The Leon County Commission is scheduled to conduct a public hearing Tuesday night to discuss a proposed gun show loophole ordinance pushed by Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley.
I’ve known Mary Ann for years and when she last suggested this bad idea, I called her, and she later withdrew the proposal.
Why is this idea wrong-headed and counter-productive?
Because it feeds into the unwarranted belief that it will do something about gun violence.
It’s the same thing that the Florida Legislature tried to do, and they missed the mark as well, but that’s for another column.
The concept that criminals and/or gang members go to gun shows to buy their weapons is laughable on its face.
Because if that were the case, law enforcement or undercover officers would be at every show to monitor and arrest where appropriate these criminals and gang members.
It’s farcical to think anyone with ill intent would go to a gun show because there would be some record-keeping or recollection from the seller about the gun buyer.
No, it’s much, much easier to buy a Saturday Night Special or, for that matter, an AR-15 from a secretive gun dealer who doesn’t want any record of a purchase and wants to get it off their hands right away.
And the price, well, it’s a lot lower on the street mostly because of its unknown providence or the fact that it’s a stolen weapon.
So, the idea that by making legitimate gun buyers have to wait three days or more and have their background checked is going to keep criminals and gang members away, when they don’t go there in the first place is why this idea is misguided.
Instead, you’re simply going to trample on the Second Amendment rights of people who want to buy a gun or long gun.
Sheriff Walt McNeil has said his officers aren’t going to attend gun shows to keep the wrong people from buying a weapon, although you can certainly bet that if he knew criminals or gang members were going to be buying guns, he’d sure have a detail stake out the show.
Instead, the idea now is to have Code Enforcement officers (CEOs) to do the work of law enforcement officers.
This is a silly idea.
CEOs don’t have any arrest powers, they don’t even have the authority to ask questions or compel people to answer them.
They can’t confiscate any guns either because they have no authority, and they aren’t even trained for this task.
All of this is being proposed to do what? Catch people illegally buying guns.
Except there’s not a hint of evidence that anyone who is not supposed to buy a gun at a show is actually doing so.
I know every member of the County Commission very well except its newest member. These aren’t stupid people. In fact, I have a great deal of respect for all of them.
But, commissioners, don’t be pushed into making a misguided step in the name of making our community safer.
If you want to make us all safer, commit more financial resources to the South side of our community where most of the crimes already occur.
Where most of the drug dealing is going on.
Where most of the ex-felons probably live.
Where most of the shooting happens.
Just yesterday, An African-American Democratic legislator from South Florida -- Shevrin Jones -- whom I know well, was quoted in the Tampa Bay Times, as saying “Our communities don’t care about whether you do a background check. Because we’re not going to the store to buy a gun. We’re going to buy them illegally.”
Waiting periods don’t impact criminals or gang members because they get their guns on the street, and moreover no criminal or gang member is going to pay a sales tax.
Think about it.
Commissioners, don’t take this knee-jerk reactionary position because all you’re going to do is make it more expensive to buy a gun for any citizen of Leon County.
Your job is NOT to make guns tougher to get for our citizenry. Your job is to make it tougher for criminals and gang members to get their guns as they use them to terrorize us and our neighborhoods, to maim and kill people.
Leave us law-abiding citizens alone, please.
Barney Bishop III is a Tallahassee-based lobbyist and president and CEO of Barney Bishop Consulting, LLC. He has a Concealed Gun Permit and is a 2nd Amendment advocate. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org