A one-time South Florida Congressional candidate who vowed to fight gun rights groups will now have oversight of the state’s massive concealed weapon license program.
Newly installed Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried, a Democrat, on Monday announced she had picked Mary Barzee Flores for the job of Deputy Commissioner for Consumer Affairs. As such, Barzee Flores would be in charge of several of the Department’s programs, including concealed weapons permitting.
“I’m honored to join an administration focused on protecting consumer rights and the interests, safety, and security of all Floridians,” said Barzee Flores in a statement.
An attorney and former state circuit court judge, Barzee Flores was nominated to the federal bench by President Obama in 2015 but her appointment never made it out of the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. She subsequently ran last year as a Democrat in an effort to move into Florida’s vacant 27th Congressional district seat but was trounced in the party primary.
However, during her failed bid for a spot on Capitol Hill, she was outspoken against the National Rifle Association, arguing that, “The NRA won’t be able to buy me and I’ll make sure that Congress listens to the American people and mandates universal background checks, closes dangerous loopholes and reinstates the federal assault weapons ban.”
As such, she earned an “F” rating from the NRA but picked up the solid endorsement of Giffords, the Brady Campaign, Mom’s Demand Action, and Everytown, the latter of which contributed monetarily to her campaign.
According to statistics from the state, Florida has well over 2.1 million carry licenses in circulation as of the end of 2018, with most of those being for concealed weapons, a figure that puts the Sunshine State at the top of the heap when it comes to “shall issue” permitting.
Gun rights advocates hold that, regardless of their stated views, state officials are obligated to safeguard Florida law.
“Despite all the bluster about their personal political positions, the fact remains, Commissioner Fried and Deputy Commissioner Barzee Flores must uphold the Constitution and the law, and can’t use their personal political philosophies to re-tool the licensing program,” Marion Hammer, former NRA president and the state’s primary pro-gun lobbyist, told Guns.com on Tuesday.
“The CW program is not a political football, it’s a program that facilitates the constitutional right to keep and bear arms and the constitutional right of self-defense and 1.9 million license holders will hold them accountable,” said Hammer.