The most prominent gun rights activist in Tallahassee remains steadfast against in her opposition to background check legislation filed this year.
Marion Hammer, Florida lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, said the state needs to better enforce existing laws before imposing new burdens.
“It is already a federal felony for any private person to sell, trade, give, lend, rent or transfer a gun to a person you know or should have known is not legally allowed to own, purchase or possess a firearm,” Hammer told Florida Politics.
The comments came a day after activists with Moms Demand Action visited statehouses in Florida and other states calling for background checks.
“Just the show of force of 500 people going to Tallahassee to demand change, it’s democracy in action in its purest form,: said Natalia Santana-Pollard, of Florida Moms Demand Action.
She said the organization had meetings with 89 lawmakers, not counting numerous hallway meetings.
But gun rights activists continue to stay involved in the discussion as well. Hammer, one of the most influential lobbyists in the Capitol, closely watches every bit of legislation regarding gun rights.
She took a meeting with state Rep. Margaret Good about the Sarasota Democrat’s proposal to require private gun transfers to go through a private dealer to conduct background checks.
In practice, Hammer said such language would be “burdensome and unenforceable.”
“It is political eyewash,” she said.
Neither Good now Hammer say their meeting uncovered any common ground.
“Candidly, Rep. Good asked for our meeting but either could not or would not answer most of my questions about her bill,” Hammer said. “Now she tells reporters that I didn’t provide ‘any good ideas of how to move forward.’ There is nothing good about her bill.”
Santana-Pollard said it feels like progress to even be debating publicly about universal background checks in a fiercely pro-gun state like Florida. And she said Moms Demand Action and other groups would remain persistent.
“It’s hard to ignore these things are happening,” Santana-Pollard said. “People are more willing to stand up.”
She’s expressed strong support for Good’s bill and similar proposals from state Sen. Lauren Book, a Plantation Democrat.
But Hammer said further checks would result in more fees without impacting the number of shootings. Instead, state officials should look at stopping illegal gun transfers happening under existing state law.
“The current background check system is intended to stop criminals from buying guns,” she said. “It is even a crime — a federal felony — to submit false information on a background check form for the purpose of purchasing a firearm. It’s not being enforced.
“According to a 2012 report to the Department of Justice, more than 72,000 people were turned down on a gun purchase in 2010 because they didn’t pass the background check. Yet, only 44 of those cases were prosecuted. Why, when criminals are caught in act of lying on the form to illegally purchase a firearm are they not prosecuted?”
She suggests, based on past comments by Vice President Joe Biden, officials already lack time or human resources to prosecute those lying during existing checks.
“If they won’t prosecute criminals caught in the act of committing a crime,” Hammer said, “why are they rushing to restrict rights and criminalize lawful activity by an average law-abiding citizen with a law that is clearly unenforceable?”