Whether you’re begrudgingly supportive of Charlie Crist, optimistically still backing Nan Rich, quixotically hoping for Bill Nelson to jump in, or one of those sociopaths that voted for Gov. Scott, one thing we can all agree on: Florida faces many problems. Real problems that affect people’s lives in real ways. Some of which can be redressed by legislation that acknowledges a problem and thoughtfully implements reform aimed at alleviating it.
Rep. Matt “Baby” Gaetz’s HB 255 is not like that.
After having a long look at our state’s gun violence problem and hearing many hours of testimony as Chair of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s killing and the subsequent debate over Stand Your Ground which overtook the Capitol last summer, after reading (or not reading as the case may be) the many stories about hundreds of accidental and intentional shootings in Florida since last Session alone — having absorbed all this and more, Rep. Gaetz (R-Shalimar) has finally decided where he can best apply his considerable influence in the legislature to do something about our state’s most deadly idiosyncrasy.
Closing the gun show loophole for good? Keeping guns off college campuses? Requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance? All good ideas, but this is the reactionary Florida House.
Instead, Matt “Not One Damn Comma” Gaetz’s bill would prevent property and auto insurers from charging higher rates on the basis of gun ownership or possession. Carrying a gun around, especially in your car, is of course manifestly risky and exactly the sort of thing insurance companies should be able to take into account, but Rep. Gaetz seems intent on subsidizing those who choose to do so at the expense of fellow ratepayers who will have to pick up the slack.
Leaving aside the fact that this bill flies in the face of his party’s rhetoric about deregulation and personal responsibility, Rep. Gaetz has proposed a phony solution to a phony problem here instead of making himself useful. It serves no pressing public need and reinforces the perception of the House as a superficial, essentially political chamber compared to the more deliberative Senate.
This bill cements Gaetz’s reputation, despite his evident intellect and skill in debate, as a show horse who’s more interested in pleasing Marion Hammer — I wouldn’t be surprised if she wrote this bill or requested it be written — and the extremist legislative priorities of the United Sportsmen of Florida and NRA than working on serious issues. Of course, we already knew that about its Senate sponsor Tom Lee (R-Brandon).
HB 255 has passed Finance & Tax and will now come before Gaetz’s fiefdom in Criminal Justice before meeting Regulatory Affairs. SB 424, Sen. Lee’s contribution to this proud moment in Florida legislative history, has sped through committee and will next come to its last stop before the full Senate, Appropriations. We’ll keep you posted as to who votes for this when it reaches its respective chambers’ floors.