Marion Hammer, the longtime voice of the NRA in Florida and one of the most influential gun lobbyists in the nation, is demanding in excess of $1 million in a suit for injuries and damages filed today in federal court in Leon County.
Hammer, 79, claims California mediator Lol Sorensen and others crossed the line when they called her profanity-laced names that cannot be printed here. The language, tone and content of their comments amounted to harassment, assault on her life and constitutional rights, and threats of violence.
"The defendants have transcended mere criticism and employed threats, harassment, and personal abuse to try to humiliate and intimidate Hammer in a manner that is utterly intolerable in a civilized community," the lawsuit said.
The posting of the case on the U.S. District Court of North Florida listed the demand at $1 billion in a libel and slander suit, but that information appeared to be an attorney's error.
Hammer — who lives full-time in Tallahassee — acknowledged that her position and prominence on such a polarizing issue as gun control have "made her a focal point of criticism over the rights and policies she serves to protect."
She said she respects the First Amendment right of others to disagree with her and express their differences.
But she said there is a "marked difference between speech and harassment, and there are clearly delineated bounds of human decency that no person can cross by using fear, intimidation, and threats of violence to lash out at and try to silence those with whom they disagree."
The debate over gun control heated up after the Parkland shooting in February, when 17 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and teachers were killed in the midst of the regular session of the Florida Legislature.
Forced by public protests to take action, the Legislature passed a reform bill that prohibits the sale of guns to anyone under 21.
The same day it was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, Hammer and the NRA filed a lawsuit against Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi challenging its constitutionality.
Hammer claimed death threats kept her away from a Leon County Commission meeting in April to discuss a gun ordinance.
“The death threats come with the job,” she said in an email to the Democrat at the time. “I’ve dealt with it for many, many years. But it is so ugly this time NRA is insisting that I listen to my security advisers. It always amazes me how these people who claim to want to stop violence are so quick to threaten violence. I have never been afraid of them but it really makes me angry when they threaten my family.”
Following the shooting, Hammer claims in the lawsuit, she became a focal point of the "vitriol that includes threats against her and her grandchildren, harassing phone calls, and numerous e-mails and other written communications...."
In the lawsuit, she said that people confronted her in grocery stores, threatening to shoot her and her family.
Hammer also said she received emails telling her to rot in hell, that she was complicit in the deaths of the Stoneman Douglas High students, and much worse.
According to the lawsuit, Sorensen was among the people who emailed her graphic photos of gunshot victims, including a person in a hospital bed with gaping leg wounds and a photo of John F. Kennedy's head after he was assassinated.
Sorensen was not immediately available for comment.
The suit states Chris Risica, Howard Weiss, and Patrick Sullivan also sent Hammer unsolicited emails describing her in vile, profane terms, calling her an "ammosexual" and suggesting she die a horrible death by gunfire or be shot between the eyes with 100 bullets.
She's accused Sorensen of cyberstalking and harassment, and all four of intentional infliction of emotional distress and intrusion upon seclusion.
The lawsuit notes several other attacks on the NRA:
- Following the 2017 fatal shooting in Las Vegas, an NRA spokewoman was forced to move after receiving rape and death threats, and threats directed at her children.
- A professor was convicted in May of spraying fake blood on the home of an NRA lobbyist in Alexandria, Virginia.
- And a billboard in Louisville, Kentucky had "Kill the NRA" scrawled across it.
The lawsuit said Hammer is the target of a concerted effort to harass and intimidate her, and other organizations and individuals that are "organizing, directing, aiding, abetting, coordinating, and/or participating in their actions may be added as defendants at a later time."
Hammer said she's received the same postcards from various people throughout the country, often mailed from the same location. "In several instances, the content of the communications Hammer received used the same specific terms and phrases, thus demonstrating direction and cooperation," the lawsuit said.
Read the text of the lawsuit below.
WARNING: This document contains graphic language that may be unsuitable for young readers.
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