April 04, 2013

Miami Senator calls on Scott to stop flow of 'armor piercing' bullets

 Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, said armor-piercing bullets have become ubiquitous in his district and is asking Gov. Rick Scott to do something about it.

In a letter to Scott’s office Thursday, Bullard called on Scott to begin an investigation into the flow of deadly bullets into South Florida, calling them "military-grade" and saying his constituents are living in "open war zones."

“As night falls in many of these communities, families gather before twilight not to feast, but to fear,” he wrote. “They lock themselves in to lock out those who prey the streets with high powered weapons that pierce a home’s walls as effortlessly as they pierce a child’s body.”

Bullard also lamented the fact that several gun control bills are languishing in the Florida Legislature, which has been reluctant to entertain the gun debate.

Here’s Bullard’s letter to Scott:

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March 21, 2013

Poll: Voters in the ‘Gunshine State’ want tougher gun laws, and Hillary

Florida voters support universal background checks for gun purchases, other gun control laws and Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University.

The poll, released Thursday, found that 91 percent of Florida voters support universal background checks for all gun purchases.

“The idea of requiring background checks on those who want to buy guns has overwhelming support, 91 - 8 percent, in a country where getting a majority to agree on anything is often difficult,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Floridians also support Hillary Clinton more than their homegrown political stars, Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush. In a head-to-head matchup, Clinton leads Bush 51 to 40 percent and outpolls Rubio 52 to 41 percent.

By a 51-44 percent margin, Florida voters support stricter gun control laws in the state, with majorities of voters backing an assault weapons ban and a ban on high capacity magazines.

Florida’s results track many of the results found by pollsters in other states, despite the fact that the Sunshine State is one of the most gun-friendly in the country. In December, Florida surpassed 1 million concealed carry permits, a number that leads the nation.

Those who own guns have very different opinions about gun control, with 61 percent opposed to stricter gun laws and 57 percent opposing an assault weapons ban. Still, gun owners support universal background checks by an 88-11 percent margin. The Florida Legislature has mostly avoided the gun debate this year, as several gun control bills have languished after being filed. 

Below are a few more results from the poll:

Continue reading "Poll: Voters in the ‘Gunshine State’ want tougher gun laws, and Hillary" »

March 06, 2013

Universal gun background check bill filed, sponsor admits its a tough sell

Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, introduced the “Universal Background Check Act” on Wednesday, filing a gun control bill that requires virtually all sales of firearms to be conducted through licensed dealers.

The bill would require non-licensed individuals that want to sell or “transfer” a gun to do so through a licensed dealer. The gun control bill faces long odds in Florida’s gun-friendly, Republican-dominated Legislature, something Sachs readily acknowledged.

“I am not so sold on the idea that this bill is going to pass, “ said Sachs. “What I am looking forward to, and I am furious about his as so many Floridians are, let’s have the discussion. Let’s bring everyone to the table and let’s have this discussion.”

Licensed dealers are required to conduct background checks prior to selling firearms but so-called "loopholes” in the law allow some gun sales to occur without a background check, something that Congress and the White House are considering addressing.

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March 04, 2013

Steve Crisafulli officially chosen as House Speaker for 2014

Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, was officially appointed as the incoming Republican Leader of the Florida House of Representatives for 2014 on Monday.

If, as expected, Republicans etain their majority in the 120-member House in 2014, Crisafulli will be the state’s next House Speaker, occupying one of the most powerful positions in state government.

“It is an honor for me to be a small part of this ceremony, and a special day for a very close friend,” said current House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

Crisafulli was chosen for the post a week after last year’s election, when designated Speaker-in-waiting Rep. Chris Dorworth (R-Lake Mary) was defeated in a shocking upset.

As speaker-designate, Crisafulli will play a major role raising money and getting Republicans elected in 2014.

“No one who’s blessed with this opportunity gets here on his own,” said Crisafulli, in a speech where he thanked a slew of people and got emotional at times.

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February 22, 2013

Stand Your Ground task force: It's a good law

A 19-member task force commissioned by Gov. Rick Scott to review Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has put out its final report, largely voicing its support for the law.

The task force made a handful of recommendations for the Legislature, but began the report by stating that, at its core, the self-defense law is fine as it is.

“All persons who are conducting themselves in a lawful manner have a fundamental right to stand their ground and defend themselves from attack with proportionate force in every place they have a lawful right to be,” the report reads.

The controversial law grants immunity to people who use force, including deadly force, in response to a perceived threat of bodily harm. It was thrust into the spotlight last year after Miami Gardens teenager Trayvon Martin was shot to death in Sanford by a man who later claimed self-defense under Stand Your Ground. The shooter, neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, was initially not charged, but now awaits trial on second-degree murder charges.

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll chaired the task force, which held statewide hearings and consisted of two lawmakers who drafted the Stand Your Ground law and others who voted for it. Police, lawyers and neighborhood watch volunteers were also appointed. Critics blasted the group's makeup from the outset, predicting that it would not push for any significant changes to the law.

The recommendations the group did come up with include reconsidering the state’s 10-20-Life law, tightening standards for neighborhood watch groups and commissioning a study to look into issues of racial disparities and unintended consequences of Stand Your Ground.

The task force also urged the Legislature to consider whether Stand Your Ground should apply when an innocent bystander is caught in the crossfire and to clarify whether or not the law’s immunity provision prohibits police from detaining and questioning a shooter.

Two task force members -- Miami-Dade State attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and Tallahassee-based pastor Rev. R.B. Holmes -- each submitted letters indicating they wished the group had pushed for more significant changes.

