1. Opinion

Ruth: Florida gun permits soar along with paranoia

Published Jan. 5, 2013

In a land where Florida's official motto ought to be that old punch-line: "What are a redneck's last words? Hey, watch this!" do we really want to be known as the Gunshine State?

Apparently so. Recently, we reached the 1 million mark in the number of folks running around with concealed weapons permits. And the state's insane "stand your ground" law makes it so much easier and convenient for us to shoot each other over a fender-bender. Now comes word, that for 2012, Florida conducted 797,970 background checks associated with gun purchases.

And that figure doesn't include the number of weapons sales among goobers who managed to exploit the "gun show loophole," which permits the purchase of a firearm without being subjected to a background check.

Just a simple question.

We know about the million concealed carry permits. And we know it's even easier for drug dealers to shoot one another and walk out of court because of SYG. And we know of 797,970 gun sales that required a background check.

Now, given the legions of people running around the state with firearms in their possession, don't you think it's remotely possible that some of these individuals just might be certifiably loopier than Ezra Pound at an Area 51 convention?

The voluminous number of background checks is twice the number conducted in 2004, which might suggest while the population of Florida has certainly grown, it might also mean that we've doubled-down on the body politic's collective paranoia.

After all, background checks surged after the re-election of President Barack Obama and especially after the Newtown, Conn., shootings, which claimed 27 lives, including 20 children and the shooter's mother.

It's no surprise that fueling all this lock & load hovering black helicopter hand-wringing is the National Rifle Association, which if it had its way, would arm every kindergartner with a Tech-9 before they learned how to finger paint.

The NRA's Florida apparatchik, Marion Hammer, the Tugboat Annie of bandoleers, explained the rush to weaponize as a response to the unfounded belief that Obama wants to push for a gun ban. It's an odd reaction given that Obama did nothing during his first term to ban weapons and even signed into law a measure permitting visitors to the national parks to pack.

It is true after the massacre of 27 victims in Newtown, coming on the heels of similar mass murders in Colorado, Wisconsin, Arizona and Oregon, that Obama did suggest it might be a good idea to rethink allowing the sales of assault weapons, extended magazines and perhaps the ability of civilians to purchase body armor.

And that, it seems, is what set off the sales rush in Florida as countless silly people hurried to their neighborhood gun store to stock up.

Now heaven forbid this space would ever want to offend anyone.

But if you are that unhinged to think you need to start hoarding assault rifles, extended magazines and other high-powered weaponry because you think the United Nations is going to knock on your door, uh, doesn't that sort of make the case for why we need to get these guns off the streets and out of the hands of the Agenda 21 Chicken Little community?

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It's always worth noting many of the shooters in the recent spate of mass killers, owned their weapons legally and were perfectly "law abiding" citizens — right up to the moment, they pulled their perfectly legal triggers.