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Rep. Gaetz: Second Amendment not negotiable

Congressman Matt Gaetz 3:54 p.m. CT Jan. 17, 2017

Liberal activist John Cork asks in a recent column, “Who is Matt Gaetz Protecting?” The answer: Gun owners and our Constitution. Some on the left believe the Second Amendment is negotiable, flexible – even forgettable. I don’t – and Andy Marlette’s cartoons provide the evidence.

Our founders understood that America’s strength comes from empowering citizens, not government. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man" (quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria).

Jefferson’s words ring true today – especially given increasing violence in society. When Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Michael Bloomberg called for a repeal of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, I proudly stood up to them. We didn’t weaken Stand Your Ground, we made it even stronger to protect those under attack.

As a state legislator, I championed open gun carry in Florida. Forty-Five states allow open carry in some form. States that allow open carry have 23% less violent crime, fewer murders and fewer aggravated assaults. The numbers don’t lie – which is likely why Mr. Cork didn’t cite any.

Congress can do more to restore the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Today, when a Florida conceal carry permit holder travels to Alabama, Georgia or any other state, they cannot carry absent duplicative permitting. I’ve joined Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) introducing national conceal carry reciprocity legislation. In our state, conceal carry permit holders are remarkably law-abiding citizens. In fact, they are eight times less likely to commit crimes than members of law enforcement. We hope to pass this bill soon.

Mr. Cork writes, “There are numerous effective strategies that reduce the odds of the mentally ill obtaining firearms. The NRA and Rep. Gaetz oppose them all.” That is a lie. And I can prove it.

No person should be able to walk out of a mental institution and return to an arsenal. In 2013, I was Criminal Justice Chairman in the Florida House of Representatives. We worked with Democrats, Republicans, the NRA and others to pass HB 1355. According to nonpartisan analysis, this law prohibits the sale or delivery of firearms to someone “adjudicated mentally defective” or who has been “committed to a mental institution.” That’s just commonsense. Perhaps Mr. Cork should take better aim of the facts before publishing fake news.

For eight years President Obama has blamed law-abiding gun owners for the tragic events caused by a disturbed few. In Northwest Florida, we proudly “cling to our guns and bibles.” We always will. And if anyone ever wonders who I am protecting by supporting the Second Amendment, it just may be you or your family. Because, in America, you always have the right to protect yourself.

Congressman Matt Gaetz represents the First District of Florida. He serves on the Armed Services, Budget and Judiciary Committees and lives in Fort Walton Beach.

Source: http://www.pnj.com/story/opinion/2017/01/17/rep-gaetz-second-amendment-negotiable/96686296/

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