Friday, August 17, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Adam Putnam sells out to the NRA

This didn't take long, did it?

If you want to get elected to office in Florida, a politician is obligated to grovel before the great and powerful National Rifle Association, which views Tallahassee as a wholly owned subsidiary of its interests.

So Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican candidate for governor, went on an NRA boot-licking tour a few days ago. He noted what a swell idea it is to permit gun owners to carry their little friends on college campuses, as well as endorsing proposals to allow the open carry of weapons in public places.

Yep, this chap is really running for governor. It is entirely possible by the time the 2018 campaign gets into full swing, the Opie of open carry will be suggesting that any newborn infant in the state should be given a Glock in the maternity ward.

It should hardly come as much of a surprise that Putnam would be hitting the campaign trail as a NRA marionette. Think of the agriculture commissioner as the Howdy Doody of Smith & Wesson.

You would think the Department of Agriculture's home web page would have information about the scourge of citrus greening, or perhaps tips on how to plant a begonia. Instead, there is advice on how to obtain a concealed carry weapons permit in Florida, which Putnam has been gleefully handing out like campaign brochures, which in a way they are.

Putnam made his remarks about his belief that guns should be more ubiquitous in Florida than sand while standing before a group of National Guard members. He argued that because of their firearms training they are uniquely qualified to be allowed to carry weapons on university campuses.

Putnam has so wrapped himself around the Second Amendment it is probably only a matter of time before he shows up at campaign events decked out as Patrick Henry.

While the candidate was exploiting the National Guard members as political props, he conveniently overlooked that the campus carry/open carry issue has been opposed by a majority of Florida law enforcement officials, as well as university presidents, administrators and faculty, who argue the measures will put the public as greater risk and make their jobs more difficult and dangerous.

But Putnam, much like the NRA-fawning Florida Legislature, doesn't care when there are votes to be mined among the bad-guy-behind-every-shrubbery crowd and NRA campaign contributions to be vacuumed up.

Putnam also took time during his "a gun in every pot" effort to decry a recent protest against the NRA, sneering that the demonstrations were merely "a classic progressive move. Desperate attempt to limit our Second Amendment rights." Uh, commissioner? Perhaps you might want to take a refresher course to remind yourself that while the Second Amendment may well send a tingle down your leg, we also have a First Amendment right to free expression.

At the center of the protests was a pro-NRA advertisement suggesting (with zero evidence) that more citizens need to be locked and loaded because the nation is on the cusp of a violent revolution that it hinted former President Barack Obama is leading, when he isn't otherwise engaged in windsurfing in the Bahamas or sipping mimosas in Bali.

Fear-mongering always has been a useful tool to help advance political ambition. On that score, Putnam is well on his way to making President Donald Trump look like the Dalai Lama. He was more than eager to drag out that old canard about how "law-abiding citizens" should have every right to be armed to the teeth in Florida. He neglected to mention since the state's incredibly stupid "stand your ground'' law went into effect more than 10 years ago, according to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Florida has seen an increase in firearm deaths.

Let us also not forget a Tampa Bay Times investigation that revealed a child in Florida is shot every 17 hours.

And that is the lesson lost on the faux Dirty Harry of Tallahassee. Everybody is a "law-abiding citizen" — until they pull the trigger.

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