When I was a kid, my mother and several of her friends got together and formed a chapter of the League of Women Voters. Basically they sat around in each other’s kitchens and drank coffee, gossiped about various friends and I suppose every once in a while took part in some kind of educational or political event. Come to think about it, my mother’s participation in the League was very funny, because we lived in Washington, D.C., this was the 1950’s, and neither my mother nor any of her friends could vote. But they could drink coffee, that’s for sure.
I was reminded of this childhood memory when I received the weekly email from the NRA-ILA linking to the latest stories on their political blog, and the headline was a rant from Granny Marion Hammer, former NRA President and now NRA lobbyist in Florida, whose claims to fame among other things is one of the earliest Stand Your Ground laws, as well as spearheading the growth of concealed-carry laws in Florida and throughout the United States.
It seems that Granny Hammer has discovered that the Florida League of Women Voters (LWV) has become the state’s “newest gun ban organization.” And worse yet, one of the LWV officers, Patti Brigham, has been “lobbying’ legislators for more gun control, even though she isn’t officially registered as a lobbyist.”
Now Granny Hammer knows something about being a lobbyist. She’s not only paid nearly $200,000 a year by the NRA for her lobbying efforts; she also picks up another hundred grand to lobby for a statewide sportsmen’s organization. Granny is so effective that in 2005 she was inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame, and this honor wasn’t because she won the annual tamale-eating contest in Boca Raton, okay?
One of the reasons she’s so good is because what she says sounds very persuasive, even if it doesn’t quite align with the truth. In her comment about the LWV’s efforts to “ban the gun rights of Florida’s law-abiding gun owners,” she states that Patti Brigham isn’t a registered lobbyist but “she shows up in committee to support gun control and oppose Second Amendment rights over and over again.”
You don’t have to be a registered or unregistered lobbyist to appear at a public hearing and make a statement or walk into a legislator’s office and speaks to the legislator one-on-one. If you have an interest in a particular piece of legislation, under our current system of government which I think is still a democracy, this interest can be expressed by showing up and saying whatever you choose to say.
Patti Brigham’s efforts to promote sensible gun restrictions in Florida is, in fact, directly connected to her work for the LWV, because following the Pulse massacre, the LWV decided to form a coalition to prevent gun violence, and they make absolutely no secret about the fact that this coalition is sponsored by the LWV. Marion Hammer’s rant, of course, is an attempt to create the impression that this effort, like all efforts to reduce gun violence, is some kind of secret, half-hidden plot to advance the gun-control agenda which only a diligent protector of 2nd-Amendment rights like Hammer is able to detect and thwart.
But in addition to patting herself on the back for nothing, Hammer and the NRA are trying to promote their own agenda as well, an agenda which consists of preventing what the Florida LWV chapter is doing from spreading to other states. Because the LWV isn’t a bunch of ladies who just sit around drinking coffee like my mother and her friends did in the good old days. It’s a national organization that has been in existence for nearly a century, it certainly has more credibility than Granny Hammer or any other toady of the NRA, and when its members appear in public forums, the public listens to what they have to say.