The Nation Rifle Association is pushing legislation to ban adoption agencies from asking potential parents if they have guns and ammunition in the home.
NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer said adoption agencies are violating gun owners' rights by asking about firearms in an adoption form. She said any request about gun ownership from an agency connected with government is tantamount to establishing a gun registry.
"Gun registration is illegal in Florida," Hammer said. "An adoption agency has no right to subvert the privacy rights of gun owners."
The issue flared up in Brevard County where a gun-owning couple took umbrage at a request from the Children's Home Society that they disclose if they had firearms before adopting a child.
The couple complained to a lawyer, who called Hammer. She said it would be easier to change the law than to sue.
A spokeswoman for the Children's Home Society, Liz Bruner, said the agency asks about guns because it was required to by the state Department of Children and Families.
"If they don't want us to ask about it, we won't," Bruner said. "We're trying to get an updated form to use, but there's a gray area over what (form) we can use."
Bruner said that because the state child-welfare system is privatized, Children's Home Society is a subcontractor for a subcontractor and, therefore, communication with the state agency can be challenging.
DCF officials say they're not sure about what form the society is using and plan to make sure that all subcontractors are using the same forms. Some of the newer adoption forms don't ask prospective parents if they own guns.
Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, said his bill will make it clear that asking about guns isn't allowed.
If the gun bill is as successful as others pushed by the NRA in the Legislature, it'll likely pass.
Some longtime NRA opponents, like Democratic Sen. Nan Rich, said she didn't like the idea of banning an agency from simply asking about gun ownership.
"Parents frequently ask if other parents have guns in the home before their kids play there, so why can't an adoption agency just ask?" Rich said.
Marc Caputo can be reached at mcaputo@MiamiHerald.com.