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Marion Hammer’

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.

League of Women Voters hears about guns, Louboutins and elections

Thursday, April 11th, 2013 by Dara Kam

The League of Women Voters of Florida heard from both sides on the gun debate and elections and ethics reform during their annual gathering in the Capitol this morning.

National Rifle Association Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer addressed the crowd after Quincy Police Chief Walter McNeil, a former president of the International Police Chiefs Association who’s helped the White House craft a gun control policy.

It’s the first time Hammer’s been asked to appear before the League in her nearly four decades of lobbying.

She told the group, which backs stricter gun control measures, that semi-automatic weapons function the same as traditional guns but look fancier.

“It’s technology that’s been around for over 100 years and the only diffrerence is cosmetics. The cosmetics are new,” Hammer said. She said that a gun with the plastic stock replaced by a wooden stock would fire the same way.

“That’s no different than a lady in an elegant dress and nylon stockings and Christian Louboutin high-heeled shoes and expensive jewelry changing clothes into blue jeans, a sweatshirt, Nikes and a Timex watch. The only difference is the way she looks,” she said.

Hammer also said that Florida’s first-in-the-nation “Stand Your Ground” law does not need to be changed. Gov. Rick Scott appointed a task force to look into the law in response to an outcry over the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old unarmed black teenager killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

“If criminals don’t want to get shot, they should leave people alone,” Hammer said.

Rep. Mark Pafford, celebrating his 47th birthday on Thursday, spoke about elections and health care.
(more…)

NRA-backed bill closes loophole allowing mentally ill to buy guns

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013 by Dara Kam

Lawmakers are trying to close a loophole that allows individuals who have been declared an imminent danger to themselves or others to purchase firearms.

The measure – the only one of a slew of proposals sponsored by Democrats that has the blessing of the National Rifle Association – addresses a “huge gap in the law,” Miami-Dade County Judge Steven Leifman told the House Criminal Justice Committee this morning before its unanimous passage.

Under current Florida law, only mentally ill individuals who have been deemed an imminent danger and who have been involuntarily committed to treatment after being Baker Acted are added to a national database prohibiting them from purchasing guns.

But just a fraction – about one percent – of the 115,000 Baker Acts in Florida last year resulted in involuntary commitment. The other 99 percent of mentally ill individuals voluntarily submitted to treatment, meaning they could purchase guns as soon as they are out of the hospital.

“It makes no sense now that if you’ve been declared by two doctors that you are an imminent danger to yourself or others, why should you be able to go out and purchase a gun? If you’re suicidal, it’s an insanity. It’s just a horror waiting to happen,” Judge Leifman, who served as the Florida Supreme Court’s advisor on Criminal Justice and Mental Health.

Closing the loophole may prevent tragedies such as yesterday’s suicide at the University of Central Florida this week, Leifman said. Police say UCF dropout James Oliver Seevakumaran, who was found dead in his room, planned an attack before killing himself.

“These things don’t just happen. People have histories of depression. They have histories of mental illnesses. And when they get to the point where they’re imminently a danger to themselves or others, I think it behooves all of us to prohibit people at that point from purchasing the gun,” Leifman said.

NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer said the bill was necessary.

“People with mental illnesses who are determined to be a danger to self or others are scamming the system. Many of them have been Baker Acted five, 10, 20 times. They never get into the system to prevent them from purchasing a firearm,” Hammer said.

Palm Beach County Democrats file universal background gun check bill

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013 by Dara Kam

Rep. Lori Berman, Sen. Maria Sachs, Rep. Bobby Powell

Acknowledging their proposal to close a “gun show loophole” is a long shot, two Democratic Palm Beach County lawmakers are hoping their identical bills will at least create a debate about the issue during the 2013 legislative session now underway.

Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, and Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, pitched their identical “Universal Background Check Act” bills (HB 1343, SB 1640) that would require background check every time a gun is sold.

“I am not so sold on the idea that this bill is going to pass. I’m being very candid with you,” Sachs told reporters after a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “But let’s have the discussion. Let’s bring everybody to the table and let’s have this discussion so that we have a gun policy in this state that’s reflective of the diversity of the state.”

Currently, a person buying a weapon in a gun store must pass law enforcement background checks, but persons buying arms at gun shows or privately from an owner do not, meaning they could be felons or otherwise prohibited from owning weapons.

