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.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.