- - Thursday, November 25, 2021

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
— Plaque placed at the Statue of Liberty in 1903

Americans – tired of riots and woke politics, poorer from high taxes and increasingly unconstitutional regulations, huddled together as they flee crime and COVID-19 lockdowns, and yearning to breathe free from masks and mandates – are pouring into Florida.  

A recent study in the Sunshine State-based James Madison Institute’s (JMI) Journal noted that almost 1,000 people a day are moving to Florida at least in part to escape high taxes, spiking crime rates, and coronavirus craziness elsewhere. Moreover, the JMI study found, the state’s GOP voter registration just hit a historic high relative to Democrats, a hint these new Floridians probably aren’t bringing their former states’ politics along with them.  

After all, Florida made headlines the way it pushed back against the riots last year—riots that helped to put at least six million more guns in Americans’ hands. That means those who move to the state have something else to lose in voting for leftists besides their money.  

At one time, not very long ago, Florida was at the forefront in protecting the right to keep and bear arms, becoming one of the earliest states — and the largest at the time — to move away from “may issue” concealed carry to a “shall issue” model. Today, more concealed weapon permits have been issued in the Sunshine State than any other state in the Union  –  over two million.  That, and the fact that it’s sort of shaped like a gun, helped earn Florida the moniker the Gunshine State.  

Second Amendment opponents charged that the increase in Florida’s gun ownership led to higher numbers of firearm deaths – but mysteriously (to them), the overall murder rate actually dropped to the second-lowest murder rate recorded since the state began keeping statistics in 1971. (In fact, the JMI study reports, Florida’s crime rate has dropped for an astonishing 50 straight years.)  


After the 2018 Parkland, Fla. school massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by a deranged student who committed a startling 58 school infractions, generated 20 police visits to his home and violated the terms of President Obama’s PROMISE program (and who somehow avoided the judge he should have appeared before for his misbehavior), the state responded with…gun control.   

Specifically, Florida imposed a statewide three-day waiting period for purchasing a gun, even though the Parkland murderer bought his AR-15 a full year before the shooting and to top it off, Broward County already had a five-day waiting period in place.  Florida also responded by raising the age from 18 to 21 to own a rifle or shotgun, thus denying young adults the means to defend themselves.

The state also enacted a so-called “red flag law,” granting the government the power to seize firearms from those deemed to be a danger to themselves or others, despite the fact the Parkland killer was declared “no threat to anyone or himself” by a therapist in a September 28, 2016 police report. 

Today, the Gunshine State boasts a Republican supermajority and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who said he would have vetoed the post-Parkland gun-grabbing legislation.  Yet this year alone, six pro-Second Amendment measures died in the Republican-controlled legislature. Of course, one of the bills that died was a repeal of the post-Parkland gun-grabbing legislation signed into law back in 2018. 

Likewise, while 21 other states have moved beyond licensed concealed carry to Constitutional Carry, Florida now lags behind.   In most cases, open carry is generally prohibited in Florida, except in narrow instances. And the law, in this regard, is more restrictive than even Massachusetts or Connecticut and most other states.

Thus, two other business moves made headlines in the last six weeks without ending up in Florida.  First, legendary firearm maker Smith & Wesson fell back from its historic 165-year-old headquarters in maniacal Massachusetts to a new, more politically defensible position in Tennessee.  

Then on Monday, another icon, Remington Firearms, announced it would end 205 years based in gun-grabbing New York, investing $100 million in a new facility in Georgia, hiring 856 people over the next five years. To add further insult to injury, Taurus, one of the largest multi-national firearm companies globally, recently left their Miami, Florida Headquarters for the greener pastures of Bainbridge, Georgia.
In particular, Remington has just emerged from bankruptcy after leftist lawsuits and corporate cave-ins following the spate of mass shootings sweeping the country, despite those shootings’ painfully obvious link to the Left’s letting the insane out of insane asylums for decades, as well as Democrats’ refusal to discipline the dangerous.   

Florida should hold out a hand of friendship not just to firearm manufacturers but Second Amendment supporters as well. Governor DeSantis should push his GOP supermajority to repeal the state’s gun control regime.  

After all, tempest-tost new Floridians are pouring into the state through freedom’s golden door, hoping to find Lady Liberty there.  

• John Velleco is the executive vice president of Gun Owners of America, a national grassroots lobbying organization with more than two million members and supporters.

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