There’s a small group of gun-control activists in Florida, who in the space of just several months, have done more to advance the cause of reducing gun violence than all the national, gun-control organizations put together. I am referring to an advocacy group in Florida that has a website but also something much more important than a web presence – a public partnership with another advocacy group, Americans for Gun Safety Now, (which has both a website and a Facebook page) representing not just a bunch of tree-hugging, anti-gun liberals, but a cross-section of major Republican Party donors and other conservative-minded folks.
Let’s get serious, okay? Remember the last time that Jack Nicklaus, the Jack Nicklaus, attached his name to anything remotely connected to liberal politics at all? If you do, then it wasn’t this Jack Nicklaus who publicly supported Trump in 2016 and campaigned for Romney in 2012. The AGSN group was founded by a major Republican supporter, Al Hoffman, who was not only the Ambassador to Portugal, but also was the former RNC Finance Chair. In other words, when Al picks up the phone and contacts any Republican anywhere in the United States – they listen, okay?
The alliance between these two groups is the most momentous event in the entire history of gun-control advocacy because what has otherwise characterized the debate between Gun-control Nation and Gun-nut Nation is that the latter group can always depend on GOP politicians and GOP-leaning citizens to support their point of view. There’s a reason why our friends in Fairfax, VA are major sponsors of the CPAC meeting every year but don’t show up at the annual meeting of the ADA.
What both created and brought these strange bedfellows together was, of course, the massacre at Parkland, which happens to be a community largely built by Al Hoffman’s real estate development company, but he’s hardly the only big bucks behind the AFGSN group. I noticed that the lineup includes Norman Braman, who just happens to own more than 20 car dealerships in Florida and was a major backer of Marco Rubio’s Presidential bid in 2016. Here’s the bottom line: You don’t get a couple of heavyweights like Al Hoffman and Norm Braman to come out for a liberal issue like gun control every day of the week, or any day of the week, for that matter.
This unlikely collaboration revolves around an unlikely issue, an attempt to put a state constitutional amendment banning assault rifles before Florida voters in 2020, which just happens to be the next time these same voters will be pulling a lever for either the 45th or 46th President of the United States. Until Parkland, Florida was always considered the ‘gunshine state,’ with a strong and organized pro-gun movement run by Granny Marion Hammer, former President and now state lobbyist for the NRA. She recently sued a Miami resident, Brian Fitzgerald, for cyberstalking, because he sent her several nasty and profane emails after Parkland, a lawsuit which is more embarrassing than real. If our NRA friends think that the old lady is a match for Hoffman, Braman and Nicklaus, they better think again.
When all is said and done, Gun-nut Nation can scream and yell all they want about how gun-control laws rob gun owners of their civil rights, their Constitutional rights, whatever right they want to invent to hold onto their guns. But the bottom line is that when Marion Hammer and other gun-nut zealots refer to advocates for gun control as ‘traitors,’ it’s a strategy that the NRA needs to carefully consider before running it up the flagpole against guys like Braman, Hoffman, et. al. And if Republican stalwarts in Florida now believe that gun violence needs to be contained, let’s not forget for one moment that these folks have plenty of friends in other states where mass shootings have occurred….