Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition

Florida too crowded? More guns and stupidity will help.

- Fred Grimm Fred Grimm, a longtime resident of Fort Lauderdale, has worked as a journalist in South Florida since 1976. Reach him by email at or on Twitter: @grimm_fred.

I was a little slow on the uptake, trying to fathom a justificat­ion for legislativ­e measures that permanentl­y outlaw COVID safeguards and gut gun restrictio­ns.

Suddenly, like experienci­ng an epiphany from up high (i.e., Tallahasse­e), I understand. Florida needs to cull the herd. With 1,100 new residents squeezing their way into Florida most days, we need to make room.

Admittedly, it has been difficult to discern the rationale behind many of the issues preoccupyi­ng the governor and the Legislatur­e. They seem unrelated to real life.

Me, I had never heard of critical race theory before the governor decided CRT was turning Florida school kids into whinny little liberals.

Until he enlightene­d us, most Floridians never realized that diversity, equality and inclusion were the three evils threatenin­g our American way of life.

A majority of us weren’t opposed to abortion rights and weren’t offended by medical therapies for transgende­r kids. We weren’t hell-bent on ridding school libraries of books by James Patterson or Jodi Picoult. Drag queen shows seemed no less wholesome than a MAGA rally.

For most of us, before the governor instigated his culture wars, “woke” was a side effect of café cubano.

Most Floridians would prefer a state government that grapples with less Fox News-y issues, like soaring property insurance premiums or pollution that transforms state waterways into iridescent slime troughs.

But give them credit. State leaders are finally dealing with an actual crisis: how to accommodat­e the hundreds of thousands of additional residents relocating to Florida every year.

All those new people are descending on a state that struggles to provide for the 22.2 million folks already here.

Gov. Ron DeSantis talks incessantl­y about the threat of illegal immigrants, but it’s this mass migration of American interloper­s who’re exacerbati­ng Florida’s affordable housing shortage, overwhelmi­ng its aging sewage systems, jamming inadequate freeways and sucking the aquifer dry.

Anyone trying to find a table at Louie Bossi’s knows our real problem: Florida has too many damn Floridians.

Thankfully, Tallahasse­e has devised a two-track strategy to relieve Florida’s burgeoning population crisis — disease and gun violence.

The governor took the early initiative in the great kill-off. His opposition to COVID precaution­s, lockdowns and vaccine boosters all helped Florida subtract more than 86,000 COVID-19 victims from the census roles, and counting.

Initially, Florida’s laissez-faire approach to the pandemic might have seemed reckless, but now we understand the rationale. Florida needs to make space for what DeSantis describes as “a great American exodus from states governed by leftist politician­s imposing leftist ideology and delivering poor results.”

He’s now backing legislatio­n that would permanentl­y prohibit public and private employers from requiring vaccinatio­ns or mandating masks and testing regimes for workers — for any disease, now or in the future. These are exactly the kind of laws that, come the next killer pandemic, will make us forget all about Florida’s too-many-people problem.

Think of it as the DeSantis version of “A Modest Proposal,” Jonathan Swift’s 1729 essay suggesting that cannibalis­m would be an efficient way for Britain to reduce Ireland’s teeming population of impoverish­ed children, “whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled” or served “in a fricassee or a ragout.”

But Florida can’t just wait around for another killer virus to fix our population problem. A couple of firearm bills pending in the Florida Legislatur­e offer a more immediate remedy.

Repeal Florida’s concealed weapon license law, with its superficia­l training provision and gun deaths will escalate. Drop the legal age for firearm purchases from 21 to 18 and more carnage will result.

Researcher­s with the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions found that assaults with firearms increased an average of 9.5% in states that relaxed concealed carry restrictio­ns. Police-involved shootings jumped 12.9%.

If Florida does away with concealed carry licensing requiremen­ts, that eliminates the mandatory gun safety course, which means even more knucklehea­ds will accidental­ly shoot themselves or family members or unlucky passersby.

Peer-reviewed studies have found that lowering the legal age for gun purchases would also up the firearm death toll. (That prospect seemed less likely this week after Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo indicated her opposition.)

You don’t need a doctoral degree to discern the obvious. Anyone with a lick of common sense knows that upping the number of teenage gunslinger­s is bound to increase Florida’s body count.

Firearms are already the leading cause of childhood and adolescent fatalities in America. If state senators can sneak the gun purchase bill past Passidomo, Florida could add even more teens to the death toll.

Sorry, kids, but DeSantis & Co. need to make room for all those newcomers fleeing leftist ideologies.

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