“I have also seen not only from the experiences in my Office, but from the testimony of our citizens and experts who came before our Task Force, that the law has had some consequences which I believe were unintended,” Fernandez-Rundle wrote in a letter attached to the report. She said the law’s “immunity” provision should be scrapped.

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January 20, 2013

High prices, Obama-noia at Miami gun show

The Miami gun-show line stretched 200 people long. Many blamed President Barack Obama.

This is what the president’s gun-control talk has wrought: long waits to get into gun shows, higher firearm and ammunition prices and more paranoia.

The word “Obama” was frequently mumbled, muttered, hissed, cursed at Saturday’s Southern Classic Gun and Knife Show.

“Obama” was a catch-all word, a gun-rights shibboleth of sorts, a no-longer-shocking swear, a conversation starter.

To Calvin Hudson, a Miami Gardens resident bargain-hunting at the Miami-Dade fairgrounds firearms bazaar, the Obama-blaming was a sign people were being fooled into paying more in a firearms market panic.

“The industry is getting people all scared of Obama so they can kill us with some of these prices,” Hudson said.

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Tax breaks flow to gun manufacturers, violent films and games

What do violent video games, gory movies and high-powered assault weapons have in common?

They have all been blamed for tragic mass shootings, including last month’s at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. — and are all subsidized by Florida taxpayers.

With Florida’s tax code more business-friendly in recent years, economic incentives and tax breaks have flowed to companies and industries currently under fire for their roles in America’s gun violence.

Meanwhile, the state has cut funding for mental healthcare and school safety programs, two areas at the forefront of the national gun-control debate.

While it has become more difficult and expensive to access mental healthcare in Florida, it is getting easier and cheaper to obtain high-powered weapons.

Read more here

WHO GETS WHAT

 

Guns  
Colt Manufacturing $1.6 million subsidy
Adams Arms $208,8000
Kel Tec CNC $14,675
Violent movies/TV  
Pain & Gain $4.2 million
Parker $424,820
I am Number 4 Amount unknown
Spring Breakers $814,695
Burn Notice $11.4 million (2011/12)
Alguien te Mira $1.1 million
Video games  
Electronic Arts (Medal of Honor, other games) $9.1 million
Digital Domain (Assassin’s Creed, Halo) $135 million
n-Space (Call of Duty 3: Modern Warfare) $126,206
Mental health funding vetoes  
Seminole Behavioral Health $350.000
345 8 Pinellas Receiving Facility $250,000
Baptist Health Care Lakeview Center $1.5 million
Manatee Glens County Crisis Stabilization $750,000
Indigent Psychiatric Medication Program $500,000

January 18, 2013

Video: Marco Rubio on guns, immigration and why his plan isn't 'amnesty'

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's latest immigration plan looks a lot like a President Obama plan, which looked a lot like a President George W. Bush plan. So while he whacks the president on guns in the video below, Rubio gives some measure of praise to the president for his position on legalizing the status of many illegal immigrants.

Rubio said his plan isn't "amnesty," though, because people would have to pay a penalty, back taxes and couldn't get welfare or many social services if they tried to have their status legalized.

"I define amnesty as a special pathway to citizenship. Our plan is not that," Rubio said.

January 10, 2013

Gov. Scott is a no-show on call with other govs and president over guns

Vice President Joe Biden, heading up White House talks on gun control, held a conference call with the nation's governors yesterday, including some who have been sharply critical of the president. Gov. Rick Scott, who was traveling the state Wednesday, did not participate.

"During the calls, the vice president listened to the unique perspectives of all the participants and solicited their ideas and input on how to curb gun violence in this country," the White House said. "The vice president reiterated the administration’s commitment to this urgent issue, and stressed that the problem requires immediate action."

Scott's office today confirmed he was invited but pointed to his busy schedule, which took him to Jacksonville for a Vistakon-Johnson and Johnson Vision Care news conference then a Parametric Solutions jobs announcement in Jupiter.

Though all governors were invited, Scott was not the only no-show. A list of participants below.

Scott has generally dodged questions on the gun debate following the Connecticut school shootings. Tweeted AP reporter Gary Fineout yesterday: "During Jax TV spot @FLGovScott ducks questions on whether to ban assault weapons. Says there will be 'conversation' about guns in 13 session."

Continue reading "Gov. Scott is a no-show on call with other govs and president over guns" »

January 09, 2013

Florida gave subsidy to gun maker as part of job creation package

Bloomberg's Mike Bender reports today on tax breaks dished to gun manufacturers, raising questions about the $1.6 million tax subsidy given to Colt on Florida. An excerpt:

In Florida, Republican Governor Rick Scott hailed an incentive for the West Hartford, Connecticut-based Colt Manufacturing Co. in 2011 saying it showed the state was “a defender of our right to bear arms.” The deal, for 63 jobs, was worth about $1.66 million in state and local incentives, according to Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development arm. The agreement penalizes the company $50,000 if it doesn’t produce all the jobs.

Frank Attkisson, a commissioner in Osceola County, which provided incentives, said it was a “sweetheart deal” for Colt and that the county would put tougher controls on future subsidies.

Florida state Senator Nancy Detert, the Republican chairwoman of the Commerce Committee, said she’s crafting legislation to make it more difficult to provide incentives for companies that don’t specialize in science and technology. She said she doesn’t want Florida to be known for gun manufacturing.

“We need to be a lot more careful and decide what kind of state we envision,” Detert said.