Ruth: Allowing guns everywhere won't make Floridians safer

Published Feb. 6, 2017

It was Mark Twain who famously — and accurately — ruminated that "no man's life or property are safe when the legislature is in session." You might want to add additional at-risk elements such as common sense, brain function, scruples, independence, work ethics, intellectual curiosity and public service.

The Florida Legislature is preparing to begin its 2017 session next month, which is really another way of saying we're in for 60 days of pure Tallahassee stupid.

It is axiomatic that another legislative feedbag means more bills will be filed to make it easier for Floridians to shoot each other with more abandon and less accountability than the officiating of a World Wrestling Entertainment eye-gouge-fest.

It has fallen to Sen. Greg Steube, R-Yes Ms. Hammner, Whatever You Want Ms. Hammer, to serve as the 2017 stooge for the National Rifle Association in Tallahassee, which is an old Seminole word for "a blank check of lobbyists."

The Sarasota Renfield of the NRA has filed a number of bills that would make packing heat in the Gunshine State even more widespread. A word of advice: Start ducking now.

Steube has introduced a measure that would hold private enterprises that ban those with permits to carry concealed weapons from carrying on company property to be legally liable for any damages should a crazed nutball commit a mass shooting.

According to Steube's twisted reasoning, if a theater, bar or perhaps shopping mall bans firearms on its property and a deranged killer with ready access to a gun decides to go on a murderous rampage, it's the fault of the private business.

If anyone is at fault for a mass shooting in this state it is the Florida Legislature — always happy to sell itself out to Marion Hammer, the NRA's Madame Defarge of Smith & Wesson — which has made getting access to weapons increasingly easier.

You can always tell when a gun proposal is truly Col. Kurtz crazy. That's when Hammer defends it by casually observing that Steube's bill "merely codifies" the notion businesses have an obligation to protect their patrons. Nothing to see here.

Of course a business has an obligation to protect customers. And what better place to start than to prohibit customers from bringing a gun into the store, bar or movie theater?

It is noteworthy that before Steube offered up his anti-commerce gun measure, he told Kristen Clark of the Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau that he never bothered to consult with anyone in the business community about how they might feel for being held legally liable for a mass shooting tacitly enabled by none other than the Florida Legislature.

Why bother asking business owners for their opinions before attempting to put them on the hook for a criminal act? They're only going to get all namby-pamby and start muttering silly stuff about public safety. After all, the only constituency Steube, R-And Did You Enjoy Your Pedicure Ms, Hammer?, is interested in appeasing is the NRA and its First Lady of Glocks.

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And when it comes to appeasing the gun lobby, Steube has turned into the Marshal Petain of Tallahassee. He has been busy churning out one gun proposal after another, including one lifting the ban on concealed weapons in airport terminals. What could possibly go wrong there?

Steube also wants to allow people to have their little friends with them at legislative meetings, career centers, public college and university campuses and even some areas of courthouses, measures a vast majority of law enforcement, university officials and other public safety professionals and experts — people who actually know what they are talking about — roundly condemn.

They don't count. Only Hammer, she who must not be dismayed, counts.

Do you get the suspicion folks like Steube won't rest until the state symbol is a body bag?

What do you suppose the odds might be that by end of this session, Steube will file a bill mandating the entire inmate population of the state be allowed to have guns since, let's be honest, prisons are pretty dangerous places?

What happens if a con with a smuggled gun shot an unarmed prisoner? By Steube's standards, the aggrieved inmate might be able to sue the Department of Corrections, which is required to keep its population safe, for some hefty damages.

You think that's absurd? Don't forget, this is Florida, the Duh-shine state.