As Florida's rubber-stamp GOP Legislature burns through its wingnut agenda faster than the shards of a 10mm Black Talon slug through a thug's internal organs, the nation's leader in gun-nuttery stands poised to pass a bevy of new laws to liberate handcannon culture from the pistol-prudes.
Here's a list of bills that are under consideration or already done deals. Gunshine State 4 life, baby:
The "More Guns During Riots" Bill
Do you own a gun and not have a concealed carry permit? Have you ever thought, "Gosh, I know the race riots are just around the corner, and I wish there was a way to legally carry my gun around in them without getting a dumb license"? Well, brother, the legislature is thinking of you.
This bill, which will likely sail through the House soon, "would allow people with clean criminal backgrounds to conceal firearms without a permit during emergencies," according to the Tampa Bay Times, "including riots and civil unrest like the 1996 racial disturbances that rocked St. Petersburg — declared by the governor or local officials."
Newspaper ed boards have called it dangerously vague. One county sheriff told the Times it's "the definition of insanity. The bill is crazy. It's absurd." But the NRA says that without it, "weapons left in homes during evacuations could be stolen by looters," which apparently is likelier and scarier to them than unlicensed wahoos going vigilante with their Tauruses and Glocks in the midst of civil mayhem. Or as we in Florida call it, "Saturday night."
The "Pop Tarts" Bill
This probably-soon-to-be law permits public-school students to wear weapons-related shirts and make guns out of things at school without fear of expulsion or suspension—a fear that ran high among NRA types after a 7-year-old pupil in Maryland was reportedly suspended for two days after biting a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun.
"If I point my finger at you you and go bang I can be expelled from school" and put in juvenile detention, says the sponsor of this bill. Well, you can, theoretically, if you do it ominously enough while pulling another kid's hair and throwing your biology-class dissection frog at him.
Florida-based NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer calls it the "Let Kids Be Kids" bill, because kids just wanna make things into guns, and you should let them. You should also permit them to wear your makeup, fake-smoke rolled-up report cards, get mad at the internet, mail faux-mortgage payments to the bank, and pretend their Ritalin is just like your valium and viagra, because hey, kids just love to play adult.
The "Armed Old Folks in Our Schools" Bill
This bill empowers schools in Florida "to appoint former or current law enforcement officers and former or current military officers with state-legislated training to carry firearms on campus."
As with most of these bills, the NRA backs it and the state sheriffs' association hates it. This one might actually face some challenges to passage, maybe, possibly.
What kind of training would these school non-cops have? 40 hours a year of school safety training, 8 hours of school-shooter training, and 4 hours of, like, actual shooting practice, which, shockingly, sounds a lot like the NRA's "arm teachers" recommendations after Sandy Hook.
The goal is to have these fair pistol-packing citizens so well-trained that they'd never, you know, accidentally shoot a kid who's pointing a gun-like Pop Tart at them. Also, these intrepid heroes would need concealed-weapons permits, obviously; I mean, what the hell do you think this is, a riot situation?
The "Make Licensing to Kill Easier" Bill
Getting a concealed weapons permit in Florida is hard. Well, it's not, really, but filing all the paperwork is hard, because you have to actually go someplace to do it. Fortunately, the Legislature has a solution: Expand the number of places you can file your gun-license application and pay your fee, by letting the state's tax collectors take your paperwork.
On one hand, it's kind of scary that there's so much demand for concealed carry permits, and such a large backlog processing these applications, that state legislators (read: the NRA) feel the need to make the process easier in this way.
On the other hand, when it passes, it's kind of hilarious to think of all the anti-tax survivalist types who'll probably saunter into the detested taxman's to get their concealed-carry on.
The "Warning Shots" bill
This bill—which may have been written by the NRA's top lobbyist, or a libertarian and close NRA friend from a Koch-connected lobby group, or both, depending on which bill-backer you believe—expands the state's Stand Your Ground law to offer criminal and civil immunity to anyone who brandishes or fires a gun off in "self-defense."
It was supposedly inspired by Marissa Alexander, an African-American woman who was sent to jail for a long time under the state's mandatory-minimum sentencing laws for gun felons after she fired at her abusive husband and missed. But despite the rhetoric of its supporters, the current bill barely addresses sentencing; it just offers defendants a new way to fight a conviction. So if arrestees like Alexander still get convicted, they're still likely to be screwed by the system.
But hey, the marketing worked. This one's already been passed and awaits Gov. Rick Scott's signature.
On the plus side, you can legally vent your anger at this injustice by shooting into the air. If the police come around, just tell them you felt threatened by... whatever.
[Photo credit: AP]