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Shortly after Florida senators narrowly passed a bill that raised the age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 and imposed a minimum three-day waiting period on gun purchases, several Republican members received a gift hand-delivered to their offices: a jar of tar and feathers.
“From the Children of Bradford County,” reads a note, written in red tape across one side of the jelly jars. “The tar and feather enemy of freedom award,” it read on the other side. On the top, the jars are decorated with a plastic “poop” emoji and a glued feather.
Senators aren’t sure who distributed the gifts to their offices, but aides say it wasn’t children. They do know that the backlash has begun in the wake of the 20-18 vote that moved the school safety bill through the Senate Monday.
Eleven of the Senate Republicans who voted for the measure are either termed out or do not have to face voters in November. Six of them, however, are up for re-election in November and must now face the wrath of the gun lobby if it puts someone up against them in a primary. They include: Sens. Jeff Brandes, Kathleen Passidomo, Keith Perry, Wilton Simpson, Kelli Stargel and Dana Young.
Marion Hammer, head of the National Rifle Association’s Florida chapter, denied the NRA has threatened any legislators. “We don’t make threats. And we never discuss our strategy,” she told the Herald/Times.
The NRA posted an alert to its members, claiming that “Senate leadership strong-armed Senators to vote in favor of the bill,” and warned that House leaders are now “trying to bully Second Amendment supports to get them to vote for the gun control package.”
“YOU and every other law-abiding gun owner is being blamed for an atrocious act of premeditated murder,” the NRA wrote. “Neither the 3-day waiting period on all rifles and shotguns, raising the age from 18 to 21 to buy any firearm, or the bump stock ban will have any effect on crime. Despite that fact, Senate leaders rammed through gun control as part of the bill.”
The NRA urged members to email members of the Florida House and urge them to reject the amendment.