The National Rifle Association announced it will boost the grades of lawmakers who voted against holding a special session to review Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.
That’s especially important to lawmakers who supported a school safety bill passed after the Parkland shooting and took a hit to their legislative scorecards.
“The anti-Second Amendment, Democrat politicians who demanded that the Legislature vote on calling a Special Session to repeal Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law either unwittingly or intentionally provided a great service to Republican incumbent Legislators,” said Marion Hammer, the NRA’s top lobbyist in Tallahassee.
A number of lawmakers who previously enjoyed ‘A’ ratings from the NRA saw scores plummet after supporting a school safety package in the legislature following a Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.
Among other things, the bill increased the legal age for purchasing a weapon like that used in the shooting to 21, and it banned the sale of bump stocks, devices that can convert semi-automatic weapons to operate like automatic military weapons.
Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law in March and the NRA immediately filed a lawsuit against the state.
“Republican incumbents who previously had NRA ratings of ‘A’ or ‘A+’ and voted in favor of SB 7026, the so-called “school safety” bill that contained gun control provisions, had their ratings dropped to a ‘C,’” Hammer said.
But in the wake of another shooting, this one resulting in the death of Markeis McGlockton in July, Democrats called for a special session on the application of the Stand Your Ground law. But the call failed along largely partisan lines.
The self-defense law, a major legislative achievement of NRA lobbying in Florida dating back to 2005, was originally cited when Sheriff Bob Gualtieri chose not to immediately arrest Michael Drejka, McGlockton’s killer.
The State Attorney’s Office last week announced it would seek charges against Drejka and he was arrested.
Ironically, Hammer was on the same side as Democrats calling for the arrest, arguing the Stand Your Ground language was misapplied in the McGlockton death, she told Politico.
But the NRA said supporting a special session to review Stand Your Ground should be viewed effectively as a vote to repeal the law and undercut the Castle Doctrine, another part of Florida’s law related to self-defense.
Now, lawmakers stinging from the Parkland vote but who voted against holding a special session will see their NRA grade increased as high as a ‘B-,’ Hammer said.
“As voters are heading to the polls in the Primary, they can be confident in the knowledge that they know exactly where their elected officials stand on the important constitutional right of self-defense. Primary grades were changed immediately,” Hammer said.
“When the grades have been posted for the General Election, incumbents will have been re-graded to reflect the vote on the call for a Special Session.”