ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - "Disappointment" and "punishment" was how the National Rifle Association reacted to the signing of Florida's first gun control measure in more than two decades.
“This bill punishes law-abiding gun owners for the criminal acts of a deranged individual,” wrote Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, on the organization's website. “Securing our schools and protecting the constitutional rights of Americans are not mutually exclusive. Instead of looking to the root cause of this premeditated violence, the gun control provisions in this law wrongly blame millions of Floridians who safely and responsibly exercise their right to self-defense.”
The measure, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott on Friday, is named after the Parkland school where 17 students and staff were killed in a mass shooting on Valentine's Day. It includes a three-day waiting period for most gun purchases, raises the minimum age to 21 to purchase a rifle or shotgun and gives police more authority to confiscate weapons.
"Preventing a responsible 20-year-old from purchasing the best tool for self-defense will not stop a deranged criminal intent on committing a crime," the organization said. "Imposing a 3-day wait period on rifle and shotgun purchases would not have stopped any of the high-profile mass shootings in recent years."
The NRA has come under increased scrutiny since the shooting, including multiple corporate partners severing ties with the gun-rights group. Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Symantec and First National Bank of Omaha are among companies that ended their financial relationships with the organization.
Georgia legislators removed Delta's $40 million jet-fuel tax break after the Atlanta-based airline dropped the NRA from a discount fare program.
Increasing school security, improving the mental health system and keeping firearms away from those with mental illness - items that are addressed in the school safety bill - is the best way to address gun violence, the NRA said.
“The deranged murderer in Parkland, Florida gave repeated warning signs that were ignored by federal and state officials," the group said. "If we want to prevent future atrocities, we must look for solutions that keep guns out of the hands of those who are a danger to themselves or others, while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans.”
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