-Lock & Load, a psychiatrist treating a patient for depression would be barred from determining if the patient owns a weapon, or even making a note about it. A doctor prescribing medication that may induce mental side effects could be precluded from asking if the patient owns a weapon — and, again, prevented from adding a notation to the patient file.

Leave it to the NRA's walking black helicopter, Marion Hammer, to get her Glock in a wad by insisting that allowing medical records to include gun information is merely a nefarious way for the government to eventually develop a list of who owns weapons.

When two-thirds of all homicides committed in the United States are the result of gun violence and with the memories of the Tucson massacre still all too vivid, reasonable — and responsible — legislators would be better served exploring ways to lessen the carnage. Goodness knows there's no shortage of body bags to make the case for more stringent efforts to reduce the nation's preoccupation with graveside services.

Instead, the Florida Legislature is increasing the targets of opportunity.

More madness in gun-happy Florida 01/20/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 20, 2011 6:30pm]
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