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Politics

NRA to Rick Scott: Abolish Southwest Florida Water Management District for Second Amendment Violations

February 9, 2016 - 9:30am
Marion Hammer
Marion Hammer

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.

 

 

 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.

Comments

What I Know......... Skyway Trap & Skeet Club was started in 1945 and incorporated in 1947. Skyway owned the property on which it deposited spent lead (from shotgun shells). Sawgrass Lake Park – The project began in 1972 to provide flood protection to the city of Pinellas Park. A water-control structure was built to facilitate drainage canal (road runoff, etc.) improvements and to maintain desirable water level fluctuations in Sawgrass Lake and the surrounding swamp. In a 1975 lawsuit SWFWMD sued Skyway Trap & Skeet Club and took Skyway’s land through eminent domain, resulting in the court granting Skyway a “perpetual right and easement to utilize the property... as a drop zone or fallout zone for expanded shotgun ammunition.” In 2000 SWFWMD sued Skyway Trap & Skeet, alleging the gun club had polluted Sawgrass Lake with lead shot. SWFWMD sued Skyway to permanently prevent any shooting at Skyway, and to eliminate Skyway’s easement rights. The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice. Per the 2004 settlement agreement, that Skyway was forced to sign, SWFWMD was required to construct an earthen berm, of sufficient height, between Skyway and SWFWMD property. • SWFWMD improperly constructed the berm, resulting in the death of at least one worker. • SWFWMD failed to construct the berm at sufficient height. • SWFWMD failed to engineer the berm to support any kind of “shot barrier” which would compensate for the insufficient height. After making it impossible and unsafe for Skyway Trap & Skeet Club to install a “shot barrier” SWFWMD filed a lawsuit in 2015 against Skyway to permanently and completely prevent Skyway’s members and guests from shooting whatsoever. Skyway Trap & Skeet Club did offer to clean up all of the lead shot. This is something that gun clubs do periodically. Gun clubs make a considerable amount of money in reclaiming shot because it is cleaned and re-sold. However, SWFWMD refused to allow Skyway Trap & Skeet access to the property to “clean up the lead shot”. In 2001, Skyway changed from using lead shot to steel shot only (not considered a contaminant) and also changed to bio-degradable clay targets in good faith. Skyway implemented the Department of Environmental Protection Best Management Practices (BMP) for shooting ranges and has strictly adhered to these guidelines since implementation. SWFWMD presents Sawgrass Lake Park as a pristine wildlife habitat. Sawgrass Lake Park is, in fact, a “lake and swamp system designed to provide natural water treatment to enhance the quality of water draining to Tampa Bay.” Per the SWFWMD website description. Where does the water come from that fills Sawgrass Lake? Pinellas Park drainage ditches into which gutters direct road runoff - carrying everything that can and does leak/spill onto the roads/ground - oil, transmission fluid, gasoline, antifreeze, brake fluid, brake dust (lead), pesticides, herbicides, household cleaners and any number of other chemicals. Sawgrass Lake Park was, for decades, a dumping ground for used mattresses, appliances, vehicles and trash. Sawgrass Lake contains anything but clean water! SWFWMD is notorious for this type of behavior – absolutely a bully and above the law. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of stories very similar to this one. The reason, I believe, that Marion Hammer, et al. are calling for SWFWMD to be defunded is to get their attention and make SWFWMD understand that they cannot continue to conduct business in this manner. Laws are in place that are not being followed. Agreements are in place that are not being followed by SWFWMD, therefore making it impossible for Skyway to do what they were forced to agree to. Whether or not you are a 2nd Amendment supporter is neither here nor there. SWFWMD has the power to take an entire neighborhood, via eminent domain, for a “very important project that must be done to better the community.” Only to sit on the property for several years then decide the project isn’t so important and sell the property to a developer......... with no repercussions. Would you like to be on the receiving end of that?

Seems you don't know much . . . . . as I said below, the gun-loving mantra seems to be "Let them drink lead" . . . . PATHETIC . . . .

