The president of the Florida Sheriff’s Association says he’s offended by comments made by the National Rifle Association’s Marion Hammer over a gun bill that died this legislative Session. It’s a measure that would have allowed people to legally carry a firearm without a concealed weapons permit during a mandatory evacuation.
The bill was one of the priorities of the NRA and its failure to pass the full Legislature has upset NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer. Law enforcement voiced some concerns over language in the bill as it moved through the process, and a Florida Sheriff’s Association-backed amendment tacked onto the bill when it came to the Senate floor in the last days of session effectively killed the bill, according to the bill’s own author.
According to the Associated Press, Hammer says sheriffs simply don’t want to be “inconvenienced by more citizens carrying guns.” She also made similar remarks during Session’s halfway point.
“This bill is about law abiding people being able to protect themselves and their families during a state of emergency. It is not about the convenience of law enforcement. They’re not going to be there to take care of you. They’re going to be doing all manner of things. They need to trust the people,” said Hammer in late March.
In a letter to NRA members and Unified Sportsmen of Florida—another group she represents—Hammer also claimed the Florida Sheriff’s Association declared war on the Second Amendment.
"I would tell you I suspect the majority of the Florida Sheriffs are NRA members. We're all staunch supporters of the 2nd Amendment. We are personally and professionally offended by her statements," responded Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, the FSA's President.
Speaking to Tallahassee reporters Monday, Judd says Hammer’s statements are far from the truth, adding that they tried to cooperate with the NRA lobbyist during the process.
“Certainly, our goal was for us to work together to craft legislation so our law enforcement officers would know exactly how to respond. She didn’t want any of that. She wanted a very vague bill, which for all intents and purposes would have left us into a quandary as to 1) how to enforce the law, and certainly set innocent people of the state of Florida up to be inappropriately arrested,” Judd added.
The bill also gained some notoriety after Sen. Dwight Bullard (D-Miami) tried to rename the measure “a bill related to the zombie apocalypse.” But, that amendment to the bill never got taken up.
Meanwhile, the bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg), says he intends to bring the issue up again next year and continue discussions with the interested parties over the summer.
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