Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is proposing to reinstate a 200-person “state guard” that will fall under the control of the governor’s office and not the federal government. 

The proposal has inflamed the governor’s liberal critics. They have gone overboard to accuse him of “creating a secret police” as well as being “extremely dangerous for the future of the United States.” 

According to DeSantis’s proposal, $3.5 million from the state’s military budget will be reallocated to the state guard unit. The funds will be utilized to “enable civilians to be trained in the best emergency response techniques” to assist in the “event of a hurricane, natural disasters, and other state emergencies.”

DeSantis’s proposal is part of his military budget which includes funds for establishing three new armories, a new National Guard Headquarters, and for supporting servicemembers who are working toward college degrees.

Florida last had a state guard during World War II. At the time, it took the place of Florida National Guard troops who were off to fight in the war. It was disbanded in 1947.

Florida State Guard patch
Florida State Guard patch (Florida History Museum)

DeSantis, who has had several pushbacks with the Biden administration said the reformation of the State Guard would “not be encumbered by the federal government,” adding that the state guard would give him “the flexibility and the ability needed to respond to events in our state in the most effective way possible.”

Nevertheless, liberals sent panic signals across social media where the governor’s critics claim he’s trying to create his own private paramilitary force. Pete Crist, the Democratic challenger to DeSantis’ gubernatorial campaign for re-election in 2022, lashed out at the proposal. “No Governor should have his own handpicked secret police,” Crist posted on Twitter. 

State Senator Annette Taddeo, another gubernatorial candidate, also took to Twitter stating that DeSantis was a “wannabe dictator trying to make his move for his own vigilante militia like we’ve seen in Cuba.”

Yet another gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried, who is the state’s Agricultural Commissioner said, “Millions of Floridians know what it’s like to live under regimes like this — and came to our state to escape them. This must be stopped.”

Brandon Friedman, a former official in the Obama administration, perhaps had the harshest take, calling the proposal dangerous for the country. 

“Florida governor Ron DeSantis is either openly preparing for a break from the federal government or he wants his followers to *believe* he is. Either way, it’s extremely dangerous for the future of the United States,” he said.

States with active state guard units
Map of the U.S. showing which states have active state guard units. (Wikimedia Commons)

What the liberal critics are ignoring is that 23 states have state guards that answer to the respective state’s governors. Included in these states are typically left-leaning states such as California, New York, Vermont, Virginia, Oregon, and Washington. 

In early 2020, a number of state defense forces were activated to aid state and national agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those included the Alaska State Defense Force, the California State Guard, the Governor’s Guards of Connecticut, the Georgia State Defense Force, the Indiana Guard Reserve,[ the Maryland Defense Force, the New York Guard, the Ohio Military Reserve, the South Carolina State Guard, the Tennessee State Guard, the Texas State Guard, and the Virginia Defense Force.