The National Rifle Association is calling on the governor to abolish the Southwest Florida Water Management District once and for all.
In a statement released Tuesday, NRA past president and lobbyist Marion Hammer demanded Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and the Florida Legislature take action to get rid of the SWFWMD. Hammer also requested an investigation into the state agency for “criminal conduct” and called on Bondi to prosecute those responsible for “unlawful actions.”
Hammer’s call to action revolves around a legal battle in a 2000 case between the SWFWMD and the Skyway Trap and Skeet Club, a gun club in Pinellas County. The lawsuit between the two parties alleges the gun club had polluted the nearby Sawgrass Lake Park with bullets that missed their targets.
The SWFWMD said the gun club was causing danger to the public by not cleaning up lead bullets which have accumulated on club grounds for over 70 years. The district says the gun range needs to clean up the lead, but a law passed in 2004 under Gov. Jeb Bush prohibits state agencies from suing gun clubs.
Despite that, the water management district has filed suit against the gun club, saying the gun club is causing harm to the health and safety of the public. The water district is suing the gun club because it didn't build a shot barrier as it was supposed to build and did not clean up its own site per the 2004 agreement.
Hammer says the SWFWMD is moving forward with the suit in an “open, knowing and intentional violation” of the 2004 law which forbids the state from suing gun clubs.
“This rogue state agency has violated the legally executed agreement that was crafted to bring these lawsuits to a halt,” she said. “Further, the law crafted by Governor Bush's staff, under his direction, was intended to assure that the reckless and malicious actions of this state agency and their blatant attempt to destroy the Skyway Trap and Skeet Club could never again occur.”
Hammer continues that the state agency is attempting to infringe on Second Amendment rights by trying to shut down the gun club, calling the district out for “harassing” the small trap club, which has been in operation since 1945.
She describes the gun club as a way to serve the Second Amendment community of trap and skeet shooters, acting as an Olympic training center for young, would-be Olympians.
The SWFWMD, says Hammer, is simply trying to maliciously bring down the small business.
“SWFWMD is a malignant state agency that uses unlimited tax dollars in what I can only call an evil attempt to steal private property and destroy a small private business,” she explained.
According to Hammer, the NRA sent the request to the governor's staff, attorney general's staff and House speaker's & Senate president's offices at 7:15 a.m.
In January, the Skyway gun club said he would grant the Skyway's motion to stay legal proceedings as long as it agreed to stop shooting over the berm. Skyway ultimately chose to accept the stay and stop shooting over the berm.
This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.