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Hammer: NRA will not ‘be reasonable’ about gun control

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 by Dara Kam

Florida NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer stood her ground at a Capital Tiger Bay club this afternoon, blasting President Obama’s background check proposal, sharing her childhood history and saying that the NRA will never “be reasonable” when it comes to compromising about gun rights.

Hammer, a former national president of the gun rights organization, surprised many at the luncheon this afternoon when she revealed that she is a lifelong Democrat. The Capitol city is dominated by Democrats.

Hammer has been the NRA’s Florida lobbyist for 39 years and became the first woman to head the organization largely because of her successes in the Sunshine State, where she pushed a number of first-in-the-nation gun bills, including the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law.

Hammer’s influence is considered responsible for Florida having some of the most lenient gun laws in the country.

Hammer said she was raised by her grandparents in South Carolina after her father was killed in Okinawa. She said her grandfather gave her a .22-gauge rifle at age six. She used her nickel-a-week allowance to buy three cents worth of shells and spent the remainder on penny candy, she said.

And she said she hoarded her ammunition because her grandfather sometimes didn’t have a nickel to spare.

And Hammer shared the roots of her hard-nosed approach on gun issues.

“My grandfather used to tell me there’s nothing in the middle of the road but a yellow streak and dead possums,” she said.

Hammer blasted lawmakers, including Obama, who demand gun regulation in the aftermath of shooting tragedies like Sandy Hook instead of blaming “poor parenting” or “misguided closure” of mental health facilities.

“When people get fat, do you blame forks and spoons?” she said.

Asked why the NRA rejects reasonable compromises like limiting the number of shells in magazines, Hammer elicited her homespun toughness.

“When we compromise, it’s only the first step and they always want more,” she said.

Hammer said the debate in the U.S. Senate regarding gun control was an example of “anti-gunners’” attempts to take guns away.

“When the NRA tries to be reasonable, we end up losing far more than anybody ever dreamed. We will be strong. We will be firm. And we will not be reasonable,” she said.

NRA blasts Obama’s call for gun control

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013 by Dara Kam

President Obama’s call for gun control will lead to “government confiscation of legal firearms,” and worse, according to the National Rifle Association.
The NRA posted a response to Obama’s State of the Union address on YouTube, citing Justice Department memos that said an assault weapons ban won’t work without mandatory buyback programs.


In the video, NRA Executive Director Chris Cox urges gun owners to call Congress and tell them to block the president’s gun control plan.
Cox also cites government documents that say universal background checks would work best with gun registration, something he calls a “unprecedented” breach of promise.
Obama received resounding applause last night during his speech as victims of gun violence looked on while the president repeatedly demanded that “they deserve a vote” on gun control.

President Obama calls for gun regulation

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 by Dara Kam

President Barack Obama outlined his plan for gun regulation in the wake of the massacre of 20 first graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday. Authorities say gunman Adam Lanza used a military-style Bushman rifle to kill the children, ages six and seven, as well as his mother and himself.

Obama called on Congress to “reduce the epidemic of gun violence that plagues this country every single day” by reinstating the federal assault on semi-automatic weapons, limiting the number of bullets in ammunition clips and requiring background checks before anyone can purchase a gun.

Here’s Obama’s prepared remarks at a news conference in Washington this morning. After the jump, read how he responded to reporters’ questions about gun control.

Good morning, everybody. It’s now been five days since the heartbreaking tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut; three days since we gathered as a nation to pray for the victims. And today, a few more of the 20 small children and six educators who were taken from us will be laid to rest.

We may never know all the reasons why this tragedy happened. We do know that every day since, more Americans have died of gun violence. We know such violence has terrible consequences for our society. And if there is even one thing that we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation — all of us — to try.

Over these past five days, a discussion has reemerged as to what we might do not only to deter mass shootings in the future, but to reduce the epidemic of gun violence that plagues this country every single day. And it’s encouraging that people of all different backgrounds and beliefs and political persuasions have been willing to challenge some old assumptions and change longstanding positions.

That conversation has to continue. But this time, the words need to lead to action.

We know this is a complex issue that stirs deeply held passions and political divides. And as I said on Sunday night, there’s no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. We’re going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun. We’re going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence. And any actions we must take must begin inside the home and inside our hearts.

But the fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing. The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean we can’t steadily reduce the violence, and prevent the very worst violence.

That’s why I’ve asked the Vice President to lead an effort that includes members of my Cabinet and outside organizations to come up with a set of concrete proposals no later than January — proposals that I then intend to push without delay. This is not some Washington commission. This is not something where folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside. This is a team that has a very specific task, to pull together real reforms right now. I asked Joe to lead this effort in part because he wrote the 1994 Crime Bill that helped law enforcement bring down the rate of violent crime in this country. That plan — that bill also included the assault weapons ban that was publicly supported at the time by former Presidents including Ronald Reagan.

The good news is there’s already a growing consensus for us to build from. A majority of Americans support banning the sale of military-style assault weapons. A majority of Americans support banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips. A majority of Americans support laws requiring background checks before all gun purchases, so that criminals can’t take advantage of legal loopholes to buy a gun from somebody who won’t take the responsibility of doing a background check at all.

