Fabiola Santiago

From Pam Bondi to Ashley Moody, it’s only pro-NRA attorneys general for Florida | Opinion

AR-15: The gun behind so many mass shootings

The AR-15 assault rifle is commonly used in mass shootings in the United States. Here's a closer look at likely reasons why. CREDIT: The New York Times
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The AR-15 assault rifle is commonly used in mass shootings in the United States. Here's a closer look at likely reasons why. CREDIT: The New York Times

There’s nothing your Florida attorneys general won’t do to make sure you preserve your right to cradle that AR-15 in your arms like a grown-up baby with a rattle.

These women work hard for you.

Goo goo gaga, big boy in Swampland!

The safety of 21.3 million Floridians means nothing compared to your Second Amendment rights to that macho empowerment. Moms demanding action, those gun safety advocates from 50 states descending on the nation’s capital this week for leadership training?

Gives you the wiggles.

You’ve got the winning ticket of the old — and new GOP leadership in Florida — at the National Rifle Association’s beck and call.

You can call the new chief law enforcement officer in the state Pam Bondi II. Only the hair color is different.

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Florida Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, center, laughs when he is acknowledged in the Florida House on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, with other incoming members of the Florida Cabinet. From left, Agricultural Commissioner-elect Nikki Fried and Attorney General-elect Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and outgoing Attorney General Pam Bondi. Scott Keeler Tampa Bay Times

Since Attorney General Ashley Moody swore on a Bible to protect us and settled into her Cabinet post, she’s been busy pushing back against any possibly successful effort to rein in the carnage in Florida.

Already forgotten victims killed with legally purchased assault weapons:

The 49 men and women killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

The 17 kids, teachers and administrators dead, another 17 injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The name-your-number every day in Anywhere, Florida.

None of these victims mattered when Moody decided this week it was too risky to let a citizens’ effort to put a constitutional assault weapons ban on the ballot in 2020 continue moving forward.

She has filed a petition before the Florida Supreme Court — same one Gov. Ron DeSantis immediately stacked with conservatives in appointments after taking office — to block the measure backed by the group Ban Assault Weapons NOW and other gun safety advocates.

Moody argues that the ballot language is “clearly and conclusively defective,” words that motivated a breathless “Florida Alert!” from the NRA.

The language, she argues, would “ban the possession of virtually every semiautomatic long gun.”

And this: “To be included on the ballot, the sprawling practical effect of the amendment must be revealed in the ballot language. Because that effect is not revealed, the ballot language is deficient.”

The ballot language defines assault weapons as “any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun capable of holding more than ten (10) rounds of ammunition at once, either in a fixed or detachable magazine, or any other ammunition-feeding device.”

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Seems pretty clear that both the initiative and its language have legal precedent in the federal ban that existed from 1994 to 2004 and saved countless lives. But I’m just a mom unwilling to sit around and wait for the next nut job who walks into a gun shop with mass murder on his mind.

This is far from the only legal maneuver occupying the attorney general’s mind.

She’s also appealing a circuit judge’s ruling striking down a state law threatening fines and removal from office for local officials and governments that pass any type of gun regulation.

Moody filed notice Tuesday that she will appeal the ruling in Weston vs. DeSantis by Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson that the 2011 law threatening the penalties was unconstitutional.

The lawsuit was brought by Weston and 19 other cities in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting. They’d had enough with the state’s increasingly compromised positions on behalf of the NRA, measures that tied their hands in their jurisdictions.

Those penalties, imposed by the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature and signed into law by NRA A-rated former Gov. Rick Scott, are “some of the most extreme anywhere in the nation,” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only Democrat elected to statewide office last November, said in a statement.

Fried’s office handles concealed weapons permits in the state, something her Republican predecessor, Adam Putnam, badly bungled, the neglect and mismanagement letting convicted felons have access to carrying all the weaponry their hearts desired.

“We should restore local democracy and allow communities to consider common-sense local measures that reflect their values,” Fried said.

But no challenge is too small for the keepers of the “Gunshine State.” Their idea of family values and security is arming teachers. In other words, keeping the gun industry in business.

Attorney General Pam Bondi under Scott and now Ashley Moody under DeSantis — endorsed by the NRA and elected by a slim margin of Florida voters — are here to keep the boys armed. The bodies of our loved ones are only, as they say in the math of war, collateral damage.

The Florida Republican Party didn’t invest almost $1 million in her campaign for nothing.

Award-winning columnist Fabiola Santiago has been writing about all things Miami since 1980, when the Mariel boatlift became her first front-page story. A Cuban refugee child of the Freedom Flights, she’s also the author of essays, short fiction, and the novel “Reclaiming Paris.”
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