The League of Women Voters of Florida has conducted more than 30 compliance checks at gun shops across the state.
Deirdre Macnab, Florida League’s current president, said her members are checking to see whether the shops have a sign displayed, which tells patrons it’s illegal to allow an unattended firearm to fall into the hands of someone under 16.
“Gun safety is an issue we’ve paid attention to and studied,” Macnab said Tuesday. “Florida continues to be center-stage in issues related to gun safety. Stand-your-ground has put us in the national spotlight. We’re exploring how we can make a positive contribution to insuring children are safe, and that there is responsible gun ownership.”
Macnab believes Florida has irresponsible gun owners.
“Whenever you have accidents, the short answer is yes we do,” she said.
The idea to conduct the checks, she said, came from Patti Brigham, who chairs the Florida League’s Gun Safety Committee.
Macnab referred all other questions to Brigham.
“She will have statistics. I don’t want to speak willy-nilly,” Macnab said. “Certainly we have incidents of children getting their hands on guns. I would think that anybody would term that as irresponsible gun ownership. Our interest is in promoting responsible gun ownership.”
Besides gun shops, Macnab said her members also visit prisons and public schools.
“We’re not gun shop police,” she said. “One thing we do as a volunteer organization – we monitor things. We felt it was very important to do the survey that covered the state.”
Marion Hammer, former NRA president and executive director of the Unified
Sportsmen of Florida, said it was “not only ludicrous, it is comical for anyone to claim the League of Women Voters is not anti-gun.”
“Show me one time, just one time that they have ever done anything to support protection of Second Amendment rights, self-defense rights of the rights of law abiding gun owners,” Hammer said Wednesday. “Show me one time that the Florida League of Women Voters has ever spent any of their money on programs to protect children from gun accidents. On the other hand, NRA has spent tens of millions of dollars on gun safety for children. NRA’s Eddie Eagle program, that I personally helped create in 1988, has been taught gun safety over 27 million children.”
Patti Brigham, who chairs the Gun Safety Committee of the League of Women Voters of Florida, has lobbied against “assault weapons” and against allowing hunters to use suppressors.
According to her Twitter account, Brigham has told her followers: “Say NO to allowing hunters to use silencers on their firearms in Florida,” and “Imagine hunters using silencers on their guns. Scary. Write FL Fish & Wildlife Comm. and tell them you are NOT in favor of proposal!”
She also tweeted “Get rid of assault weapons,” and included a link to a CNN story.
Brigham said less than half of the gun shops had the warning signs, which she said are required by state law.
She was not aware of any other League in any other state conducting compliance checks in gun shops.
“I know the League is studying the issue,” she said. “We don’t look at this as a partisan issue. Our focus is on gun safety, not gun control.”
When I asked her if she was anti-gun, she dodged the question.
“I can only tell you that the League is not anti-gun. We’re not anti-Second Amendment,” she said. “We are for responsible gun ownership.”
In my opinion, the League needs to understand that 99.9 percent of gun owners know that allowing an unattended firearm to fall into the hands of a child is a bad thing, but hey, thanks for checking on the signs.
If the League is serious about keeping unattended firearms out of the hands of kids, they should send a check to NRA’s Eddie Eagle Gun Safety Program, or the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Project ChildSafe.
Both of these programs have done far more to shield kids from the dangers posed by unattended firearms than any gun shop placard or compliance check.
Along those same lines, perhaps the League should change the focus of its “Guns Safety Committee” to a “Child Safety Committee.”
That way they could lobby and work toward preventing all of the causes of childhood injury and death, such as: abuse, neglect, drowning, vehicle accidents, poisoning, fires and accidents.
Please check back throughout the day as this story is updated.