Bill awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s signature has gun rights activists sharply divided

by ROCHELLE KOFF, The Miami Herald  |  published on June 24, 2013

Hammer
TALLAHASSEE — The former president of the National Rifle Association and Florida’s most powerful gun rights lobbyist is urging Gov. Rick Scott to sign a bill restricting gun purchases.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Marion Hammer, the NRA’s longtime Florida lobbyist and founder of the United Sportsmen of Florida, emailed about 200,000 gun rights supporters this week asking them to show support for HB 1355, which would prevent some mentally ill people from buying guns.

Though it passed the Legislature with just one no vote, the bill has sharply divided gun rights activists. Scott, who has until July 2 to sign or veto the measure, has already received more than 17,000 emails and nearly 3,000 phone calls in opposition.

The source of much of the opposition, Hammer says, is out-of-state gun rights groups who are presenting “patently false” information.

“Gun owners are being deceived by reckless people who are sending out email blasts attacking the bill as being anti-Second Amendment,” Hammer wrote.

The premise of the bill is relatively simple. It would extend a ban on purchasing firearms to people who voluntarily seek mental health treatment after being examined under Florida’s Baker Act statutes. The Baker Act applies to people deemed a danger to themselves or others.

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