Florida Gun Rights Advocates Discuss Their Secret Weapon at Capitol Rally
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Critics might easily dismiss them as a bunch of trigger-happy nut jobs. But the 60 or so Second Amendment advocates who rallied at the Florida Capitol a few days ago would argue there’s nothing nuts about standing up for their constitutional rights.
Federal gun-control efforts, they say, have put them under attack.
“Federal tax dollars are being used to coerce state leaders into controlling guns and it’s getting worse,” said another speaker.
At least a few state legislators agree, sponsoring bills in support. Others dropped by to speak to the group one day ahead of the first legislative committee meetings of 2014.
“If you take the Bill of Rights seriously,” state Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lee, told Watchdog.org, “the First and Second Amendments are rights the federal government cannot infringe on. But that clearly is not the case, not for many years.”
An overstatement? Not according to Bill Wohlsifer, a libertarian candidate for Florida attorney general. Wohlsifer supports same-sex marriage, medical marijuana, amnesty for illegal immigrants and the states’ rights doctrine of nullification -- a state’s refusal to enforce an unconstitutional federal law.
“The idea is not new to Florida,’ said Wohlsifer. “(Nullification) is exactly what former Attorney General Bill McCollum relied on when he challenged Obamacare.”
Combined with a lawsuit from the National Federation of Independent Business, Florida’s Obamacare challenge was taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court and decided in June 2012.
“That was a proper civil challenge, not anarchy,” he said.
Tuesday’s rally was organized by the Florida Citizens’ Alliance, an enthusiastic coalition of residents and representatives of groups from across the state. Their direct aim is to pass legislation called the Second Amendment Preservation Act.
The bill would prohibit any federal law, executive order or bureaucratic regulation from curbing the exercise of Second Amendment rights within Florida. It includes penalties for any state or local employees who assist federal agencies in enforcing gun-control measures that contradict state law.
“Twenty states rejected the Defense of Marriage Act because it was a federal overreach,” said Wohlsifer. “Marijuana is a drug listed within the Federal Controlled Substance Act, but 20 states nullified it.
“That’s exactly what we’re trying to do here in Florida with regard to the Second Amendment,” he said.
When asked if the Preservation Act is necessary in a pro-gun state such as Florida, Caldwell told Watchdog.org the goal is to create binding legislation.
Caldwell is also co-sponsoring a bill calling for a constitutional convention of states to address the expansion of power and jurisdiction of the federal government. Legislatures in Wisconsin and Virginia have done the same.
In the state Senate, Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, filed a bill that would create a commission on federalism. If passed, the commission would meet six times a year and evaluate whether any federal laws were in violation of their constitutional authority.
“Four states have constitutional carry laws,” Richard Mack, a retired sheriff and president of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, told Watchdog.org. “That means 46 states have unconstitutional carry laws.”
The tenacity of groups like the Citizens’ Alliance is credited with defeating President Obama’s push last year to significantly increase gun controls nationwide. That’s an event not lost on those attending the rally.
“The federal government has thoroughly forgotten what their relationship (with Florida) is supposed to be,” Caldwell said.
Contact William Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Florida Watchdog on Twitter at @watchdogfla.