After considering the recent and hastily passed resolution of the Alachua County Board of Commissioners regarding their desire to appeal to Tallahassee for more gun control regulation, I felt it important to establish that I, if elected as your next County Commissioner, will respect and honor all of your natural rights, including your right to self-defense and had I been on the Board of County Commissioners, Resolution 2018-12 would not have passed unanimously.

I have heard proponents of this resolution espouse that “people don’t need a semi-automatic rifle for hunting.” However, hunting is not the issue. It was as clear at the founding of our country, as it is today, that gross abuses of human rights and dignity could be perpetrated in the name of trying to establish “a more perfect union” and for this reason, the assembled congress established the Bill of Rights, limiting the government from misconstruing its powers. The amendments to the Constitution do not grant rights, but instead prevent government from treading on our natural rights. The framers put in place a system of checks and balances to prevent such misuses of power and an armed citizenry capable of defending itself from anyone who would violate its rights, including its own government, was part of that design.

It is also certainly clear that the vast majority of gun ownership is responsible and in no way endangers our citizens. To claim otherwise is worthy of ridicule as homicide rates in the United States continue to fall even though gun ownership is at its highest levels. The data suggests there is no correlation.

In the resolution, the Alachua County Board of Commissioners made several proposals that may sound well intentioned but in reality will lead to more harm done against law-abiding residents. I’m going to address a few here.

The commissioners are asking to be able to establish their own set of gun control regulations

Is this a good use of our Sheriff’s limited resources to police? How are any of us safer by making people drive half an hour north or south on I75 to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights?  What about travelers through our county?  Are we willing to suffer higher taxes due to costs of enforcement and incarcerations because they didn’t know about our county ordinances?  The only possible reason for wanting to empower the county to limit fundamental rights is political theater: to pretend to do something that pleases some partisans while in effect doing nothing but inconveniencing your opponents. This is not serious governing, and we should be thankful the county will not have to pay the inevitable legal fees defending whatever misguided ordinance they would pass.

The commissioners are asking to ban specific weapons, magazines and accessories

Semi-automatic rifles and other demonized weaponry have saved more lives in cases of self-defense than in the very rare cases of homicide, and usually in cases where multiple armed assailants threaten the lives of single armed gun owner. According to FBI crime statistics, there were 374 homicides in 2017 where a rifle of any kind was used but a survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Americans used guns to frighten away intruders who are breaking into their homes about 498,000 times per year. Do we really want to prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves?

The commissioners are asking to increase waiting periods for gun ownership and create a registration database

Waiting periods and mandatory public gun registration seem like simple choices when your only focus is preventing the wrong people from having firearms, but they are extremely problematic in also preventing people who have a real security need to possess a firearm. If in your mind you are denying the impulsive murderer from being armed, why not? But in reality, mass shootings are usually meticulously planned and would not be prevented by a cooling off period. However, for the single mom who has escaped an abusive partner and needs something to protect herself and her children, a waiting period could be deadly. Having that person who is in hiding have a public record that could be published by irresponsible media or found by the person determined to do her harm is not helpful. Common sense should be to look at all the possible implications of a proposed action, not simply pretend it only has the effect you want.

What happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was horrific, as is all innocent loss of life, but governing by polls, as is the case with our current commissioners, is not the method of principled leadership.  What has been most glaring in the recent cases is not that background checks are lacking, but in how ineffective the current system is in detecting exactly the people the checks were designed to catch. If we know our current system is failing to be implemented, why should we have any faith that adding additional rules to the system will suddenly result in competency? If your foundation is sinking, you do not start building new floors. Let us refocus law enforcement resources into effectively enforcing the rules we have now. I would suggest that if we had used some of the $7 billion dollars that have already been spent this year on the war on drugs towards improving the background check system to function as designed, we would have a safer and freer citizenry.

Please help me with a generous donation or time as a volunteer bring a Voice of Reason to the Alachua County Board of Commissioners.