NRA says it's waiting to see the bill before taking position on age limits for assault weapons

Marion Hammer, the NRA’s Florida lobbyist, says the group “cannot take a position.”
NRA Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer
NRA Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer
Published Feb. 20, 2018|Updated Feb. 20, 2018

The National Rifle Association, which has been one of the most powerful political forces in Tallahassee, said Tuesday it has not taken a position on the proposal to increase the age limit for purchase and possession of a semi-automatic assault rifle or applying the waiting period to those rifles.

“We cannot take a position on a piece of legislation that we have not seen,’’ said Marion Hammer, the NRA’s Florida lobbyist on Tuesday. “We have not seen a draft. We have not been told officially and, until we know, we cannot take a position.”

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The ideas are expected to be unveiled in legislation released on Thursday by the House and Senate in response to the Parkland shooting tragedy.

The proposals were advanced by Sen. Bill Galvano in a six-point plan he outlined for the Times/Herald on Monday. In addition to increasing the age from 18 to 21 for purchase and possession of semi-automatic firearms, the proposal would extend the waiting period for all gun purchases to all semi-automatic weapons and ban bump stocks -- the devices used to turn a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic one.

Galvano’s approach, much of which is expected to be adopted by the House and supported by Gov. Rick Scott, also focuses on gun background checks, expands school safety and mental health counseling and provides money to help the Broward County school district replace Building 12, where the killings occurred.

One of the proposals, a measure to are trained teachers with concealed weapons and preparing them to confront an active shooter, is supported by the National Rifle Association as part of its National School Shield program. Hammer said she could not comment on whether she supports that measure or not.

Also opposing the increase in the age limit and extended waiting periods is Florida Carry, another gun-rights group independent from the NRA. That idea is a “non-starter” and would likely draw a lawsuit if it passed, said Eric Friday, general counsel for the group.

“If we’re going to have a discussion about what would have prevented this situation, we need to look objectively at all of the failures that occurred before we look at placing more restrictions on law-abiding citizens,” he said.

Friday said Tuesday that he also is not prepared to support a provision that would allows families and relatives of people with mental illness to ask a judge for a “gun violence restraining order” to take away their weapon if they are deemed dangerous.“We can’t support it until we see it has sufficient protections,″ he said.