Florida bill would require anger management courses for bullet buyers
By Joshua Rhett Miller
Published March 06, 2013
A Florida legislator wants anyone trying to buy ammunition to complete an anger management program first, in what critics say is the latest example of local lawmakers reaching for constitutionally-dubious solutions to the problem of gun violence.
The bill filed Saturday by state Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, would require a three-day waiting period for the sale of any firearm and the sale of ammunition to anyone who has not completed anger management courses. The proposal would require ammo buyers to take the anger management courses every 10 years.
“This is not about guns," Gibson said. "This is about ammunition and not only for the safety of the general community, but also for the safety of law enforcement.”
Gibson said she’s concerned with citizens stockpiling ammunition, potentially creating dangerous situations should those individuals ever come in contact with law enforcement agencies or criminals.
“It’s about getting people to think, really, about how much ammunition they need,” Gibson said. “It’s a step, I think, in a safer direction. It’s about getting people to think before they buy.”
Gibson insisted the bill is not “accusatory” toward gun and ammunition owners, but rather an effort to improve the safety of her community. She recalled the death of a Jacksonville man, Jordan Davis, 17, who was fatally shot during a confrontation with another man in November. Michael David Dunn, 46, of Satellite Beach, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the case.
Gibson first announced her intentions to introduce such legislation last month during a rally for Davis, saying “people are just not as patient as they used to be,” according to the Florida Times-Union.
“We see the rage on the road all the time,” she continued Wednesday. “People are just more impatient, I don’t know what it is.”
Gibson’s bill does not offer a threshold for the amount of ammunition needed to necessitate the need for anger management courses.
“It is unlawful to: A) Sell ammunition to another person who does not present certification that he or she has successfully completed an anger-management program consisting of at least 2 hours of online or face-to-face instruction in anger-management techniques,” the bill reads. “The certification must be renewed every 10 years. B) Purchase or otherwise obtain ammunition by fraud, false pretense, or false representation.”
Those in violation of the bill, if passed, would face a second-degree misdemeanor charge. Anyone found in violation a second time within a year of a prior conviction would face a first-degree misdemeanor charge.
Critics of the bill, however, derided the legislation as “absolutely ridiculous” and suggested that Gibson take a course on the U.S. Constitution.
“When I first saw it, I thought it had to be a joke,” said Sean Caranna, executive director of Florida Carry, a nonprofit group championing the right to bear arms. “They’re trying to say that anyone who owns a gun or shoots a gun or has ammunition for it needs counseling and obviously has some anger problems.”
Caranna said he was disappointed that Gibson wasted her time on the bill instead of focusing on other issues like jobs or the state’s rate of foreclosures, which is the highest in the nation.
“We’ve got a lot of issues that should be the focus of these bill slots with limited filing, but instead we put in something as ridiculous as this,” he said. “I don’t see a planet where this passes. This is an attempt to grab attention – it has to be. And that’s really disappointing.”
Jon Gutmacher, an Orlando attorney and author of “Florida Firearms: Law, Use & Ownership,” told FoxNews.com that the bill would almost certainly be found to be unconstitutional based on prior restraint.
“It has no reasonable relationship to anything,” he said. “There has to be a reasonable basis to believe that a person had a substantial anger problem that could cause public harm.”
Gutmacher said he found the bill to be an “insult” to any gun owner in the Sunshine State.
“It’s absurd on its face,” he continued. “And anyone who proposes that legislation is in my mind unfit for the legislature because it shows a basic problem with their thinking process, aside from their lack of understanding of what the Constitution is all about. That’s the kind of bill that doesn’t even get past committee.