READ and DIGEST before commenting........... It’s Not About Health Concerns, It is About Private Property Rights By Marion P. Hammer Re: Your editorial on Friday, February 12, 2016, “It's about public health, not gun rights” Your editorial is factually incorrect and politically biased. We will probably never agree politically but you have an obligation to accurately report facts. This issue is not about health concerns or water pollution or lead. It is not about anybody’s failure to clean up the site. The lead shot has been removed and the site has already been cleaned up. That is an indisputable fact and a matter of record. A state agency, the South West Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD -- commonly called Swiftmud) is trying to totally destroy the Skyway Trap & Skeet Club, a private nonprofit Olympic training center and shut down a private business. Court documents prove this. No lead shot has been used on the Skyway Trap & Skeet Club for over 10 years. Only biodegradable clay targets and only steel shot are used on the range. Steel shot is not a pollutant or hazardous waste or hazardous substance. It is an inert harmless combination of metals that occur naturally in the environment. Skyway range does nothing to pollute Sawgrass Lake. On the other hand, the water that fills this flood control lake comes from Pinellas Park drainage ditches that funnel direct road runoff into the lake. This runoff carries everything that can and does leak and spill onto the roads and road shoulders including oil, transmission fluid, gasoline, antifreeze, brake fluid, brake dust, lead balancing weight from car wheels, pesticides, herbicides, household cleaners and any number of other chemicals, directly into the lake. Since 1947 Skyway Trap and Skeet Club has owned this property and has operated this nonprofit private range and business on that property. SWFWMD (Swiftmud) was initially established in 1961 as a flood protection government agency and since then has had a mission to shut down this private range. Though an “eminent domain” lawsuit in 1975, SWFWMD “took” Skyway’s land that was used for their drop zone for shot pellets. SWFWMD has continually initiated legal actions to shut down Skyway. Even though the Court allowed SWFWMD to take Skyway's property, the Court gave Skyway a perpetual right and easement to continue using the property as a drop zone shotgun ammunition. In 2000, SWFWMD again sued Skyway, to permanently prevent any shooting on the Range and to eliminate Skyway's easement rights claiming Skyway had polluted SWFWMD’s property. That lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice. In 2004, Governor Jeb Bush took action to stop SWFWMD's malicious conduct. SWFWMD signed an agreement to construct a berm to keep shot from falling on the property SWFWMD had “taken” through eminent domain. Skyway agreed to construct a shot barrier “in conjunction with” the berm. In 2015, in violation of state law, SWFWMD then filed another lawsuit against Skyway seeking to permanently and completely prevent Skyway's users from any shooting whatsoever claiming Skyway is refusing to build the shot barrier. In truth, SWFWMD has failed to construct the earthen berm properly. The berm is too short and is already starting to degrade with sinkholes and tunneling from rain water absorption and runoff. Currently it is overgrown with thistle and brush and is inaccessible by vehicle or by foot. It is unsafe as evidenced by the erosion of the materials used to construct it and the extreme steepness of the design. One SWFWMD worker has already been killed on this unsafe berm. See article in Tampa Bay Times, August 21, 2014. Skyway would be foolish to erect a shot barrier on an incompetent, unmaintainable, eroding, unsafe, insufficient berm that is steadily degrading day by day. The problem has been created entirely by SWFWMD. For all of this malicious conduct and more, SWFWMD deserves to be abolished. Marion P. Hammer is past president of the National Rifle Association and current Executive Director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida

please do away with this environment unfriendly government agency (s.f.w.m.d ) who stands behind the use of MONSANTOS round up and sprays it like its candy. all this agent orange defoliant that is proven to kill you and me is in use daily around sensitive estuaries that trickles to our aquatic animals . call them ( the south florida management and question them . you will see this crony operation that only cares about one thing -- protecting the sugar machine and their hunting preserves --- they defend round-up (agent orange) and continue using this crap because of monsanto mega contracts-- things have to change --- today high bacteria and this poison mix a deadly cocktail . that is why warnings are out not to swim in the river in martin , st. lucie counties today-- so get a grip . and while your at it to kill time -- GOOGLE ZEKA VIRUS / ROCKEFELLER for a real shock-- revolt people ,its too late to save the water environment in south florida - its finished - they want to control population and experiment on YOU and your kids. besides , they , the 1% does not swim in the crap they created --- they hop their mega yachts and swim in the Bahamas

Totally agree! The use of Round up and sprays is a major issue/concern in Florida. It's killing native plants & flowers along our roads and highways, harm to animals, and there is no proven results that the water is not being contaminated. When I travel along the Florida Turnpike and I-75 along the West Coast, it looks horrible. It is unbelievable the change that's taken place. The beauty is GONE!!

