Gun rights groups are unleashing their wrath at a Jacksonville Republican who didn’t support a measure to shift the Burden of Proof in Stand Your Ground in the Florida Legislature this year, and it could cost him a circuit judgeship.
Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, made headlines last month when he became the subject of a National Rifle Association email blast. In the email sent to supporters, NRA past president Marion Hammer instructed members to write emails to Gov. Rick Scott, who will appoint the 4th Circuit Court judge, and tell him they don’t want McBurney to become judge.
Last year, McBurney refused to hear a bill which would have shifted the Burden of Proof in Stand Your Ground cases, which ultimately led to the bill’s death in the 2016 Legislative Session.
“As Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Charles McBurney arrogantly put his blind ambition to become judge ahead of your constitutional right of self-defense and your basic fundamental right to the presumption of innocence,” wrote Hammer on McBurney’s decision.
The governor’s office received thousands of complaint emails, and it looks like Scott’s office hasn’t seen the end of it.
Nearly two weeks later, other statewide gun groups are piling on with the criticism, saying McBurney has disregarded the Second Amendment and urging their members to tell that he is “unfit” to be a judge.
Florida Carry, Inc., a grassroots pro-gun group in the Sunshine State, is also urging its own members to write Scott emails explaining why McBurney isn’t right for the position.
The groups have pitted themselves against McBurney, who has routinely been given the highest rating of an “A+” by the NRA.
They say his positions are at odds with what it means to be a judge, a job which requires people to be held to the highest standards of the law.
On top of that, they accuse McBurney of pandering to prosecutors, who have to support him if he becomes judge.
“Prosecutors don't like having to prove that the people they want to put in jail are actually guilty and fought against the ‘Burden of Proof’ bill,” wrote the group. “So, despite the Speaker's wishes, and prior promises to us, McBurney refused to give the bill a hearing and singlehandedly killed it. You have been betrayed.”
McBurney’s move to shelf the bill, the groups say, says a lot about the way he views the legal system, and not in a good way.
“Anyone who does not believe that people are innocent until proven guilty has no business being a Judge,” wrote Florida Carry.
McBurney launched a counterstrike against the critics, asking his own supporters to email the governor’s office and tell him why they feel he would be the right fit to be a judge.
“I'm writing today to ask you to email, call or snail mail the Governor's office and informing him of how we are acquainted (JC, legal, civic, religious, personal),” wrote McBurney. “I would also encourage you to share why you feel I am the most qualified candidate."
Sunshine State News contacted the governor’s office to determine just how many anti-McBurney and pro-McBurney emails it had received so far, but had not heard back at the time of this publishing.