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Politics

Marion Hammer Talks Florida's Biggest Gun Fights

February 4, 2016 - 8:30pm
Marion Hammer
Marion Hammer

If there’s a gun issue in front of Florida lawmakers, Marion Hammer will be there to testify. 

Hammer is a staple at the Florida Capitol. She’s been working as a lobbyist with the NRA since the late 1970s, helping the gun rights group push legislation they believe is essential to upholding Second Amendment rights. 

But Hammer doesn’t classify herself as a typical lobbyist.

“I’ve never considered myself a persuader,” she told Sunshine State News. “I view myself more as an educator. When I educate with facts and common sense and reason, then [opponents] going to be with us. Education and knowing the truth [are] a powerful thing.”

Over the last three decades, Hammer has seen bill after bill pushed through the halls of the Capitol. 

She's been in Tallahassee to see lawmakers pass some of the state’s biggest pro-gun laws. She’s outlasted state lawmakers who have termed out. She’s seen eight different governors and has testified on thousands of bills. 

With Hammer at the front lines of their charge, gun rights groups have declared many victories in Florida in the last 38 years. 

One of the biggest wins, Hammer told Sunshine State News, happened in 1987. It was during that year that Florida passed legislation to change its concealed carry permit requirements. 

Up until then, it was wholly up to county sheriff, judge, or local police officer to decide who received a concealed weapons permit. But after 1987, Florida enacted a non-discretionary system where state authorities were required provide a concealed carry license to any applicant who met specific criteria, including a firearm safety course and a clean background check.

That legislation passed primarily due to campaigning from the Unified Sportsmen of Florida and NRA. Since then, Florida has issued around 1.4 million concealed weapons permits.

Another big victory for gun rights, Hammer told SSN, happened in 2005 when the Florida Legislature passed the state’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, which says a person can use force to prevent or great bodily harm.

Stand Your Ground has been one of the state’s more controversial laws, making headlines and sparking discussion of the law in the Sunshine State following the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin incident. 

Over the years, Hammer says the NRA has developed close relationships with other pro-gun groups like Florida Carry, a grassroots group founded in 2010 which has worked with the NRA to promote Second Amendment rights.

But the NRA has had its opponents --  Hammer said a few groups have pushed back against the organization, too. 

Hammer said most of the opposition comes from national groups, not state groups. The Brady Campaign and the Bloomberg Group have been two of the biggest national organizations to fight back on gun laws.

“There just aren’t any statewide gun control groups,” she explained. 

Lawmakers, too, have come out in full force against pro-gun legislation. 

“Then of course, as of late the pushback comes from anti-gun Democrats.”

Opponents to gun legislation typically present statistics warning against gun violence and crime, but Hammer says a great deal of those studies are cooked.

“[These groups] are anti-gun by nature and they conduct studies designed to show what they want to show,” she told SSN.

The NRA doesn’t conduct their own studies -- if the group wants to study an issue, Hammer said they’ll hire an independent firm to do the work for them. 

“We use professional studies,” she said. “Independent studies to start out to find an answer. [It’s] not a study designed to create a situation to prove a point. There’s a big difference.”

Hammer and the NRA have been overwhelmingly successful at passing pro-gun legislation through Tallahassee. 

When asked if the group had seen any significant losses over the years, Hammer’s response? No.

“Eventually, everything passes,” she said. “If it’s important enough to start, it’s important enough to finish. That’s why when folks keep asking ‘What if these bills don’t pass?’ Well, they’ll be back. If we file a bill, it will be back and back and back until it passes,” Hammer said.

That’s likely the case for bills currently making their way through Tallahassee, like campus carry, which is presumably dead for this year’s legislative session.

At the end of the day, Hammer and the NRA won’t give up the fight for what they say is a battle for Second Amendment rights.

[Our] goal is to restore Second Amendment to the full intent of the founding fathers and to protect freedom at all costs,” Hammer said. 

And to those expecting Hammer to go away any time soon? Not a chance.

Hammer adds:

“As long as there are people who want to deny your rights, somebody is going to have to be out there fighting to protect them.”

 

 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.

Comments

Marion you have an army of 1.5 Million concealed permit holders whom are Florida registered voters (that always vote) awaiting your command!

Marion we love you! You make our founding fathers proud! We support you and always have your back!!!! MOLON LABE!!!!!!!!!

"Molan Labe !"

Thank you Marion for been out there taking care of our Second Amendment rights.

Marion Hammer is a true patriot!

Kym, your argument is flawed from the start. There is no Constitutional Amendment that would allow you to set fire to a dress rack, cause public disruptions, abuse children or own weapons of mass destruction. What the 2nd Amendment does say, is the public has the right to keep and bear arms. In the time this amendment was created, it was common for people to go everywhere armed and do it responsibly. There is a right to privacy for citizens, but not terrorists or those citizens who would seek to do free people harm. 96.89% of legal gun owners never break the law or cause security problems with guns. 100% of illegal gun owners and criminals do. It is offensive for you to suggest such a desire to preserve our 2nd amendment right somehow has something to do with a good ol' boy/girl network or Jim Crow. I am a PhD in my field of practice and believe strongly in the preservation of this right. There are simply no facts available to support any of your argument.

The fundamental nature of society requires that every right must have its corresponding limitation, even Constitutional rights. These limits have been decided by the our justice system since the Constitution was enacted and from the day there was a Supreme Court to act. I don't have the right to walk into a store and set fire to the dress rack. I don't have the right to do what I want with my property if my actions overly disrupt my neighbor's rights. There are limitations to my rights to raise my own children as I see fit. I have no problem with any of those limitations. Evidently, I don't even have the right to privacy anymore because the VERY PEOPLE who keep saying that the right to bear arms will not end (until everyone has a nuclear bomb in their garage), say government surveillance is necessary to protect citizens from the wrong people using guns (and other weapons) to blow up our schools, shopping centers, or attack us by other means. By that logic, too many guns on the street carried by our OWN citizenry also create a severe security problem for our country. That is, unless we really think that 100% of our citizens to act rationally at all times... Good old boy/girl networks are alive and kicking and will continue to influence who is able to carry guns and who is not. Does Jim Crow sound familiar? Now what, Ms. Hammer?

You are precisely the problem with society my dear; an overly frantic, overly educated, haus frau flitting around an "empty nest" with too much to say and no longer anyone to say it to... Put away your Ipad, don your Birkenstocks and go for a walk in the fresh air; We're concerned for your mental health...

Marion - "Don't take your guns to town...".

Thank you Marion Hammer for fighting for our rights. You are a hero.

Thomas......... Maybe you should look up the meaning of "hero". That word gets thrown around way too much these days.

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