One Set of Rules For Elected Officials…Another For You?

Photo: State Representative Spencer Roach

By State Representative Spencer Roach

 

Last week I was the only Republican on the Criminal Justice Subcommittee to vote no on HB 183, which permits elected officials to carry concealed weapons in public meetings over which they preside, such as city council  and county commission meetings.

I applaud the bill for recognizing that “gun-free  zones are killing fields,” as stated by NRA lobbyist  Marion Hammer during her testimony in support of the bill. Several elected  officials also testified in support of the bill, stating that at times they feared  for their personal safety at public meetings attended by angry constituents;  some even reported receiving death threats. Having recently received a  death threat myself, I believe concerns are credible and highlight the risk of  harm that exists in attending public events. But the risk of harm is not  isolated to elected officials. So how can we ask our constituents to assume a  risk that we ourselves are not willing to assume? Are their lives less valuable  or less worthy of protection than those of elected officials?

This bill sets a very dangerous precedent, as it would be the first of its  kind  to explicitly codify in law the existence of a hierarchy of rights based upon  membership in the elite class of government officials. It sets a different standard for exercise of constitutional rights for elected officials, and another for the citizens they serve. HB 183 is not an extension of the Second Amendment, but an usurpation of the use of force common in authoritarian governments like China, Cuba, or North Korea. Indeed, the Second  Amendment itself was passed in reaction to hundreds of years of rule during  which the government had a monopoly on the use of force. The  Second Amendment was never intended to allow the government to protect  itself from citizens; rather, it was designed to enable citizens to protect  themselves from the government.

To be clear, I believe that elected officials have the right to bear arms to  protect themselves from those who seek to do them violence – but so does everyone else. To codify in law that government officials have rights  superior to the average citizen is offensive to the American ideal that all men are equal under the law, and calls to mind the famous closing in George  Orwell’s Animal Farm, a satire of the Soviet Union, in which “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

I will stand against any legislation that elevates representatives to rulers and  reduces citizens to subjects, even if I am standing alone.

-Spencer  Roach (R-North Ft Myers) was elected in 2018 to represent Florida’s 79th  District, which includes eastern & northern unincorporated Lee County.

Disclaimer: The newspaper does not necessarily agree with the opinions,  ideas, beliefs or viewpoints expressed in the letters and op-ed pieces the  magazine publishes. The newspaper does not endorse the pieces, nor do  they reflect the newspaper’s viewpoints or official policies. The newspaper publishes the pieces as a public service to further public  commentary and debate.

 

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