DATE: March 18, 2010
TO: USF & NRA Members and Friends
FROM: Marion P. Hammer
USF Executive Director
NRA Past President
On Tuesday, March 16th SB-530 by Sen. Thad Altman (R) and HB-315 by Rep. Mike Horner (R) were each heard on their respective floors.
SB-530 and HB-315 are bills to STOP Florida adoption agencies from forcing potential adoptive parents to register their firearms with the agency as a condition of adoption. Further, it stops agencies from forcing these parents to follow gun control regulations regarding storage of firearms and ammunition created by the agency.
In the Senate, Sen. Charlie Justice (D) ran an amendment to add a prohibition against discrimination against Gay couples who want to adopt. After debate by several south Florida Democrats, Sen. Justice withdrew the amendment.
In the House, Rep. Scott Randolph (D) ran an amendment to add a prohibition against discrimination against Gay couples who want to adopt. He spoke in favor of his amendment then withdrew it.
Both bills were then scheduled for debate and a final vote on Thursday 3/18.
Today, Thursday 3/18, HB-315 came up on the House Floor and Passed by a vote of 112-0. It was then sent to the Senate where it was substituted for SB-530. Following debate on the Senate Floor it Passed by a vote of 38-2.
The only two votes against the bill were from Sen. Ted Deutch (D-Delray Beach) and Sen. Frederica Wilson (D-Miami Gardens)
The bill now goes to Governor Charlie Crist who says he strongly supports the bill and will sign it.
The following deserve your thanks for their roles in passing HB-315: Bill Sponsors Senator Thad Altman and Rep. Mike Horner.
Senate President Jeff Atwater and House Speaker Larry Cretul for their support in moving the bills early.
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FINALLY, YOUR EMAILS ON THESE BILLS HAVE BEEN OVERWHELMING AND CLEARLY MADE THE DIFFERENCE. WHEN THEY HEAR FROM YOU THEY KNOW YOU CARE -- AND THEY KNOW YOU VOTE !!! THANKS FOR YOUR HELP ON THIS ONE -- MORE TO FOLLOW.
BACKGROUND ON WHY THE BILL WAS NECESSARY
Adoption agencies in Florida are effectively profiling prospective adoptive parents who own firearms.
Agencies have been treating applicants for adoption, who chose to exercise the constitutional right to own a firearm, differently than non-firearms owning applicants.
As a condition of adoption, prospective parents who own firearms must agree to regulations and restriction imposed by the agency.
At least one agency requires prospective parents who own a firearm or firearms, to store the firearms and ammunition separately in locked cabinets – rendering the right of self-defense and defense of family virtually impossible.
Further, applicants who own firearms are required to register their firearms and ammunition with the agency.
The agency not only requires applicants to separately list the firearms and the ammunition they own on a form created by the agency, but also requires them to report to the agency exactly where the firearms and ammunition are stored.
These agencies have set themselves above the law and have ignored the statutes.
State law regulates the safe storage of firearms. F.S. 790.174, regulates how firearms must be stored and provides criminal penalties when firearms are accessed by minors due to a failure to store firearms safely.
State law prohibits agencies from attempting to regulate firearms. F.S. 790.33 prohibits any regulation of firearms except by the Legislature. The Legislature exclusively occupies the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition.
State law prohibits registration of firearms. F.S. 790.335 prohibits the compiling of and retention of lists of firearms owners and firearms. Forms required by some adoption agencies constitute a registry of firearms and firearms owners.
Under 790.335(4)(a), office managers and officials who are a party to the collection and storage of firearms registration documents commit a felony of the third degree.
Under 790.335(4)(c) these agencies or organizations, as licensed agencies acting on behalf of the government, who register firearms are subject to a fine of up to $5 million.
While some adoption agencies have attempted to claim their firearms regulations and forms were authorized or required by DCF, DCF actually repealed those regulations in April, 2008.
This bill makes it clear that adoption agencies may not condition adoption on a person's exercise of a constitutional right or a person's willingness to disclose private information concerning lawful firearms ownership – nor may adoption agencies impose restrictions on firearms ownership.
This bill codifies in law, that adoption agencies may not violate rights, profile or discriminate against firearms owners who seek to foster or adopt children.
Prospective parents seeking to adopt and make a home for a child are particularly vulnerable to abusive tactics of agency officials and personnel who appear to have a predisposition against firearms owners.
Forcing prospective parents to submit to requirements that usurp their legal rights and violate their privacy is nothing short of coercion. It must be stopped.