Matt Dixon, (@Mdixon55)
State Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, has come to the defense of a Florida National Guard attorney who faced criticism after giving negative testimony during a hearing for a gun bill supported by the National Rifle Association.
The bill would allow people without concealed carry permits to continue carrying their weapons during a mandatory evacuation. Terrence Gorman, general counsel for the Department of Military Affairs, said during his March 19 testimony that it’s not smart policy to allow people with little training to carry guns during high stress situation.
NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer said during those potentially dangerous situations is exactly when people should be allowed to carry guns. After Gorman’s testimony she lobbied the governor’s office to get the National Guard to issue a letter stressing its support for the bill. Her effort included blasting Gorman. (background)
As a result, Dean, who is opposed to the bill, wrote a letter in Gorman’s defense to Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw, the Florida National Guard’s top official.
“Captain Gorman presented himself professionally, competently, and very knowledgeably before the committee,” Dean wrote in the March 21 letter.
Dean requested that the letter be placed in Gorman’s personnel file.
“As a Floridian, I commend him and respect his intelligence and accountability as presented by his standing in the Florida National Guard,” wrote Dean, who copied Senate President Don Gaetz on the record.
After being “temporarily postponed” during two consecutive hearings, the Senate Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security will give the bill its third hearing Tuesday.
After the bills March 25 meeting, chairman, state Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, said the committee had no more scheduled meetings, but that could change if they had additional bills to hear. The concealed carry bill is the only piece of legislation on the agenda.
A House version of the bill, SB 209, has passed its three committee stops and is headed to the House floor. During its last committee stop, the House bill was expanded to suspend concealed carry laws during states of emergency declared by local officials.