Sachs and Berman, joined by county commissioners Mary Lou Berger, Paulette Burdick and Shelley Vana, former commissioner Burt Aaronson and state Rep. Bobby Powell, D-Riviera Beach, said they both support Second Amendment rights.

But Berman cited figures from the Coalition to End Gun Violence that showed that background checks are only completed on about 60 percent of the gun sales in the country.

“The issue is that we need to stop the proliferation of people having guns and we need to make sure it’s all being done in a correct, proper and legal manner and that anybody who’s buying a gun has to do it through the proper channels. And that’s what this bill tries to address,” she said.

The bill would require anyone who wants to transfer or sell a gun to use a licensed gun dealer to conduct the transaction. The dealer would be responsible for the background check. If the buyer is ineligible to purchase the gun, the dealer would have to run a background check on the seller in order to return it.

If neither person passes the background requirements, the dealer would have to turn over the gun to the local sheriff within 24 hours.

“This is not a gun show loophole bill. It is a universal background check bill. And it is so brazen it even includes confiscation of firearms,” said National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer, a former president of the national association.

But Vana, a former state representative, said the bill makes sense.

“This is a no-nonsense, non-radical method of trying to rein in the terror that has rained down on our citizens,” Vana said.

Hammer says federal law already makes it a felony to sell a gun to anyone a seller knows or reasonably should have known is prohibited from purchasing a firearm.

The bill goes way beyond “fixing a perceived problem,” Hammer said.

“It’s not about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. It’s about making criminals out of law abiding people and taking their guns.”

Palm Beach County Commission sues state over ‘political bullying’ gun law

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Palm Beach County Commission has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, the Florida House and the Florida Senate today over a gun law that that went into effect on Oct. 1. Local officials who violate the law could be removed from office and face a $5,000 fine.

The sanctions “are simply a form of political bullying that serves no governmental purpose” and have a “chilling effect,” the lawsuit reads.

The commission’s lawsuit complains that the new law, sponsored by Sen. Joe Negron, is unconstitutional because it violates the separation of powers because it gives the governor the ability to remove local officials from office and strips local officials of immunity from lawsuits.

Under current law, the governor is only allowed to suspend local officials and the Florida Senate has the power to remove them or reinstate them.

“Threatened removal of individual commissioners in a matter that is consistent with the terms of the Florida Constitution is political overreaching and political bullying that serves no legitimate governmental purpose,” Amy Taylor Petrick, an attorney for the county, wrote in the lawsuit filed in the Palm Beach County Circuit Court today.

The lawsuit asks the court to find that the law is unconstitutional, stop the governor from being able to remove local officials from office and order that they can’t be fined for breaking the law.

Negron said the penalties are necessary because city and county commissioners have ignored a law that gives the legislature the discretion to regulate gun laws.

After the law went into effect, municipalities, counties and state agencies were forced to scrap hundreds of measures dealing with firearms and could no longer bar people from being guns into government buildings, including the state Capitol.

“Political disputes should be resolved in the elected government arena rather than in courtrooms. So we’ll see where it goes from here,” said Negron, who had not seen the lawsuit Tuesday evening.

Negron, R-Stuart, said he does not intend to file a bill to repeal the law during the legislative session that begins next month.

“I would consider that just as I have to follow federal law and I have to follow county laws and city laws when I’m in their counties and cities, they should follow the preemption of the state law then nobody has anything to worry about,” Negron, R-Stuart, said.

Spokeswomen for Bondi and House Speaker Dean Cannon said their lawyers are reviewing the lawsuit.

National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer, who pushed the bill, called the lawsuit un-American.

“They’re using taxpayer dollars to try to keep from being punished for violating the law? That’s exactly the American way, is it?” she said.

FMA will defend docs in complaints over gun questions

Thursday, August 11th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Florida Medical Association will represent doctors in administrative complaints involving a new law that limits what health care providers can ask patients about gun ownership.

But the association’s House of Delegates also voted late last month not to join a lawsuit challenging whether the new law is a violation of doctors’ freedom of speech.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and several doctors’ groups, including the Florida chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Practitioners and the American College of Physicians, filed the lawsuit in June against Gov. Rick Scott and his administration seeking an injunction against what they call the “Physician Gag Law,” already in effect. The groups, later joined by the Palm Beach County Medical Society and the ACLU, also want a federal judge to strike down the law as unconstitutional.

