Marion Hammer: Leon County pressuring gun dealers


Lee’s note: This Op/Ed submission just arrived from USF Executive Director Marion Hammer. It is a companion piece to the gun show story also published today.

County Wants Gun Dealers to Help Implement Gun Control

by Marion P. Hammer

The Leon County Board of Commissioners is trying to pressure gun dealers into helping them implement a proposed gun control ordinance!

Recently, Commissioners were telling us there wasn’t any action going on with regard to a proposed “Gun Show Loophole” ordinance.  In fact, some even claimed “there is no proposed ordinance at all.”  Some even suggested they simply wanted to receive our comments for discussion at the January Commission meeting.

Turns out, that isn’t the full story.  What they’re really up to is trying to pressure gun dealers into implementing their gun control ordinance for them.

USF Executive Director Marion P. Hammer. Photo AP Archive, 2006

USF Executive Director Marion P. Hammer. Photo AP Archive, 2006

Under the subject heading, “Proposed ordinance requiring background checks for firearm purchases,”  the County Attorney’s office, on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners, sent a letter to Federal Firearm Licensees “asking” for their assistance in implementing an ordinance.

Under federal law, all licensed dealers are required to conduct background checks through the national NICS database, on purchases of all firearms they sell.  Collectors and private citizens are expressly exempt under Federal law and county officials know that.

County officials also know that collectors and private citizens are prohibited by federal law from accessing the NICS database to perform background checks on private gun sales on their own.

So, in order to implement their gun control scheme, they need licensed dealers to assist them by allowing all private sales to go through dealers so that background checks can be performed — not only on buyers, but on sellers as well.

The letter to gun dealers on behalf of the Leon County Board of County Commissioners asked:

“In order to facilitate compliance with the potential ordinance, Leon County is seeking participation from FFL dealers to act as third party intermediary to request background checks on behalf of private sellers.  As such, the private seller would first sign the firearm over into the inventory of a licensed dealer.  The dealer would then conduct the background check.  If the buyer is not approved, the dealer must also perform a background check on the seller before returning the gun.  If the seller is not approved, the dealer takes control of the weapon.”

That is a clear attempt to pressure licensed dealers into helping county officials implement gun control.

Simply put, they want the gun dealer where you shop — who is your neighbor, whose kids go to school with your kids, whose family goes to church with your family — to sell you out for a gun control ordinance that will do nothing to stop crime or criminals.

Dealers are right to feel pressured.  Why, because the county can’t implement this gun ordinance without the participation of dealers.

Since 1998, when these country ordinances were authorized in Florida, only a handful of counties rushed to adopt them and they were mostly urban counties like Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Orange.  However, seeing the ineffectiveness of such ordinances, four counties have since repealed their ordinances.

With all the issues facing our county, and all funding needs of our county, the Board of County Commissioners is proceeding with investigating a useless gun control ordinance and apparently willing to spend over $100,000 of your tax dollars for enforcement.

Additionally, if they pursue this ordinance and it shuts down gun shows in Leon County, the revenue the county earns from rental of the fairgrounds, food vendors, motels, restaurants, gasoline and sales tax on everything will disappear. When they kill that revenue stream and trample yet another of our rights for an ordinance that is a proven failure in other counties, how will they explain that when they come around to raising your taxes again?

They could stop this folly at their next meeting by revisiting the issue and taking it off the table completely. Or they can continue this assault on your rights.

Marion P. Hammer is a past president of the National Rifle Association and Executive Director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


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