UPDATE: I received a call and an email Saturday morning from Lauren Schenone, Director of Public Affairs for Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.
The attorney general, she said, is personally reviewing the Lynch case.
“I wanted to follow up our on conversation last night and give you additional information that I have found regarding the case we discussed,” Schenone said. “The Attorney General was notified of this last night and is personally reviewing this case. Our office handles thousands of cases and our office was tasked with representing state agencies.”
PREVIOUS: Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has just proven that — like her predecessor Pam Bondi — she is no friend of the state’s gun owners.
Moody’s position became crystal clear in her response to a show-cause order in the case Leonardo Lynch vs. Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Lynch is an active-duty sailor stationed in Florida who attempted to buy a handgun last year.
FDLE informed the gun dealer that Lynch was prohibited from purchasing the weapon and Lynch appealed the denial.
New York state had an old NICS entry that showed Lynch, or someone with the same name, had been mentally committed, according to Sean Caranna, founder and executive director of Florida Carry, Inc.
New York refused to release any documents related to the NICS entry, which Caranna explained is not a disqualifier but more of a flag for further review. But FDLE took no action and said it does not have to even render a final decision in the case — ever — so no one gets to go to court for judicial review of the denial.
“All their decisions are never final,” Caranna told me. “If that’s the extent of our right to purchase firearms in the State of Florida, then we have a Constitutional crisis. Attorney General Moody needs to get her office under control.”
Neither Moody nor any member of her staff responded to calls and emails seeking comment for this story.
The arguments spelled out in Moody’s response are chilling, both for gun owners and anyone else who values personal liberties and freedoms.
Here’s a list of exactly what Moody is claiming in her response. The list was compiled by Florida Carry, Inc.
1. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) should not be required to produce any evidence or proof that an individual is a prohibited person prior to the denial of a constitutional right.
2. The Court should accept FDLE’s statement that a person is prohibited from purchasing firearms without any evidence to support FDLE’s claim.
3. FDLE can allege that a person is prohibited from purchasing firearms and is not required to offer any evidence that the purchaser is prohibited.
4. FDLE has full discretion as to whether a purchase denial is final, and the courts have no authority to require FDLE to issue a final decision almost a year later.
5. If a purchaser does have a right to the entry of a final decision by FDLE through mandamus the 1st DCA should exercise discretion and refuse to compel a final decision in this case because NY law prevents FDLE from obtaining proof of FDLE’s claims.
6. Compelling FDLE to render a final decision and granting appellate review would force FDLE to give purchasers an approval when FDLE is unable to prove they are a prohibited person.
7. A purchaser prohibited by FDLE cannot require FDLE to render a final decision that would be subject to judicial review.
8. A purchaser FDLE claims is prohibited has no right to appellate judicial review in a Florida court of FDLE’s decision.
9. A purchaser has an obligation to prove they are not a prohibited person even though FDLE has offered no evidence or documentation that the individual is prohibited.
10. A mental health record (that no evidence has been produced even exist) is a criminal history record. Despite a prior AG opinion regarding Florida mental health law that mental health issues should not be treated as criminal cases.
11. FDLE’s statutory authority to create rules for review of criminal history records applies to records that are not criminal history records as defined by Florida law.
12. The specific authority under the Brady Act to bring an action against a denying agency does not apply to a purchaser seeking appellate review of an FDLE denial.
13. FDLE is not subject to the Florida Administrative Procedures Act (APA) when it denies a person the fundamental right to purchase a firearm.
14. A person seeking to purchase a firearm is similar to a criminal seeking to seal or expunge their record.
15. Because the Legislature gave an express right to Concealed Weapon and Firearm License (CWFL) applicants to seek review under the APA but did not give that express right to denied purchasers, the purchaser has no rights under the APA.
I would like to give our new attorney general the benefit of the doubt, but allowing a response like this to be filed with the court — over her name — is damning.
It’s indicative of either very poor staff work or a complete lack of respect for the Second Amendment, which Attorney General Moody took an oath to support and defend.
I hope this case is resolved quickly.
Mr. Lynch took an oath too, when he joined the Navy.
The State of Florida should respect, if not honor, his oath by letting this sailor buy a pistol.
It’s the least we can do.