Under the law, doctors and other health care professionals will face sanctions including fines and losing their licenses if they ask patients about guns in the home without a direct belief that the inquiry is relevant to the patient’s safety or health. Pediatricians say the law keeps them from doing their jobs.

FMA general counsel Jeff Scott said the FMA’s House of Delegates rejected a proposal to join the lawsuit but later agreed to a substitute resolution calling for the FMA to help out doctors facing complaints related to the new law.

“We made kind of a policy statement that the doctor-patient relationship is important and to guide us going forward,” Scott said.

National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer, who pushed the legislation passed this session, worked with the FMA and eased off sanctions in an early proposal that would have slapped doctors with up to $5,000 fines and prison time for probing into patients’ gun ownership. Florida is the first state to pass such a law, Hammer said.

Under the amendment approved by the delegates late in July, the FMA will “legally support, to the greatest degree possible, any FMA member subject to disciplinary action based on enforcement of the Florida gun law … if the affected physician was acting based on the medical necessity and safety of the patient or others.” The organization will also be required to “actively oppose an attempt to restrict physician questions to patients or require questions of patients.”

Scott said he doesn’t think the resolution will be an issue because he doesn’t anticipate doctors breaking the law or patient complaints.

“I don’t think this will come into play,” he said.

UPDATE: Physicians threaten lawsuit over ‘docs and Glocks’ bill

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill (HB 155) into law today.

Three groups of physicians are threatening to sue the state if Gov. Rick Scott signs into law a bill barring doctors from asking patients if they own a gun.

Lawyers representing members of the Florida chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Physicians asked Scott to veto the measure (HB 155) because they say it restricts their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.

“Healthcare professionals throughout the state of Florida routinely speak with patients about effective methods to minimize a variety of risks to their health and safety,” attorneys Bruce Manheim Jr. and Douglas Hallward-Driemeier of the Washington-based law firm Ropes & Gray wrote to Scott last week. Scott has until June 9 to act on the law.

Doctors advise patients about safety issues associated with swimming pools, dangerous chemicals, bike helmets and car seats, they wrote, and “provide anticipatory guidance regarding the significant health risks posed by firearms in the household.”

The bill would prohibit those talks and impose severe sanctions including fines and permanent revocation of licenses.

“In sum, if CS/CS/HB 155 becomes law, it will deprive healthcare professionals throughout the state of Florida of their rights under the First Amendment to freedom of speech. In violation of the U.S. Constitution, the law would also deprive patients of potentially life-saving information regarding safety measures they can take to protect their children, families and others from injury or death resulting from unsafe storage or handling of firearms,” the lawyers wrote. “For these reasons, we intend to file a lawsuit against you and other state officials in the event this legislation becomes law.”

The NRA sent out an action alert last week asking members to pressure Scott to sign the measure.

“Doctors need to treat illness, not guns. Pediatricians and other physicians, in growing numbers, are prying into our personal lives, invading our privacy and straying from issues relating to disease and medicine by questioning children or their parents about gun ownership,” the NRA’s Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer, a former NRA president, urged in an e-mail on May 26.

Senate loosens gun laws – muzzles docs, okays ‘open carry’ lite

Thursday, April 28th, 2011 by Dara Kam

With NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer sitting in the front row of the public gallery, the Florida Senate easily approved three bills loosening gun laws, including a measure banning doctors from asking their patients about gun ownership.

Two other measures are now headed to Gov. Rick Scott, an NRA member and gun owner who has said he would sign them into law.

The “open carry” bill (HB 45), watered down yesterday, would protect concealed weapons permit owners from being prosecuted if their guns are accidentally exposed. Proponents of the measure say that current law could subject the inadvertent display of weapons to being charged with a felony.

The third (HB 155) would punish local officials with a fine for passing gun laws stricter than the state’s, already prohibited under state law.

Law enforcement officials opposed the open carry bill, saying it would make their jobs more dangerous.

And barring health care providers from asking safety questions about the presence of weapons in the household could endanger the lives of children and have a chilling effect on the doctor-patient relationship, pediatricians have argued.

Firearm injury is the leading cause of death for children and teens, said Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Weston.

