Yesterday, on a dark day for democracy, when the United States Senate failed to advance a bipartisan background check proposal, the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature felt it necessary to pass House Memorial 545, which warns federal officials not to infringe on the rights of gun owners.
“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes,” said bill sponsor Representative Neil Combee, quoting a 19th century essay by Cesare Beccaria. “Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants.”
When a Democratic lawmaker pointed out that the Manchin-Toomey compromise on expanded background checks failed in the U.S. Senate, some lawmakers burst into applause in the chamber.
“Let’s let liberty ring,” proclaimed Rep. John Wood.
That’s all well and good. That the Florida Legislature is but an adjunct of the National Rifle Association is long-established fact. No one disputes this.
The only question is why did Tampa Bay Democrats Dwight Dudley and Carl Zimmermann vote in favor of this resolution? Their votes have provoked outrage among those who supported them during the last election.
“We do not need two otherwise reasonable people kowtowing to political gimmickry and made up nonsense,” remarked St. Petersburg attorney and political consultant Johnny Bardine on his Facebook page.
“Oh, Carl and Dwight, how could you?” wondered longtime Democratic activist Helen Briley.
Perhaps this is an isolated vote, one on which Dudley and Zimmermann — both representing battleground legislative district — did not want to be used against them in next year’s elections.
But yesterday, both in Tallahasseee and Washington, D.C., was a day of sticking to your principles.
Shame on Reps. Dudley and Zimmermann for abandoning theirs, even if its temporary.