DATE: May 6, 2014
TO: USF & NRA Members and Friends
FROM: Marion P. Hammer
USF Executive Director
NRA Past President
Former Governor Lawton Chiles was fond of using the old southern saying, "a cut dog barks," when people were protesting too much.
I used that old saying yesterday. Gary Fineout, an AP reporter, tweeted that in our newsletter alert to members, I said the Florida Sheriffs Association had declared war on the Second Amendment.
Fineout then said, my statement prompted the Florida Sheriffs Association president "to all but call Hammer a liar at an event at the sheriffs association HQ."
Fineout again tweeted, that the sheriffs association president said on Marion Hammer's comments, "I'm outraged. I'm not mad. I'm outraged that she would say so, because it's absolutely not true."
Further, Fineout tweeted, the sheriffs association president said "that one reason the bill died was Marion Hammer did not want to cooperate and that she wanted a vague bill."
I responded to Fineout on those comments by saying "a cut dog barks."
For the record, the Florida Sheriffs Association president could not have possibly known what Marion Hammer wanted or did not want. He never bothered to ask me. He never had the courtesy to talk to me. He never had the courtesy to tell me that the Florida Sheriffs Association was going to try to either gut or kill the NRA supported bills.
They sent their contract lobbyist to try to get me to sacrifice your Second Amendment rights and your right of self-defense for the convenience of law enforcement. I refused.
What happened after that was an orchestrated effort to give a false impression of what the bill provided.
HB-209 passed the House and we were trying to pass it in the Senate. It would have allowed citizens to carry their firearms in their vehicles or on their persons EXCLUSIVELY when they were in the act of evacuating during the mandatory evacuation. Nothing more. Claims to the contrary are false.
Nothing in the bill would allow a person to "walk around with concealed guns -- even if they do not have concealed weapons permits -- during riots or natural disasters."
Nothing would allow a person to put a gun in their pocket and run to a riot.
Nothing would allow a person to take a side trip to Disneyland with guns in their pockets while evacuating.
Nothing would allow a person to go shopping at a mall and walk around for days with hidden guns. Those statements were totally false.
The bill says a person who may lawfully possess a firearm may carry a concealed firearm on or about his person "while in the act of evacuating during a mandatory evacuation order declared by the Governor pursuant to chapter 252 or declared by a local authority pursuant to chapter 870."
Please look on lines 31-34. Click HERE to read it yourself.
Further, claims that you can already carry your firearms with you in your vehicle as long as they are securely encased are also deliberately misleading.
Under chapter 870, the minute a state of emergency is declared by a local official, a person cannot possess a firearm outside their home or off their own property because people are automatically prohibited from possessing a firearm in a public place.
That means you can't have a firearm in your vehicle because once you leave your property, the sidewalks, parking lots, roads and highways are public places. A firearm anywhere in your vehicle is in your constructive possession.
That also means if you live in an apartment complex or condo, you can't leave your apartment or condo with a firearm to get to your vehicle.
Anywhere on your person, or being carried, is in your manual possession. Common areas of apartment complexes are public places and are not a part of your home. (Florida courts have ruled that common areas, including halls, are public places and are not part of your home.)
Section 870.044 of Florida law says that once an emergency is declared, a person is automatically prohibited from "(3) The intentional possession in a public place of a firearm by any person, except a duly authorized law enforcement official or person in military service acting in the official performance of her or his duty." Read it HERE
With the truth in mind, let's look at quotes from sheriffs:
One called the bill "insane." Is it insane for people to take their possessions, including their firearms, with them during a mandatory evacuation? They have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms and a constitutional right of self-defense. Further, leaving firearms behind where they can be stolen by looters or destroyed in a disaster is irresponsible.
The same sheriff said, "Trying to keep the peace during a stressful and chaotic emergency evacuation would likely be more difficult if more people were running around with guns, and besides, as written, the proposed law would have been difficult to enforce."
Again, if you actually read the bill, you will see that people would not be allowed to be "running around with guns" -- they would have to be in the act of evacuating.
Over and over and over in committee hearings, bill sponsors made it perfectly clear that "in the act of evacuating" means just that. It means when you leave your home or dwelling with your spouse, kids, dogs, photo albums and personal possessions you are clearly evacuating. And when you arrive at your destination, you are no longer evacuating. That is not vague and it is not hard to understand.
When anyone says we would not "cooperate" with the Florida Sheriffs Association, it is only partially true. We refused to give up or diminish your Second Amendment rights to make them happy. We don't view that as refusing to cooperate. We view that as standing strong to protect your Second Amendment rights against those who put their convenience above the Constitution.
As members of the NRA and USF you have a right to know what happened. Our newsletters tell you what happened. The fact that they fall into the hands our opponents on Second Amendment issues, is beyond our control. However, they are not secret and are not intended to be secret. We will continue to keep you informed.