“Adolescents know about firearms. Children know about firearms and they know where they are. This Republican Party is a party of less government and this is the party that brings us more government intrusion that encroaches into the privacy of a doctor’s office and the doctor-patient relationship,” she said.

But Sen. Alan Hays, a retired dentist, said “it’s none of my business what kind of weapons if any” patients have in their homes.

“If it’s medically necessary you may inquire but otherwise stay out of the private business of your patient,” said Hays, R-Umatilla. The bill passed by a 27-10 vote.

House approves two gun bills on Hammer’s birthday

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 by John Kennedy

A compromise between two big Republican backers — the Florida Medical Association and the National Rifle Association — cleared the GOP-dominated House Tuesday, setting new standards for doctors treating gun-owning patients and families.

The legislation (CS/HB 155) bars health care professionals from including in a patient’s health record information about gun ownership, unless it is relevant to medical care or the safety of others. An earlier version of the bill would have made doctors subject to 5 years in prison or $5,000 fines if they asked about a patient’s gun ownership.

The measure was approved 88-30.

“Owning guns is a fundamental right,” said Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Palatka. “It’s not to be infringed upon by your doctor.”

During debate, several lawmakers paid homage to longtime Affiliated Sportsmen of Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer, seated in the House gallery and celebrating a birthday Tuesday. She described the timing as “coincidence.”
(more…)

Crist okays ‘hands-off-my-gun-trust-fund’

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The money gun owners pay to the state to process their concealed weapons permit applications won’t be used for anything else no matter how bad Florida’s budget crisis gets, thanks to GOP lawmakers and Gov. Charlie Crist who signed the bill (SB 1158) into law today as promised.

The concealed weapons trust fund is now the fifth of the state’s 400-plus similar funds that are off limits to legislators who grabbed $500 million from them last year to fill a $2.3 billion budget gap. Like the concealed weapons trust fund, money for the trust funds comes from fees related to their specific purpose.

Of all the trust fund raids that the legislature attempted last year, the $6 million raid on the gun permit fund was the only one Crist singled out for a veto.

Stopping the gun permit fund raid was one of NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer‘s election-year priorities this session. The Senate passed out the measure on the second of session.

Some Democrats complained that the money from the trust fund should be available like others to help cover critical health and human service needs for Floridians.

Marion Hammer aims to kill driver handbook deal ‘black flag dead’

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The tussle between a gun shop-owning senator and the former president of the National Rifle Association is heating up over a controversial driver license handbook.

And the prospect looks bleaker every day for the vendor who prints the driver license handbook for free in return for the exclusive ability to advertise his “National Safety Commission” driver education courses.

First, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles chief Julie Jones canceled Ken Underwood’s controversial contract with the state effective at the end of the year.

Then an effort by a seemingly unwitting Sen. Carey Baker that would have given Underwood a leg up on a new contract went nowhere after a senate committee balked at the proposal, saying it appeared to be aimed at rescuing the sole source vendor.

Enter ultra-powerful NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer.

(more…)

UPDATE: Senator’s attempt to rescue driver license handbook contractor goes nowhere, again

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 by Dara Kam

Sen. Carey Baker’s effort to rescue the vendor who has printed the state’s driver license handbook for five years went nowhere today and seems to be destined for the cutting room floor.

Baker had originally proposed a bill (SB 2342) that would keep Ken Underwood in the running for a contract with the Department of Motor Vehicles and Highway Safety which he now prints for free in exchange for advertising his National Safety Commission driver’s ed schools.

Baker, R-Eustis, rewrote the bill to appease opponents, including Underwood’s competitors, but he asked the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee to skip a vote on it today, as he did last week, because it was clear the revisions didn’t pass critics’ muster.

DHSMV chief Julie Jones, who canceled the contract after the end of the year, told the committee that “We need to overcome the perception of an endorsement of one company.”

(more…)

Marion Hammer locked and loaded over drivers license handbook

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 by Dara Kam

NRA lobbyist and political heavyweight Marion Hammer’s targeting a bill that ostensibly has nothing to do with weapons except that the bill’s Senate sponsor Carey Baker owns a gun shop.

A controversy over the state’s drivers license handbook has the former president of the National Rifle Association loaded for bear.

Baker, R-Eustis, is backing a bill (SB 2342) that would force the state to extend a contentious agreement with Ken Underwood, the Ponte Vedra Beach owner of a driver ed school, in which he prints the drivers license handbook for the state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for free.

