Friday, 08 March 2013

Florida Lawmakers Want Anger Management Training Required for Buying Ammo

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As gun-control advocates continue to seek creative new ways to limit the Second Amendment rights of American citizens, a wide variety of legislation has been introduced on the state and federal levels which would limit access to weapons, limit the size of magazines, or restrict sales of ammunition. But among the host of proposed laws and regulations, few have been met with the mixture of humor and horror from Second Amendment advocates that a bill introduced in Florida has elicited. In the Sunshine State, State Senator Audrey Gibson (D-District 9) has filed Senate Bill 1678, which would require mandatory anger-management training for any Floridian seeking to purchase ammunition.

The panoply of unconstitutional and even silly ideas which have been circulated in the aftermath of the mid-December tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, has often exasperated self-defense advocates, but Gibson’s bill struck many of them as a bad joke. Sean Caranna, the executive director of Florida Carry, told FoxNews March 6, “When I first saw it, I thought it had to be a joke. They’re trying to say that anyone who owns a gun or shoots a gun or has ammunition for it needs counseling and obviously has some anger problems.” And, given the ongoing debt crisis which exists at virtually every level of government, as well as a host of real issues that needs to be addressed by elected representatives, Caranna could hardly believe that Gibson would waste the senate’s time with her proposal. "We’ve got a lot of issues that should be the focus of these bill slots with limited filing, but instead we put in something as ridiculous as this,” he said. “I don’t see a planet where this passes. This is an attempt to grab attention — it has to be. And that’s really disappointing."

SB1678 was filed on March 2 and referred to subcommittee on March 7. A similar bill, HB1229, was filed in the Florida House of Representatives on March 1 by Rep. Perry E. Thurston, Jr. (D-District 94). It remains to be seen whether either bill will ever receive serious consideration in the House or the Senate, but if it was intended to raise the blood pressure of gun owners in Florida, then it has accomplished its purpose. And for Gibson, the notion that the state would impose a mandatory two-hour anger management course before citizens could buy ammunition for their firearms is only the beginning; NBC affiliate WPTV quotes her willingness to consider such requirements to possession of a driver’s license, as well: “She also feels the intent of the bill could be applied when it comes to people obtaining driver's licenses. ‘I think it's an excellent idea and maybe I'll file that bill next,’ said Gibson."

According to the report from FoxNews, under Gibson’s proposed legislation, it would be unlawful to:

  1. "Sell ammunition to another person who does not present certification that he or she has successfully completed an anger-management program consisting of at least 2 hours of online or face-to-face instruction in anger-management techniques,” the bill reads. “The certification must be renewed every 10 years."
  2. "Purchase or otherwise obtain ammunition by fraud, false pretense, or false representation.”

The first violation of the statute would be a second-degree misdemeanor, but a second conviction within two years would be a first-degree misdemeanor. Under Florida law, a conviction for a second-degree misdemeanor can carry a jail term as long as 60 days; for a first-degree misdemeanor, that period would be lengthened to up to one year. With the possibility that the sale of a box of ammunition could result in a year of jail time simply because a potential purchaser lacks proof of anger management training strains credulity because of the utter lack of proportionality. As Jon Gutmacher, an Orlando attorney and author of Florida Firearms: Law, Use & Ownership, told, “It has no reasonable relationship to anything. There has to be a reasonable basis to believe that a person had a substantial anger problem that could cause public harm.”

Gutmacher said he found the bill to be an “insult” to any gun owner in the Sunshine State.

“It’s absurd on its face,” he continued. “And anyone who proposes that legislation is in my mind unfit for the legislature because it shows a basic problem with their thinking process, aside from their lack of understanding of what the Constitution is all about. That’s the kind of bill that doesn’t even get past committee.”

The problem is that Gutmacher’s words could easily serve as a summary of most gun-control proposals which have been introduced in the past two months. When politicians seek to restrict a constitutionally enumerated fundamental right, citizens who are concerned about the preservation of their liberties have a right to feel insulted. And for Floridians left wondering why the bills introduced by Thurston and Gibson must now waste valuable time and endanger civil liberties, the more pressing question is whether legislators can be required to taking remedial training in civics and logic until they can prove that they understand the relationship between cause and effect and have an appreciation for the Bill of Rights enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.


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