A prominent Republican donor said he is launching a group devoted to pushing for comprehensive gun safety legislation on a national level following last month’s deadly high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Al Hoffman Jr., a real estate developer who served as Ambassador to Portugal under George W. Bush, plans to publicly announce the formation of the group, which will be called Americans for Gun Safety Now, on March 24, when he is in Washington D.C. to attend the March for Our Lives rally.
Hoffman drew headlines last month when he said that he would refrain from supporting politicians who did not support a ban on assault weapon sales in the wake of the Parkland shooting. The purpose of the group he is forming, he told TIME in an interview Monday, is to ensure that Congress passes a gun control package by the end of the year — that both contains and builds on provisions in the bill Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law last week — while maintaining support for the Second Amendment.
“This organization is dedicated to bringing together [people] to create a national strategy for bringing out real reform — protections and changes to our nations gun laws,” Hoffman said Monday. “If we can get this march to help solidify the sense of urgency to pass gun legislation now, to get it done before they go home for Christmas for Congress, we’d all be a much safer nation.”
Hoffman declined to specify who was involved or he had spoken with about the endeavor, explaining that he wanted to reveal more information later in the month, but said he had held conversations with over 50 people.
“Its a committed group of concerned citizens. We represent a wide variety of stakeholders,” he said. “These are notable Americans.”
The $400 million gun control package Scott signed into law last Friday does not ban assault weapons, which is what Hoffman initially said he wanted after the Parkland shooting.
But it does raise the age limit of purchasing a firearms to 21, imposes a three day waiting period for the sales of firearms, bans bump stocks, provides $75 million in funding expanded mental health services, and allows some teachers with the proper training to be armed. Hoffman said he wants national legislation to include a ban on bump stocks — which President Trump said he would do through executive action — limit high capacity magazines, and raise the age limit for all gun sales to 21, before turning to the implementation of universal background checks and providing additional support for mental health services.
“And this is all while we’re pledging our support for Second Amendment rights,” he said, highlighting the fact that he keeps a gun underneath the seat of his car and has a concealed weapons permit. “Thats really what we’re trying to do.”
Hoffman also did not specify if the group would be a non-profit organization or a political action committee, or start as a non-profit and then form a PAC, although he did note that Congressional lawmakers on board with the proposals from the group would receive financial support. But the formation of this group appears to come at a time when the incentives to pass gun control seem to be waning.
Just hours after Scott signed Florida’s gun control bill into law, the National Rifle Association filed suit in court, arguing that raising the age limit to purchase a rifle violated the Second Amendment. Although the House of Representatives is slated to vote Wednesday on the STOP School Violence Act, which has bipartisan support, that bill deals largely with the issue of school safety rather than gun control.
Hoffman said he expects to encounter opposition in his push for gun safety legislation, but he will stand by his ideas.
“I can’t support them,” he said of politicians who may be opposed to his proposals. “Some of them I like very much, but I can’t support them.”
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