This column is a vehicle for a number of items in a bits-and-pieces, strictly opinion, sometimes irreverent format. Look for “Just Sayin'” to run once a week in this spot.

Hollow Victory for the Anti-Gunners

The Eleventh Circuit on Thursday struck down part of a Florida law curbing doctors from asking patients about firearm ownership, ruling that the “docs vs. glocks” law violates the First Amendment by impermissibly restricting physician speech.

Struck down part of it, but not the most important part.

Basically, the ruling is all about the doctor, not the patient.

It says your doctor now has a right to ask you about your guns — but it also says you have a right to answer, not answer, tell him what he can do with his stethoscope, even lie like a Persian rug.

“The Court … left intact the provision making it clear that patients have an absolute right to refuse to answer doctors’ questions about gun ownership,” said former NRA president and legendary Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer.

That’s good enough for me.

It’s where the First Amendment rubber meets the Second Amendment road.

So, if my doctor asks if I have guns in the house, I’m not even going to say, “Mind your own business.” He’ll take that as a yes. I’m going to look him straight in the eye, bat my eyes and say, “Why, no, doctor, what makes you ask?”

Don’t forget Chapter 790, Section 335 of the Florida Statutes — Prohibition of registration of firearms; electronic records, passed in 2011. Look it up. Criminals excepted, it protects gun owners’ privacy in no uncertain terms:

“(d) … No state governmental agency or local government, special district, or other political subdivision or official, agent, or employee of such state or other governmental entity or any other person, private or public, shall accumulate, compile, computerize, or otherwise collect or convert such written records into any form of list, registry, or database for any purpose.”

As hard as they judge-shopped for an activist court to hear this appeal — and they did find one in the 11th Circuit — the anti-gun lobby still couldn’t shatter Florida gun owners’ rights under 790.335.

The anti-gunners can crow about Thursday’s decision all they want — the fact is, it’s a pretty hollow victory. 

Like I said, your doctor can ask, but he can’t control how you reply. And frankly, with 790.335 afoot, he’d better be pretty careful how, or even if, he records your answer.


Negron’s Then and Now on Lake/Dike Control

Senate President Joe Negron a flip-flopper? Say it ain’t so, Joe.

Joe Negron

In his dismissal of Sen. David Simmons’ proposal to expedite rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike, Negron said the feds are responsible for Lake Okeechobee and the dike.

“They built it, they own it,” he said in an email to TCPalm Thursday. “And they control it. I want state funds to be spent on reservoir construction.”

This is a statement that allows Negron to label taking more Everglades Agricultural Area farm land out of production as the solution to every single water issue in South Florida — even if there are other answers.

Lest we forget, and here comes the flip-flop part: Back when he was running for reelection, Treasure Coast Newspapers asked him,  “Do you believe the state should take over maintenance and operation of Lake Okeechobee from the Army Corps of Engineers?” His answer, like his opponent’s, was “Yes.”

Negron wants no part of the dike responsibility now, but he was pushing hard to take over for the Corps of Engineers in 2016.

Run-of-the-mill flip-flop or political expediency? I guess it doesn’t matter now.


The Human Face of 60,000 Acres

Jonathan Allen

National Cabbage Day might mean nothing to you (it was Friday, Feb. 17, by the way), but it does to Jonathan Allen of R.C. Hatton Farms. The cabbages you see in this photo are his. So is the farm. And so are a lot of things you don’t see: for starters, generations of his family’s blood, sweat and tears.

I’m using this National Cabbage Day photo to put a human face on above-mentioned Senate President Joe Negron’s plan to buy 60,000 acres of Everglades Agricultural Area land for a reservoir. Allen’s Hatton Farms — these cabbages, which EAA Farmers tell me are rotated with sweet corn and sugar — are smack in the middle of one of the circles Negron drew in August of EAA land he wants to turn into a reservoir.

Maybe the Everglades Foundation thinks all its land plan hurts is sugar. But look at this photo hard and long. When we know another southern reservoir is no silver bullet against Lake Okeechobee discharges, do we want to zero out this picture and the life and people and food supply it represents? 

My Couldn’t-Agree-More Quote of the Week

“We are confident that Scott Pruitt is up to the challenge.  He has the experience, determination, and commitment to the Constitution’s federalist system to roll back the regulatory rampage of the last eight years and return the EPA to its core mission of keeping our air and water clean.” — Competitive Enterprise Institute‘s Myron Bell on the Senate’s confirmation of Scott Pruitt as the next administrator of Environmental Protection Agency.

Reach Nancy Smith at [email protected] or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith

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