On Aug. 16 a National Rifle Association lobbyist addressed Florida economists and defended gun manufacturers from a proposed assault weapons ban ballot measure.
Former president of the NRA and current NRA lobbyist, Marion Hammer, argued that gun manufacturers are job creators and we would be driving economic progress out of the state simply by putting this on the ballot for voters to give their opinion. This speech took place just ten days from the weekend in which we saw two devastating mass shootings involving assault weapons in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.
The speech, made to the state economists weighing this decision, revealed that much of our economy does in fact rely on the sale of weaponry. Not only that, but it has been incentivized by the government of Florida itself. If we are to curb the spread of gun violence, we must stop actively supporting the gun industry through the government.
Hammer pointed out that, “Gov. Rick Scott (FL-R) and Enterprise Florida solicited and offered significant financial incentives to gun manufacturers to come to Florida to bring more jobs.”
According to CNBC, in the 2016 election alone, the NRA spent a combined total of $41,600 giving to Republicans in Florida congressional races.
It turns out that NRA donations do more than disincentivize gun-control legislation, but actually promote gun manufacturing subsidies in a number of states, including our own.
Similarly, the state of Alabama has subsidized groups such as Kimber Manufacturing, an estimated $24 million.
Subsidies are an important aspect of state and local governments that help keep many industries active that citizens need.
Gun manufacturers should not be counted among those industries.
If a gun manufacturer cannot remain profitable inside the free market it should not be able to bribe politicians to keep their business in Florida. It allows the number of dangerous weapons on our streets to continue to rise.
State economists that are in charge of assessing whether to bring this ballot measure to the people should not incorporate the profits of arms dealers into their decision making. They should consider the public health of Floridians first and foremost and allow Florida to vote on this all-important issue in 2020.
Jared Sellick is a junior majoring in political science.