I feel sorry for the News Service of Florida reporter who wrote the story about the wacky comments Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri made about open carry.
Gualtieri alleged that she took his quotes out of context.
Once published, the full weight of the Florida Sheriff’s Association and Gualtieri’s office descended down upon her.
That’s a daunting prospect for a reporter and their editors. I never really trust the brokered stories that come out of those type of situations.
I have some advice for the good sheriff regarding his “I-was-taken-out-of-context” claims: boo-hoo!
It’s time to add some context of our own.
FACT: Sheriff Gualtieri is decidedly anti-gun — a true Second Amendment Butter, (i.e. “I support the Second Amendment, but…”). When I interviewed him earlier this year, he bristled somewhat when I asked if he was a Second Amendment supporter. “I really don’t like that statement,” he said at the time. “The Constitution is the Constitution, and I support every amendment, but every amendment is not without limit.”
FACT: The sheriff believes he alone is qualified to tell gun owners how they can bear arms. He claims he supports concealed carry, but opposes open carry.
FACT: Sheriff Gualtieri has a history of outlandish what-if horror stories regard pending pro-gun legislation. He once called the Firearms Mandatory Evacuation bill — which is now law — “crazy” and “absurd,” saying it would allow people to carry concealed firearms into a riot, rather than when they’re fleeing their homes. I’m still waiting for the riots.
FACT: He once threatened to resurrect a little-used county ordinance that requires background checks at local gun shows for all private sales. The county ordinance gathered dust since it was enacted in 1998. Violators faced misdemeanor charges. After garnering a few headlines, the plan fizzled. Gun shows were held without any problems. No arrests were ever made.
FACT: Sheriff Gualtieri has been waging a one-man war against open carry legislation with spurious information, with the apparent support and approval of the Florida Sheriff’s Association. If Florida’s pro-gun sheriffs don’t speak out, they risk becoming associated with Gualtieri’s anti-gun remarks.
FACT: Sheriff Gualtieri claimed Florida’s NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer refused to meet with sheriffs or FSA lobbyists to discuss the Open Carry bill this year. That is false. “There has been no attempt by the Sheriffs Association to work with us on the bill,” Hammer said in an email to every Florida Sheriff sent this week.
FACT: In 2013, Gualtieri, along with every single Florida sheriff, signed a pledge to support and defend the Second Amendment.
FACT: But that same year, Gualtieri told the Tampa Bay Times he supported background checks for ammunition purchases saying it “makes all the sense in the world to me.”
FACT: Sheriff Gualtieri said open carry legislation “raises questions” about a police officer’s ability to ask an open-carrier to produce their concealed-carry license.But under existing law, 790.06(1), license holders are required to have the license with them “at all times in which the licensee is in actual possession of a concealed weapon or firearm and must display both the license and proper identification upon demand by a law enforcement officer.” That same restriction applies to open carry. It’s in the bill.
FACT: Gualtieri claimed that if open carry legislation passes, a Day Care or a McDonald’s won’t be able to bar people from open carry or “having their guns on tables” while eating. There is nothing in the bill that in any way impacts the private property rights of others. Any businesses or person may prohibit the open carry of firearms on their private property.
FACT: As long as Gualtieri remains the Florida Sheriff’s Association’s anti-gun poster boy, if he grouses about context or looks for sympathy, he’ll find the latter in the dictionary between sh*t and syphilis.