It’s not right for the NRA to threaten abolishing the Southwest Florida Water Management District just because it is in litigation over a water issue with a gun club. Do you have any idea how much lead has accumulated in that lake after 70 years of constant shooting? Something absolutely must be done, because that lead content affects more than just the shooting range. It is SWFWMD’s duty to police such issues. The gun club agreed to take steps to fix the issue and have blatantly violated their agreement to do so. To make this a gun issue is ridiculous and irresponsible and gives the NRA a bad name. I am an avid gun enthusiast and up til this point, a big supporter of the NRA. But to blindly support a gun club just for the sake of the gun gives the NRA a bad public image. The same SWFWMD that you are trying to condemn over one minute issue is the same agency that owns several hundred thousands of acres of WMA hunting land that they allow the public to hunt on. That in itself does more for gun advocacy than any gun club ever would. Do your research before you condemn the water management district.

i condemn the south florida water managment districts to the hilt - lead is one thing- using roundup for killing weeds around are estuaries is not exactly environment friendly, it is a dangerous practice they stand behind 100% -- do your research -- then shut em down-- they just do not see the impact on the dangers of Monsanto s agent orange on our wildlife. Get a grip anonymous, you piece of work. this is a government crony operation that could care less about you and your family -- just money and corporate greed .

Hammer is just a loudmouth nuisance to acting as the mouth piece of which now we are dealing with bullets flying through our backyards literally and there is nothing the individual cities can do to regulate it. Its pretty sick that the NRA bullies the majority of voters by hiding by the 2 amendment right. The right to bare arms is just that, having a gun to protect your home and your person, not disrupting the lives of your neighbors nor their right to have safe drinking water. I think the NRA should be abolished in reason of violating peoples right to peace and quiet and a healthy way of life. Fo far too long the NRA has manipulated and bought politicians to fuel their corrupt agenda's wwhich impede on Tax payers from State to State. Its getting very old seeing the repetitive whining of the NRA. I respect the 2 amendment but I have 0 respect for the NRA for bully tactics they use not only against voters whos majority should rule but the fact they buy politicians and those politicians turn a blind eye to their constituents. Enough of the NRA ( Abolish this Org. ) for safety of the general public.

Is there any detectable lead pollution in the ground water (runoff or well) in the vicinity of the club? That is simple water chemistry that can be done by most municipal water plants. What is reported here is just lawyers arguing with lawyers.

Yes read the studies on their website there is lead in the water these are people actually looking out for your health and your children's health, all the shooters care about is themselves and their sport.

Look what the politicians did in Flint. How many children are going to pay for the greed that those greedy bastards did? Brain and nerve damage that there's no cure for.

Quite frankly, just who does the NRA and this old (past) president Marion (the) Hammer think they are? This is OUR state and the Governor & Legislature are supposed to take directions from 'We, The People'! Ummmm, oops, I forgot, it's not us, but it IS Money which directs our Governor and Legislature! But, honestly, SCREW the NRA.

disgusting that Ms. Hammer and the NRA continue to think they can force government agencies to bow to the almighty gun! Gun owners have NO RIGHT to pollute the waters of the State of Florida. The agency probably tried to work with the gun range to clean up their mess and they probably refused which was probably the impetus for the agency filing suit against the gun club. As a taxpayer, I know I don't feel I should have to underwrite a gun owner's right to expend led into our drinking water. Get rid of the NRA and Ms. Hammer

When I read the comments above I was discusted by these hateful and classless statements! You are the dregs of our society for sure. I have no doubt that you will vote for the likes of socialist Bernie or Hillary. God save this nation from you all :-(((

Disgusting is having to live in a community where local need for rule on shooting your gun in your back yard cannot be enforced due to the NRA's lobbying of the very people voters put into office. Your a part of a minority and no minority should have the right to rule over majority. Maybe when and only then that you have bullets flying through your back yard and over your head will you then see that the NRA has overstepped the rights of the majority to bully and buy laws that are dangerous to society. The amount of corruption in the State of Florida legislation as well as with Gov. Rick Scott is beyond sickening . If you didnt have your head buried in the sand then you would understand just how much corruption there really is. State level Senator Hays is one such politician who makes talking through both sides of his face a talent to B.S. the voters but his ignorance is well known from reading his stupid reasons for his corrupt agenda's.. The likes of both Rick Scott and Hays are only 2 among many bottom feeders who have worked their way into political offices to provide oral gratification just as Hammer has. Her agenda is to make lots of money and she has done so by the money she receives to undermine and ignore her elected responsibility, I hope one day to see laws put into place where these type of politicians can be charged and punished for this activity. Maybe then we will start to see real people who care about the position they are elected to use it for what it was designed. Gov. Scott needs to ran out of the State of Florida with only the shirt on his back.