In return, Underwood gets to advertise his businesses in the handbook.

(more…)

What they’re saying about LeMieux and Crist

Friday, August 28th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Martinez

Martinez

U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez:“I congratulate George LeMieux for being appointed by the governor to fill the remainder of my term. George is bright, capable, and an accomplished
administrator. My staff and I stand ready to ensure a smooth transition.”

Rubio

Rubio

Former House Speaker Marco Rubio, who is running against Crist in the GOP primary to replace Martinez: “This is a disappointing pick for Florida. George LeMieux is a talented political operative and the governor’s best friend, but that doesn’t make him the right choice to represent Florida in the Senate. Governor Crist had a wealth of consistent and principled conservative candidates to choose from, all of whom would have been a reliable check and balance on the excesses of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda.”

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate: “Governor Crist was afforded a high responsibility with this appointment. Instead, he treated this process like a mockery, politicizing his selection by flying around the state at taxpayers’ expense, touring major media markets and drawing this selection out. Well respected Floridians with a wealth of elected service experience from Congressman Clay Shaw to Mayor John Delaney to various Hispanic leaders were in a position to hit the ground running if appointed, but that possibility is now nonexistent.”

jimgreerRepublican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer: “Once again, Charlie Crist has demonstrated his commitment to serving Floridians, by appointing George LeMieux who is well qualified, a dedicated public servant, conservative Republican and an excellent choice!”

Progress Florida executive director Mark Ferrulo: “It’s shocking. We wonder why Gov. Crist didn’t just appoint himself if he was going to pick his former chief of staff and campaign ‘maestro’. “The so-called ‘People’s Governor’ has made clear through this appointment that he places personal loyalty and his own political benefit above the interests of Floridians.”

McCollum

McCollum

Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican running to replace Crist as governor: “I congratulate George LeMieux on his appointment as Florida’s U.S. Senator. I have known George for a long time, both as a friend and as a former Deputy Attorney General, a capacity in which he served this office
well. I wish him the best in serving the people of Florida in the U.S. Senate.”

Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Hari Sevugan: “With Florida’s economy in shambles, Charlie Crist could have selected a Senator who would be able to hit the ground running in Washington to tackle the problems that face Floridians. In appointing a political crony as a placeholder until he can run for Senate himself, Charlie Crist is using the Governorship to advance his own political ambitions rather than advancing the lives of the Floridians he was elected to serve.”

Wexler

Wexler

U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, a Democrat from Boca Raton: “In short, George LeMieux will make an excellent Senator. I wish him great success and look forward to working with him in any way I can.”

Republican operative and political consultant Mac Stipanovich: “He was not the obvious choice.”

Hammer

Hammer

Marion Hammer, former NRA president who now lobbies for the same organization and the Unified Sportsmen of Florida: “The NRA and Unified Sportsmen of Florida are very pleased with Governor Crist’s appointment of George LeMieux as Florida’s new junior U.S. Senator. George is rated ‘A’ by the NRA and will be a strong supporter of the Second Amendment in the U.S. Senate. Gun owners can count on George LeMieux to fight to protect freedom and the Second Amendment.”

Florida Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff: “This is just one more example of the Republican leadership in Tallahassee putting cronyism and corruption above the people of our state. From Ray Sansom, to former lobbyist Bill McCollum, to George LeMieux, it is clear that we must stand together and pledge to end the Republican culture of cronyism and corruption in Tallahassee.”

Shaw

Shaw

Former U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw, who was a finalist on Crist’s list of possible Martinez replacements and for whom LeMieux once worked as an intern: “George is a very, very capable guy and I’m sure he’ll do a good job. He’s a quick study, he’s articulate, he’s very close to the governor. I think it’s a good choice.”

Bogdanoff

Bogdanoff

State Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, active with LeMieux in Broward County GOP politics since the mid-1990s: “He’s a smart guy, politically savvy, a hard worker. There’s nothing negative to say about George….He’s certainly smart enough to wade through the issues.”

Fordham

Fordham

Kirk Fordham, head of the Everglades Foundation: “George LeMieux is the right pick for Florida. He has a deep understanding of a wide range of regional issues that are unique to Florida. When it comes to protecting the people’s water supply and restoring the Everglades, we couldn’t ask for a better ally than we’ll have in Senator George LeMieux.”

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