The head of the Florida chapter of the National Rifle Association on Friday blasted the proposals by Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature in response to the Parkland shootings, calling them “political eyewash” that will only “punish law-abiding gun owners.”
“It’s gratuitous gun control,” said Marion Hammer, long-time lobbyist for the NRA. “We oppose punishing law-abiding gun owners. This had nothing to do with law-abiding gun owners and it punishes law-abiding gun owners for the acts of a criminal and the failure of the FBI, DCF and the SRO who wouldn’t do his job.”
Scott and Florida lawmakers proposed major changes to gun laws, school safety improvements and more money for mental health in response to the killings of 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
Republican legislative leaders went further than the governor, however, saying they will impose a three-day waiting period for all gun purchases in the state and allow school districts to implement an optional program to train school personnel as law enforcement deputies and allow them to carry concealed weapons on school campuses.
But they all support plans to give law enforcement more tools to take guns out of the hands of people who have been deemed by a court to be dangerous.
Hammer said the NRA “conceptually” supports the idea of restricting gun access to the mentally ill but could not comment on the specific proposals by the governor and legislators because they had not yet released the language and “this is very tricky stuff.”
“The devil is in the details and we haven’t seen any language,” she said. “For years, we have supported keeping guns out of the hands of people with mental illness when we couldn’t get anything else.”
She said the age limit is also nothing more than a symbolic change.
“If the age limit had been 21, he wouldn’t have been able to buy it from a gun dealer, which doesn’t mean he wouldn’t t have been able to get one,” she said. “He could have bought one from a friend. He could have gone to a street corner where he knew somebody was selling guns — because in any major city, you can buy a gun in less than 30 minutes illegally.”
The age limits will affect a “hunter who shoot birds with shotguns … deer and subsistence hunters,” Hammer said. “That is going to affect people who obey the law. Did the Parkland shooter obey the law? Did any of these mass murders? It just makes no sense.”
Although both the governor’s and legislative plans exempt veterans and members of the military from the age limits to purchase a firearm, Hammer said that underscores the unequal application of the law.
“When you’re 18 years of age, you can go overseas and die for your country,” she said. “How can they say we don’t trust you to buy a gun, but you can die for your country?”