Column: Florida Sheriffs Association’s pick for Legislator of the Year is a ‘finger in the eye’ of gun owners

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The Florida Sheriffs Association has chosen state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla as its “2016 Legislator of the Year.”

Bestowing this honor to the anti-gun Miami Republican is an affront to every gun owner in the state.

Diaz de la Portilla became infamous for his extremist views when he single-handedly killed both open-carry and campus-carry legislation, refusing to hold hearings for the two popular bills in his Senate Judiciary Committee.

By giving him one of its top annual honors, the Florida Sheriffs Association clearly shows that it does not support the Second Amendment.

Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, (R-Miami)

Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, (R-Miami)

“If there was ever any doubt that the Florida Sheriff’s Association is anti-gun, there is no doubt now,” said Marion Hammer, executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida and past-president of the National Rifle Association. “They have made it clear that Sen. Diaz de la Portilla was given their top award because he killed guns bills they opposed but that NRA supported. It doesn’t get much clearer than that.”

According to a statement sent Monday morning, the FSA chose Diaz de la Portilla because of his “commitment to the safety of our citizens,” as well as his “role in ensuring a common sense approach to conceal carry legislation.”

But Hammer, and many others, say they believe Diaz de la Portilla killed the two pro-gun bills not for any commitment to public safety, but to insure his reelection.

“In reality, I think he killed the bills because his Senate district changed during reapportionment, and he was afraid he would have a difficult time getting reelected in the new district if he upheld his constitutional duty to protect Second Amendment rights,” she said. “In my personal opinion, Sen. Diaz de la Portilla stuck his finger in the eye of gun owners for self-interest, not the interest of those he was elected to represent.”

The senator did not respond to calls seeking comment for this column, and no one within FSA is talking about how he was chosen, or whether the 67 FSA members even voted on the award.

Nanette Schimpf, the FSA’s contract public relations consultant, said she’s been on vacation and was not familiar with the award process.

Schimpf’s employee Adam Montgomery, who sent the email Monday announcing the award, did not return calls seeking comment for this column.

Neither Steve Casey, FSA’s executive director, nor deputy executive director Matt Dunagan returned calls seeking comment.

One sheriff says he wasn’t involved.

Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight, through his spokeswoman, said he was “not involved in the formal voting process toward the selection of Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla.”

Calls to other Florida sheriffs are still pending.

If, as it appears, the FSA is now openly anti-gun, or if it has been hijacked by an anti-gun group, this will be remembered by voters. It’s time for its pro-gun sheriffs to act. Otherwise, the 61-year-old association — which lists as its core values “integrity, fairness, commitment and accountability”— will continue its decline into irrelevancy.

— If we don’t run into each other at the range, you can reach me at (941) 284-8553, by email at lee.williams@heraldtribune.com or by regular mail, 1741 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You also can follow me on social media at facebook.com/TheGunWriter or Twitter.com/ht_gunwriter or watch us on our new YouTube Channel.

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About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

8 Comments

  1. Pingback: Column: Florida Sheriffs Association’s pick for Legislator of the Year is a ‘finger in the eye’ of gun owners - 2nd Amendment Right

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  4. david alfonso on

    Diaz de la Portilla is a GD hero for what he did. Open carry, much less campus carry, don’t have a fking thing to do with the 2nd Amendment. GD gun-loving morons, such as Williams, have perverted the 2nd to the point where it’s absurd. Ain’t no GD ‘well regulated militias’ being denied 2nd rights.
    It ain’t the GD ‘responsible’ gun lover I’m afraid of; it’s the idiots and there are a hell of a lot more of them than the responsible kind. Having a ‘permit’ is worthless because it takes jack shit for brains to obtain one. I don’t a rat’s ass how many credentials Williams has; his comments on the Sheriff’s Association are unwarranted NRA ass kissing. FU

    • Richard Nascak on

      “Open carry, much less campus carry, don’t have a fking thing to do with the 2nd Amendment.”

      The right to keep (own) and bear (carry) arms is a fundamental, individual right per SCOTUS. Here in Florida, we have no right to bear arms. We have a licensed privilege to carry concealed, which may be revoked without due process. Indeed, SCOTUS also said concealed carry could be entirely banned. Therefore SCOTUS must reserve the fundamental right to keep and bear arms for some other method of carry – open carry. In fact, the Heller decision cited a Georgia Supreme Court case, Nunn v. State, which said exactly that. Open carry is the right, concealed carry a privilege. As to campus carry, we’re speaking of licensed adults who carry daily off-campus, not kids. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to protect themselves on-campus just as they do off-campus, given there are 400 violent crimes per year on Florida campuses? Both open and campus carry are at the core of the right.

      “GD gun-loving morons, such as Williams, have perverted the 2nd to the point where it’s absurd. Ain’t no GD ‘well regulated militias’ being denied 2nd rights.”

      The Constitution delegates SCOTUS legal authority to be the final arbiter of constitutionality. They have decided in Heller that the right is an individual right independent of service in any militia. It’s obvious you disagree, but don’t blame Lee. He doesn’t wear a black robe.

      “It ain’t the GD ‘responsible’ gun lover I’m afraid of; it’s the idiots and there are a hell of a lot more of them than the responsible kind. Having a ‘permit’ is worthless because it takes jack shit for brains to obtain one.”

      Licensees are 1/6 as likely to commit a serious crime than a Florida law enforcement officer (DACS/FDLE databases). Between 1987 and 2012, DACS issued over 2 million licenses. In that time, only 6/1000 of 1% have had their licenses revoked for a crime involving a firearm, and only 3/10 of 1% were revoked for any reason (DACS database). Not bad stats for something that you claim takes “jack shit” to obtain.

      “I don’t a rat’s ass how many credentials Williams has; his comments on the Sheriff’s Association are unwarranted NRA ass kissing. FU”

      Says the guy with no credentials.

      You sir, and I use the term loosely, exemplify the angry, arrogant, opinionated, and self-aggrandizing stereotype so frequently applied to gun owners, but almost always describes a gun-hater.

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