The most influential gun lobbyist in the United States has declared war on the Florida Republicans who passed a set of state firearm reforms in the wake of the Parkland school shooting.
In a scathing post published on the website Ammoland, Marion Hammer, the National Rifle Association’s top lobbyist in the state, calls out by name the 17 Republican state Senators who joined three Democrats in voting for the package, which cleared the chamber with no votes to spare. She tells readers that these elected officials are no longer worthy of the NRA’s endorsement, nor gun-rights advocates’ support. To mark the Republicans as turncoats, she warns, the NRA is likely to slash their ratings in the letter-grade system that the group uses to score politicians, and curry their favor.
“Major reductions in grades are warranted by a breach of trust,” Hammer writes. “The ‘A’ and ‘A+’ Grades are long gone. Some of these Republicans may never see an ‘A’ again.”
Florida Republicans have allowed the relentless pro-gun operator to become a de facto member of government.
Hammer, 78, is a former NRA president who has served as the gun group’s Florida lobbyist for more than three decades. An investigative profile of her by The Trace’s Mike Spies, published in partnership with The New Yorker, revealed Hammer’s immense sway in the state Legislature. Hammer has the power to draft bills, shepherd them to passage, and marshal tax-payer-funded government personnel and resources at her whim. Her power comes from her ability to spur the state’s considerable block of gun-rights supporters into action. When they vote, Hammer uses the NRA’s grading system to provide them with direction.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, or SB-7026, was the greatest affront to Hammer’s rule in years. The bill, which raced through the Legislature in the weeks following the Parkland massacre, increased school security, allowed districts to arm teachers, and established a ‘red flag’ program, which enables law enforcement and certain civilians to petition a court to remove weapons from at-risk individuals. It also included several significant new gun restrictions. Specifically, the new law:
- Raised the the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 from 18
- Mandated a three-day waiting period for receiving a gun after its purchase
- Banned bump stocks and other rapid-fire devices
Hammer and the NRA vehemently opposed the legislation. Their appeals did not sway many Republican lawmakers, or Governor Rick Scott. An analysis performed by The Trace found that 67 Republicans with A-ratings from the NRA voted for the gun bill.
“They lacked the courage to uphold their oath of office and keep their word to constituents who voted for them,” Hammer writes. “They were in total control. They no longer deserve your trust.”
Hammer singles out State Senator Doug Broxson, referring to him as the “linchpin.” A report by The Tampa Bay Times said several lawmakers described the freshman state senator, who represents one of the state’s most conservative districts, as the deciding vote. “Broxson caved to threats and promises from Senate leadership and switched his vote and sold you out,” Hammer writes.
This November, half of the state Senate’s 40 seats will be up for election. Of the 17 Republicans named in Hammer’s memo, nine are up for re-election, or must vacate their posts because of term limits. The filing deadline for candidates is June 22, with the Republican primary slated for August 28.