By now, it is pretty much a certainty that anytime a state goes completely off the rails by passing some harebrained law, it is only a matter of time before Florida quickly moves to catch up with something even loopier. • For as Arizona and Georgia go, so goes Florida — the woebegone land of the misbegotten. We do have a national reputation for Tallahassee stupidity to maintain, you know. • Days ago the Georgia legislature passed one of the most sweeping pro-gun laws in the country. It allows weapons to be brandished virtually everywhere in the state, with one of the lone, rare exceptions being the Georgia legislature itself. Go figure.
Once the measure is signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal — gee, do ya think? — paranoid Georgians will be free to run around with guns in bars, schools, restaurants, churches and yes, even airports, which might suggest a whole new meaning for the departure gate at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Under the terms of the new law, police no longer will be able to stop someone carrying a gun in public to determine if he or she is legally allowed to be packing. And the state will be forbidden to maintain a database of those holding a carry permit. Afghanistan probably has more restrictive weapons laws.
You can probably rest assured that at this very moment, Florida state Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Yes Ms. Hammer, Whatever Your Say Ms. Hammer, the National Rifle Association's resident Tallahassee sedan chair, is hunched over a piece of paper, crayon in hand, attempting to out-goober Georgia.
This is no small task for Baxley. The Georgia Legislature has even managed to make it easier for hunters to cheat.
One element of the new Peach State law would permit hunters to use silencers while traipsing around the woods looking for animals to kill. This does not seem particularly sporting, does it?
Is this supposed to be an exercise in communing with the great outdoors, or a backwoods episode of The Sopranos?
When it comes to shooting critters, there is a decidedly uneven playing field already favoring hunters armed with sophisticated weaponry, high-powered scopes and other paraphernalia aimed at making it easier to knock off Bambi. And now the Georgia Legislature wants to turn the red clay woods into a Sunni Triangle sniper alley?
How fair is this? Or are Georgia hunters such lousy marksman they need to take the element of surprise — especially for the intended target — out of the equation?
Consider for a moment that you are Murgatroyd the buck, enjoying a pleasant day with your squeeze Trixie the doe. Suddenly, without any sound or warning, you look over to discover Trixie has just had her head blown off by a hunter with a silencer affixed to his 5,000-bullet-capacity magazine rifle. "That's odd," Murgatroyd thinks to himself, "I never heard a thing." And neither, apparently, did the late Trixie. And neither, seconds later, did Murgatroyd.
You could make a reasonable argument that one of the very few defenses a deer has against a waiting assassin is the remote chance to run away at the sound of gunfire. In the spirit of common decency, this is too much to ask?
And now the Georgia Legislature wants to deny wildlife even a remote chance to escape the cross-hairs of the brave, macho, keen-eyed hunters by turning the woods into a cone of silence. That's not hunting. It's grocery shopping.
This is a bit like Major League Baseball passing a rule that all hitters at the plate have to be blindfolded.
It would surprise no one if, in his quest to meet and surpass the Billy Bob gap with Georgia, Baxley would rewrite Florida's weapons laws to give every newborn an automatic concealed carry permit, allow prison inmates to have guns in their cells and replace the state seal with an image of the NRA's Marion Hammer.
When it comes to the state's wildlife, it's entirely possible Baxley would mandate Florida deer be fitted with a GPS tracking device — and a cowbell — to make it that much easier to find and silently shoot them.
As Georgia is sure to learn, when it comes to dippy gun laws you have to get up plenty early to out-Bubba Florida.