Sunday, April 22, 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.

Comments
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18