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Governor Bush Supports Gun Owners` Rights: Signs Two Important Bills Into Law

Thursday, May 13, 2004

FAIRFAX, VA -- After overwhelming support in the Florida Legislature and from firearm owners across the state, Governor Jeb Bush signed two important gun rights bills (SB 1156 and HB 155) into law today. Executive Director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida and former National Rifle Association (NRA) President Marion P. Hammer, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, NRA Chief Lobbyist Chris W. Cox, and Director of State & Local Affairs Randy Kozuch were present on behalf of the Association`s 4 million members to witness the signing of these two important laws.

SB 1156 ends damaging government lawsuits provided firearm ranges make good faith efforts to exercise sound management principles in their disposal of lead ammunition. Prior to its passage, range facilities had no shield or protection against environmental lawsuits devised to force ranges out-of-business by placing them at the mercy of the court, irrespective of whether they posed a risk to the environment.

During the bill`s signing ceremony, Wayne LaPierre said that, "Shooting ranges are owned and operated by lawful businessmen and women who work to improve the environment and avoid contamination. The law demonstrates that our commitment to protecting the environment is just as strong as our commitment to Second Amendment rights and America`s heritage of firearms ownership."

The new law, the first of its kind in the country, requires the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to provide copies of "Best Practices for Environmental Stewardship for Florida Shooting Ranges" to range managers statewide to keep their operations on a sound, environmentally friendly path. That blueprint for action was the culmination of nearly a decade of research and cooperative efforts initiated by the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the Wildlife Management Institute.

"Shooting ranges that implement these environmental management practices will not have to fear malicious lawsuits," added Chris W. Cox. "That is what a win-win strategy is all about - SB 1156 is an ideal remedy for firearms owners and the environment."

The driving force behind passage of SB 1156, Marion P. Hammer, praised the Florida Legislature and Governor Bush saying, "Once again, Florida is leading the way with model legislation that should be adopted by every state. Protecting shooting ranges is an essential element of protecting Second Amendment rights. And teaching range owners best management practices to eliminate environmental risk is just plain common sense."

The second bill signed by Gov. Bush, HB 155, stops the illegal compiling of computerized lists of law-abiding firearms owners and the guns they own, otherwise known as registration of law-abiding gun owners.

In violation of federal law, a few of Florida`s urban Sheriffs have been effectively building gun registration lists and data bases. This information has nothing to do with criminal investigations or crime guns, and is in clear violation of The Firearms Owner`s Protection Act (18 U.S. Code section 926).

"HB 155 will stop law-abiding firearm owners from being profiled and made suspects simply because they exercise their constitutional right," Hammer said. "This law is important because it stops gun registration, the worst form of gun control, that only aims to destroy freedom."

Passage of the bill was supported by the Florida Police Benevolent Association, the Florida Sheriff`s Association and the Florida Police Chiefs Association.

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The 133-year-old National Rifle Association is the nation`s oldest civil rights group, and advocates enforcement of existing laws to prosecute and punish violent criminals. The NRA is the leader in teaching gun safety and promoting marksmanship. The Association has approximately four million members across America.

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.