By James Call
Tallahassee, Florida –-(Ammoland.com)- Marion P. Hammer, 73, has been the National Rifle Association’s lobbyist in Tallahassee for more than 30 years.
She was the NRA’s president from 1995 to 1998, is a member of the NRA’s Executive Council and has been executive director of the Unified Sportsman of Florida, an affiliate of the NRA, since 1978.
Hammer was inducted into the Florida Women's Hall of Fame in 2005. That same year, she successfully lobbied for passage of the “stand your ground” law, calling the proposal the NRA’s top priority of the year. Since then, 24 other states have joined Florida in permitting the use of deadly force when a person thinks their life is threatened.
After stand your ground, Hammer embarked on a three-year push for a “bring your gun to work” bill. Passed by the Legislature and signed by then-governor Charlie Crist in 2008, the law prevents employers from firing workers who have a firearm in their personal vehicle while parked on company property.
How did you become a lobbyist on behalf of gun rights?
I grew up on a farm. I was given my first rifle when I was 6 years old. Since then, I have always owned firearms. When Congress began working on the 1968 Gun Control Act, I became angry that law-abiding gun owners were going to lose part of our rights because of the criminal acts of others. I started a grassroots effort to fight it. We lost that fight. I vowed to keep that from ever happening again. I began lobbying professionally, in Florida, on Second Amendment issues in 1978.
Because, I believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights — all of it; I believe if Second Amendment rights are lost, we will no longer be free. Freedom is being able to think, act and possess property based on your own determinations and will. The only thing that insures freedoms is the ability to protect that freedom. One need only look to Cuba to understand. When Castro took control, he took guns away from average citizens. Once they were disarmed, he took their money, their property and their freedom. They had no way to stop it. I am a true believer.
Do you think that “the people” can remain “sovereign” if a democratically elected government imposes strict regulations on gun ownerships?
No. Second Amendment rights are the means with which the people retain sovereignty. Give up your power to remain free and you are no longer free. Just because a government was “democratically” elected does not mean it is a righteous government or that the electorate got the government they thought they were electing.
Where does the government’s authority to regulate guns stop?
With the Second Amendment; the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms without infringement. Encroaching upon those rights because of the heinous acts of an individual or a few individuals is prohibited by the Constitution.
What was the last book you read?
The Frontiersman by Allan Eckert (an account of efforts to open the Northwest Territory to settlement in the years 1755 to 1836).
Who do you admire?
Actually there are two people whom I have known, respected and admired for many years — even though we don’t always agree. They are Lynn Cobb (special counsel to the Speaker of the House) and Kathy Mears (chief of staff for Speaker Will Weatherford). They are true icons in the legislative arena. They know their stuff. They serve with integrity and honor and treat people with dignity and respect.
The responses in this interview were condensed for length and clarity. Reporter James Call can be reached at [email protected]