This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, February 22, 2017:
Since the late 1970s, Marion Hammer has lobbied for the NRA in Florida, galvanizing gun owners into a fearsome force favoring the Second Amendment. The media claims she engineered the change from “may issue” to “shall issue” for obtaining concealed carry permits to the point where today one in every 14 Floridians has one. It claims she’s also responsible for passage of the “stand your ground” law that has served as a model for the majority of other states that has adopted it.
She has also garnered the opprobrium of anti-gunners like Tom Diaz, who was forced to give her some credit in his book, The Last Gun: How Changes in the Gun Industry Are Killing Americans and What It Will Take to Stop It. Wrote Diaz:
Throughout her career, Hammer has been portrayed as something of a cross between a chain-smoking bulldog and a steely-eyed, uncompromising drill sergeant….
For decades, this “good ol’ boy in a skirt” has lashed Florida’s legislators – Democrat and Republican, urban and rural alike – into impotent compliance while she rams the most bizarre and deadly “gun rights” laws imaginable through the halls of Florida’s capitol in Tallahassee.
But without the backing of thousands of gun owners who learned that their rights were being threatened, and their subsequent political action and pressure on their state legislators, she wouldn’t even rate a footnote in Florida’s history.
The strategy she employed is simplicity itself. David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center, explained it:
[This] recognition of an individual right to bear arms was not imposed from the top down by five [Supreme Court] justices, but developed from the bottom up, through decades of advocacy….
The story is not unique to the NRA and the Second Amendment. Often, the key actors … are “we the people,” acting in associations of like-minded citizens, and engaged in advocacy far beyond the federal courts.
As Learned Hand, a legendary federal judge, said: “Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women. When it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it … While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.”
It was a relatively small number of people “acting in associations of like-minded citizens … engaged in advocacy” that made, and is still making, history in Florida.
To wit: dozens of gun-related bills are being filed ahead of next month’s 60-day legislative session, most of them favoring the Second Amendment and expanding on freedoms already gained in past sessions. Bills filed by Republicans would
– Allow licensed handgun owners to carry their sidearms openly;
– Allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry in non-secure areas of airports;
– Allow those permit holders to carry at any state legislative or committee meeting;
– Allow them to carry on state university campuses;
– Allow them to carry at county and municipal government meetings;
– Allow them to carry at career centers;
– Allow members of the state Cabinet to carry anywhere not prohibited by federal law; and
– Expand the state’s present “stand your ground” law.
On the other hand, bills filed by the outnumbered Democrats would
– Ban semi-automatic rifles and their detachable magazines;
– Ban guns of any kind at performance art centers and theatres; and
– Tighten the existing law requiring guns in homes occupied by minors to be stored in locked boxes, or rendered inoperable with trigger locks.
What’s surprising to most observers unaware of Hammer’s strategy in organizing her supporters is that this bevy of bills being filed followed the nation’s deadliest mass shooting last June in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub. Knee-jerk reaction would have expected anti-gun bills, but Hammer’s strategy made certain that never happened:
I’ve never considered myself a persuader. I view myself more as an educator. When I educate with facts and common sense and reason, then [opponents] are going to be with us.
Education and knowing the truth [are] a powerful thing.
And she is persistent almost to the point of being annoying. If a bill is presented, and it fails to pass despite her efforts and those of her supporters, it’s presented again in the next session. Said Hammer:
Eventually, everything passes. If it’s important enough to start, it’s important enough to finish. That’s why when folks keep asking “What if these bills don’t pass?” well, they’ll be back. If we file a bill, it will be back and back and back until it passes.
As long as there are people who want to deny your rights, somebody is going to have to be out there fighting to protect them.
The strategy comes right out of the Founding Father’s playbook, as author William Norman Grigg pointed out in his 2001 book, Global Gun Grab: “educating the citizenry in sound principles of government; warning the public about the existence of an organized covert threat to [their] liberties and free institutions; and mobilizing patriots in an organized, principle-centered effort to defeat the enemies of freedom.”
That’s why, expectations to the contrary, those bills represent expansions of freedoms under the Second Amendment and not restrictions. It all started with a feisty, 4-foot eleven dynamo who knew what had to be done, and continues to do it today.
Orlando Sentinel: Florida looks to expand gun rights in wake of Pulse shooting
TheTruthAboutGuns.com: 2017 Florida Gun Bills – Good and Bad – Revealed
Professor David Cole: “Gunshine State” redefined our notion of right to bear arms
SunshineStateNews.com: Marion Hammer Talks Florida’s Biggest Gun Fights