I am dismayed to see that you cannot even spell 'disgusted' correctly, yet you seek to vilify and denigrate people who simply want equal justice for all. Gun owners and gun club owners are not above the law. The SWFWMD is charged with protecting the integrity of the public watershed. Lead is known to cause significant health hazards, so recently demonstrated in the Flint, Michigan disaster. The dregs of society are those who continue to pollute the environment for fun or profit, and it should be abundantly clear that the electorate will no longer tolerate politicians who put corporate and business interests above the will of the American people. You may have your guns, but you may not shoot me without consequences, nor may you leave your lead in my Florida watershed without consequences.

Well said,

No business has the right to create a superfund site that the taxpayers will bear the cost of cleaning up!! And there is NO federal law, which has jurisdiction over deadly lead pollution of our environment, which would allow such pollution! Marion Hammer is an evil, corrupt old hag who has zero say in the existence of our vital FL water management districts! phuk her, ALEC, the Koch boys and all of their rightwing ilk! She needs to be run out of our state at gunpoint! How do you like that irony? This will be one more multi-million $$ legal bill we taxpayers will end up paying for Don Quixote Scott's insane jihad vs. The fedgov!!

I agree 100% adding its sad that the residence don't get together and run him out of this State. Our State is ranked in the top running for both political and judicial corruption which also flows into law enforcement and that has been for quite some time now. If its corruption your seeking then move to Florida.

The inmates now have taken over the prison. Time to impeach Scott.

Rick Scott should have been impeached his first year in office. When he runs for any office again, voters need to remember how many times he has screwed Florida over for his own agenda's.

Screw the gun club ... screw the NRA ... and ... well ... i guess I'll just leave it at that! Close down the gun club for failure to follow the upgrades and improved procedures it agreed to engage. Failure to comply = Put out of business. End of case. The gun club broke state regulations ... then agreed to comply ... then still failed to comply. Goodbye.

Marion Hammer looks like she has never been banged in her life!

LOL and with her attitude that is easy to see why :)

LET THEM DRINK LEAD! . . . . . . just like in Flint . . . . . partisan "Marie Antoinette" type Guns Über Alles nonsense . . . . . . . nothing like turning into criminals scientists and engineers who are trying to track down (and get cleaned up) the source of lead pollution in groundwater (i.e. exactly what the previous legislation Marion's discussing did) . . . . . . maybe Marion can inform us on exactly what scientific or medical degrees she holds to be the expert on groundwater lead pollution and its health effects on children . . . . . . . . . I'm only surprised she hasn't raised some type of gun-toting nonsense in Flint, Michigan . . . . . you know, the news mentions "lead" in the water . . . . . PATHETIC . . . .

So true! Just because Flint, MI is a city of 100,000 made up of minorities; the GOP say: "Ph'ck them Minorities!"

SO WHERE DID THE LEAD COME FROM IN FLINT MICHIGAN ?

THESE ARE FACTS THAT PEOPLE LIKE HILLARY CLINTON DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT --- WHEN A DEMOCRAT RUN CITY POISINING THEIR OWN CITIZENS BECAUSE THEY ARE ( TO DEMOCRATS A LOWER CLASS ) For the 50 years prior to 2014, Flint’s water has been purchased from Detroit. This water passed through the old lead pipes that connect many homes to the municipal system, but was treated in Detroit with a chemical called orthophosphate that coats the pipes and is intended to stop the leaching of lead. In 2014, Flint switched its water source from Detroit to the Flint River. When this switch was made, the orthophosphate treatment stopped. In addition to the lack of anti-leaching treatment, the water from the Flint River contained eight times more corrosive materials than the previous source, meaning the lead pipes were being corroded at a much faster rate.

DAAAH! . . . . . . . . . it was a GOP-APPOINTED emergency manager that took over control of the local government and who, despite warnings, changed the water source without proper water treatment, resulting in the lead poisoning that went ignored (by the GOP Governor, among others) for months . . . . . . . . . place the blame where the blame belongs (and see who gets criminal charges) . . . . . . . . rightwing out-of-control spin truthiness . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

Jeb! is Dead!

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