The Money Trail Behind Florida’s Notorious Gun Law
The money trail leading to the watershed law in Florida—the first of the 24 across the nation—traces primarily to one source: the National Rifle Association. When Gov. Bush conducted the 2005 signing ceremony, standing alongside him was Marion Hammer, a leader and familiar face from the pro-gun lobbying powerhouse. But the NRA’s support for the Stand Your Ground law was far more than symbolic. An analysis by Mother Jones of election and lobbying records reveals that the NRA was instrumental in creating Stand Your Ground: Over a seven-year period the organization gave more than $73,000 in campaign donations to the 41 Florida legislators who backed the law. That money was buttressed by intense lobbying activity and additional funds spent by the NRA in support of the bill’s introduction and passage.
The NRA’s point man in the Florida legislature was state Rep. Dennis Baxley (R). In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Baxley, a card-carrying NRA member and an ally of Bush’s, reaped financial support from the NRA’s Political Victory Fund. In 2000 Baxley received a $500 campaign donation from the NRA (the state’s legal limit per election cycle) on top of nearly a thousand dollars more in independent spending backing him. By 2004 the NRA awarded Baxley its “Defender of Freedom” award. And in 2007, the NRA spent a whopping $35,000 on radio advertising to support Baxley in a primary fight. (He lost.)