Update, Thursday January 14, 1:15 p.m.:
Skylar Seargeant, the director of Florida Gun Rights, responded:
Both Florida Gun Rights and our affiliate, the National Association for Gun Right[s], put our money where our mouth is – by working diligently to oppose gun control, at a level far exceeding the institutional gun lobby, which raises hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Groups who represent gun owners yet advance restrictions and controls on gun owners – like a backyard range ban in Florida, or claiming credit for passing the Brady Registration system on a federal level – are the real scammers here.
Institutional lobby claiming credit for Brady Registration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLTMkg1RLW0 (2:04)
Original story, January 14 at 7:30 a.m.:
Yesterday, the National Rifle Association warned that a shady organization is trying to scam Florida gun owners.
A mass email alert was sent out via the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, its lobbying arm. Marion P. Hammer, a past president of the NRA and current president of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida, explained that a group called "Florida Gun Rights" (FLGR) was reaching out to gun owners claiming that a "Backyard Range Ban" bill was pending in the Legislature and that gun owners should be concerned.
Wrote Hammer: "Make no mistake, there is NO SUCH BILL." She explained that a pending bill, HB-41, simply adds a subsection to existing law "to prohibit the discharge of firearms in residential neighborhoods that have a density of one or more dwellings per acre."
Hammer did not return a call for comment yesterday afternoon, but in her email, she alleged that the FLGR is only taking advantage of gun owners' fears to collect donations.
"When FLGR asks you to send them money to fund their imaginary operation," she wrote, "they use a Tallahassee, Florida, address for you to mail your checks. But FLGR's address is actually a drop box in a UPS Store in a strip mall in Tallahassee where UPS employees box up their customers' mail and ship it off to their customers' real address somewhere else. She pointed out that FLGR's "corporate documents clearly show their principal place of business is Colorado."
On FLGR's own website, the organization is described as "Florida's largest and only no-compromise gun rights organization." It solicits donations at the "liberty level" ($30), "patriot level" ($50), and "freedom level" ($100). [ROFLMAO!] No one responded immediately to a request for comment sent through the site.
The website states that "FLGR is organized as a non-profit, state-level affiliate of the National Association for Gun Rights, a 501(c)(4) nonpartisan grassroots organization made up of gun owners and lovers of liberty." The National Association for Gun Rights is indeed organized as a nonprofit, but FLGR is listed as a limited liability company (LLC) with the State of Florida.
The National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) claims to be "the fastest-growing gun rights organization in the country" since its 2001 inception, claiming more than 3 million members. But over the years, it has sparred frequently with the NRA (NAGR considers the NRA to be spineless!) and its founder, Dudley Brown, has been a controversial and bombastic figure who regularly attacks his fellow Republicans for not being conservative enough.
The Second Amendment Foundation, another pro-gun group, has called Brown "a political bomb-throwing bully whose stock in trade is to incite distrust and discontent within the ranks of the gun rights movement to enhance his own fund-raising efforts and power base." A political rival described him in a Denver magazine as "a political terrorist and a modern-day charlatan who operates in the shadows and portrays himself as a supposed ‘Christian,’ but he uses the people naive enough to believe him and financially support him.”
IRS documents show that in 2013, the most recent year available on Guidestar, NAGR brought in $16.4 million in revenue, of which more than $9 million was spent on "mail and internet communication." Brown's salary was listed as $94,217. Presidential candidate Rand Paul has been affiliated with Brown's group and thus shunned by the NRA.
New Times left a request for comment with NAGR yesterday. We'll update if there's any response.
In the meantime, here's some of Hammer's warning:
Further, FLGR has no registered lobbyist in Florida, which means either it's not really lobbying, or that it is lobbying illegally.
In short, FLGR is nothing but a fundraising organization that (except for some paperwork formalities) has no presence in Florida except for a shell game of addresses for service of legal documents and to rake in contributions.
It is clearly just another name for the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) a primarily Internet run organization based in Colorado with mail drop boxes around the country to receive contributions.
Since FLGR doesn't do anything NAGR couldn't do on its own, It has no apparent purpose except to double-dip the wallets of well-meaning gun owners who haven't looked beyond the group's name and rhetoric.
FLGR's email claims they are a non-profit, nonpartisan, single-purpose organization.
FLGR is not incorporated as a nonprofit Florida corporation. FLGR is registered as Florida LLC (normally a for-profit small business). Their single purpose seems to be conning you (regardless of your political party) into sending them money.
Their messages are misleading rhetoric designed to inflame. There is no "neighborhood shooting range" bill to stop. Yet, FLGR continues to email Florida Gun Owners raising money on a nonexistent bill."
You are being deceived. It's time you knew it.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.