I urge the new Congress to hold votes on these measures next year in a timely manner. And considering Congress hasn’t confirmed a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in six years — the agency that works most closely with state and local law enforcement to keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals — I’d suggest that they make this a priority early in the year.

Look, like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. This country has a strong tradition of gun ownership that’s been handed down from generation to generation. Obviously across the country there are regional differences. There are differences between how people feel in urban areas and rural areas. And the fact is the vast majority of gun owners in America are responsible — they buy their guns legally and they use them safely, whether for hunting or sport shooting, collection or protection.

But you know what, I am also betting that the majority — the vast majority — of responsible, law-abiding gun owners would be some of the first to say that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few from buying a weapon of war. I’m willing to bet that they don’t think that using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas — that an unbalanced man shouldn’t be able to get his hands on a military-style assault rifle so easily; that in this age of technology, we should be able to check someone’s criminal records before he or she can check out at a gun show; that if we work harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one in Newtown — or any of the lesser-known tragedies that visit small towns and big cities all across America every day.

Since Friday morning, a police officer was gunned down in Memphis, leaving four children without their mother. Two officers were killed outside a grocery store in Topeka. A woman was shot and killed inside a Las Vegas casino. Three people were shot inside an Alabama hospital. A four-year-old was caught in a drive-by in Missouri, and taken off life support just yesterday. Each one of these Americans was a victim of the everyday gun violence that takes the lives of more than 10,000 Americans every year — violence that we cannot accept as routine.

So I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. We won’t prevent them all — but that can’t be an excuse not to try. It won’t be easy — but that can’t be an excuse not to try.

And I’m not going to be able to do it by myself. Ultimately if this effort is to succeed it’s going to require the help of the American people — it’s going to require all of you. If we’re going to change things, it’s going to take a wave of Americans — mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, pastors, law enforcement, mental health professionals — and, yes, gun owners — standing up and saying “enough” on behalf of our kids.

It will take commitment and compromise, and most of all, it will take courage. But if those of us who were sent here to serve the public trust can summon even one tiny iota of the courage those teachers, that principal in Newtown summoned on Friday — if cooperation and common sense prevail — then I’m convinced we can make a sensible, intelligent way to make the United States of America a safer, stronger place for our children to learn and to grow.

(more…)

UPDATE: Lawmaker asks Scott to speed up ‘stand your ground’ task force, convene special session

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: A spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott said “it makes no sense whatsoever” to convene a special session or expedite the task force until the investigations into Trayvon Martin’s shooting death are concluded.

“The Governor has already convened a task force that will review all the facts of the case and make recommendations to him. It makes no sense whatsoever to call a special session before the FBI, FDLE and special prosecutor have completed their investigations, or before the task force has reviewed the facts, or before recommendations based on those facts have been presented to the governor,” Scott spokesman Brian Burgess said in an e-mail.

Waiting up to a year to start investigating the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law is too long, state Sen. Chris Smith said today.

Smith, a black lawyer from Fort Lauderdale and the incoming Senate Democratic Leader, is asking Gov. Rick Scott to speed up the task force the governor ordered to look into Florida’s first-in-the-nation “Stand Your Ground law” that allows individuals to use deadly force when they feel threatened.

The shooting death of Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed, by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who said he shot Trayvon in self-defense, has provoked lawmakers like Smith to demand an investigation into the use of the law.

Scott conceded to demands from black lawyers and civil rights activists’ demands for an outside prosecutor to take over the investigation into the Feb. 26 shooting. And Scott said he wants a special task force to look into the use of the law, passed in 2005.

But Scott’s given State Attorney Angela Corey of Jacksonville, the special prosecutor in the case, up to a year to complete her investigation. And the task force won’t meet until her inquiry officially ends.

That’s too long, Smith said in a statement released Tuesday. Smith wants the task force to start meeting next week and a special legislative session to start a month later.

“The questionable incidents and lives lost under Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law did not begin, nor do I expect it to end, with the tragedy in Sanford,” Smith wrote in a letter hand-delivered to Scott’s office today. “While the special prosecutor sets about unraveling the facts in the case, and whether self defense was a legitimate factor, the law remains intact – with all the same components still in place for more killings and additional claims of self defense, warranted or not.”

Smith, then a Florida House member, argued against the “Castle Doctrine” proposal in 2005 before lawmakers passed it and Gov. Jeb Bush signed it into law with NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer by his side. He and other critics say the law gives vigilantes and others cover when they incite deadly confrontations. Smith said he intends to file legislation to tweak the law. But supporters say the law does not give permission to anyone to pursue and confront anyone but rather to stand their ground when they are threatened.

It’s highly unlikely the GOP-dominated legislature would revisit the law prior to the November elections, according to observers including Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher, R- St. Augustine, a former Republican Party of Florida chairman. The NRA pushed the law and is a powerful lobby in a crucial election year.

But Rep. Perry Thurston, a black lawyer from Plantation, said that is all the more reason why the issue needs to be addressed now.

“There can’t be a better time than now for them to take it on,” Thurston, incoming House Democratic Leader, said. “The right thing to do is address it sooner rather than delay it.”

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