The road to Tallahassee was paved with a Wednesday pit stop at the Veterans Art Center in St. Petersburg for gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam, who shared his “conservative vision” to “push back against forces of the left that want Florida to be more like California or Illinois or New York or other failed states.”
John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads” played in the background.
Putnam, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, was introduced as a “devout husband, father and unabashed Christian.”
He said a top priority of his would be to make it easier for veterans to transition back to civilian life.
The first part of that, he said, would be in securing their second amendment rights, by expediting the applications of active military members for concealed weapons licenses.
“For our veterans, they go to the front of the line,” he said. “And not just because we want to honor our veterans, but because it wasn’t that long ago that a gunman went into an army reserves center in Chattanooga and started shooting up servicemen. And ISIS was publishing the names of servicemen and women and their families on the Internet.”
But Putnam said his views on the ease at which people should be able to obtain weapons have been misconstrued. He said he wants to align background check requirements for a concealed weapons license to that those required to purchase a firearm.
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“This is no way weakens the background requirements or in no way changes the fact that if you’re ineligible, you will be denied,” he said.
He would, however, make it easier for veterans to start businesses, he said, waiving the fees for their first businesses applications.
“We want veterans ... to be entrepreneurs who will fill these store fronts with their dreams that they had when they were marching across Afghanistan, going door to door in Fallujah or taking back from ISIS control territories throughout Iraq, you know they had in the back of their mind that dream, ‘when I get home, I’m going to open this. I’m going to start my own that. I’m going to build this,’” he said. “And we want them to do that in Florida….we want Florida to be the launchpad for everyone’s dreams.”
He also said he supports creating a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers, or undocumented immigrants who moved to the U.S. as kids, a part of President Donald Trump’s four-pillar immigration plan.
“I think it’s a responsible one,” Putnam said. “Children through no decision making of their own were brought here by their parents and are fully integrated into American life. … I think there’s no question that a number of these dreamers are in Florida.”
Putnam also said he wanted to make Florida friendlier to veterans by ensuring access to therapy. He spoke of his involvement with Operation Outdoor Freedom, which allowed veterans to hunt, fish and horseback ride as part of therapy.
Michael Lyman, a board member for the Veteran’s Art Center, said he was encouraged hearing Putnam’s support for preventing veteran suicide and alternative forms of therapy.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “We could use all the support we can get.”