By Ralph De La Cruz
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this item incorrectly reported the amount Florida charges for a concealed weapons permit. The fee is $117, as reader Jeff Morelock noted in the comments below.
Florida lawmakers, it seems, are having a Bugs Bunny moment.
You know — making the infamous wrong turn at Albuquerque. Because it seems they’ve mistaken Florida for Arizona.
First, there was newly elected Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign pledge to bring Arizona-style immigration enforcement to the Sunshine State, which was quickly embraced by some legislators.
And now, there’s a movement in Tallahassee to relax Florida’s gun laws. Which is kind of like pushing to relax America’s nutritional standards. There wasn’t much there to begin with. What’s to relax?
You already don’t need a license to get a gun here. Getting a concealed weapons permit is as easy as filling out a piece of paper, getting ink on your fingers, and coming up with $112 $117. And you can shoot someone not just if they’re on your property but if you feel endangered.
But apparently not being able to openly carry a gun is too much of a burden for state Sen. Greg Evers of Crestview. In December, as Florida faced a $3.6 billion budget shortfall and historic unemployment, he focused his attention on SB 234. Evers’ bill would make it legal for Floridians to walk around like the guy outside Barack Obama’s Town Hall meeting in Phoenix.
That would be Phoenix, where it’s legal to step out on the town armed like a bad guy in a Jason Statham movie.
Phoenix, as in … Arizona.
The place where — even though they have among the most lenient gun laws in the country, even though they just had a massacre in a grocery store parking lot — the legislature wants to … relax gun laws.
Last year, Arizona lawmakers made it legal to carry concealed weapons without a permit, something that Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik said was a factor in the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others this month in a Safeway parking lot.
So Evers is just one year behind the Grand Canyon State. I suppose next session we can look forward to a bill making it legal to pack heat on college campuses. That’s the gun liberalization du jour in Arizona these days.
And our leaders also seem to be following Arizona’s sandy lead when it comes to immigration.
Gov. Scott ran on the promise of passing legislation that mirrored Arizona’s SB 1070, which mandates that immigrants always carry immigration papers, and requires police to question anyone they suspect of being undocumented. And Scott’s initiative was well-received by some legislators.
But since then, it appears the copycat immigration law hasn’t gotten traction in this state of immigrants.