TTAG contributor Luis Valdes, in his role as Florida Director for Gun Owners of America, called out a so-called pro-gun Republican for blocking five of six major pro-gun bills in his leadership position in the Florida House of Representatives. That led to Florida Carry spokesman Lee Williams writing an attack piece that United Sportsmen of Florida’s Executive Director Marion Hammer emailed to USF’s members as well as at least some of NRA’s Sunshine State membership.
Hammer didn’t like that one of her political friends, Rep. Cord Byrd, took some legitimate criticism for blocking good gun bills, especially when pro-gun legislators had a supermajority in the Florida legislature.
…To be clear, Rep. Cord Byrd deserves our praise, as well as the thanks of every gun owner in the Gunshine State.
Byrd has proven he can always be counted on to support our God-given and constitutional right of self-defense. He is a strong supporter of both the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I Section 8 of the Florida Constitution, and he has earned an A+ rating from the NRA.
When it comes to guns, Byrd has proven time and time again he is one of us and not a RINO, and I’m reasonably certain that when he cuts himself shaving, he bleeds Hoppe’s #9.
Unfortunately, none of that mattered to Luis Valdes, the Florida Director of the Gun Owners of America.
For reasons known only to Valdes, he singled Byrd out for blame Wednesday – posting an extremely offensive and naïve statement on social media…
Leaving out the personal attacks on Mr. Valdes, Williams seems to think this all hinges on the fact that one or more of these blocked bills failed to have a companion bill in the Florida Senate.
Personally, I’ve never met Valdes, although we’ve spoken on the phone a few times. It is important that he and other advocates who come before the legislature understand the legislative process, and Valdes’ ignorant post proves he does not understand the process. Even worse, he did a disservice to gun owners by attacking a trusted lawmaker — a true friend of ours — who champions the Second Amendment.
In my opinion, Valdes must think that by attacking legislators who have a proven track record of advocating for gun owners, he somehow gains street cred. In fact, all this does is prove he does not deserve the trust of gun owners or the ability to speak on their behalf.
Valdes needs to understand that limited committee time cannot be spent on bills that have no chance of passing. That includes bills that do not have a companion in the other chamber. Legislators must find a sponsor in the other chamber. When they don’t or can’t, the blame lies with them for failing to do their job, not with a committee chairman who has a duty to ensure that bills of other members who have done their homework are heard.
Read Williams full post here. What he doesn’t say, however, is that plenty of bills make it through committee without companion bills.
Rep. Byrd said there was no “companion” in the Senate for these bills & it would be a waste of time.
So, he killed #ConstitutionalCarry
— Gun Owners of America (@GunOwners) September 4, 2021
In a legislative alert from the Florida chapter of Gun Owners of America explained just that earlier this year:
But to be frank with you. We’re a bit upset with Rep. Byrd. Why? Because back on March 17, Rep. Byrd said that, as the chair of the House’s Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee, he will not bring HB 123 (Constitutional Carry) up for a vote in his committee since it does not have a Senate companion bill.
Yet, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ pet project, the Anti-Riot bill (HB 1) had no Senate companion bill, and yet Rep. Byrd brought it up for a vote in his committee. In fact, Byrd’s committee was the first one that had to pass HB 1. And guess what happened? HB 1 passed Rep. Byrd’s committee and all the other ones in the House and Senate.
Hammer shared her thoughts with Williams. Again, from Williams’ piece:
“When groups and group spokespersons, who don’t understand the legislative process, attack legislative leadership and committee chairmen who support the Second Amendment, they shoot themselves in the foot and do an enormous disservice to law-abiding gun owners,” said Marion Hammer, past president of National Rifle Association, current NRA board member and executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida.
For one of Wayne LaPierre’s well-paid pals, who spends precious few days in the Florida legislature, those are some pretty ugly assertions. So why all the harsh words from Williams? And why did Hammer forward Williams’ piece on to tens of thousands of USF and NRA members?
We suspect GOA will have some insights to share soon.
[ED: A full response from Gun Owners of America is posted here.]