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.