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Friday, November 22, 2019

Former NRA president sues 4 men over 'campaign of hate and vitriol'


By Karen Kidd | Jul 25, 2018

Handguns on display | File Photo

TALLAHASSEE — The 79-year-old former president of the National Rifle Association has filed a $1 million lawsuit in federal court against four men she claims threatened her and her grandchildren after the Parkland school shooting in February. 

Marion P. Hammer, who works as an NRA lobbyist in Tallahassee, alleges in the 31-page lawsuit that she was targeted  by the defendants in "a campaign of hate and vitriol," because of her high-profile role with the NRA, according to the lawsuit filed July 13 in U.S. District Court for Florida's Northern District in Tallahassee. 

Hammer is described in the lawsuit as "a 79-year-old grandmother and nationally renowned civil rights advocate who has spent the better part of her life protecting the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution." She was the first female president of the NRA, serving from 1995-1998.

Marion P. Hammer, Florida gun lobbyist and former NRA president | File photo

Defendants in the case are Lawrence T. "LOL" Sorensen of Camarillo, California; Christopher Risica of New London, Connecticut; and Howard Weiss and Patrick Sullivan, both described in the lawsuit as "believed to be a citizen and resident of a state other than Florida."

Hammer is seeking a jury trial and judgment against each defendant to cover damages and her legal costs. No trial date has been set. 

Tampa attorneys Kenneth G. Turkel and Shane B. Vogt will represent the plaintiff before U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Hinkle.

Hammer claims in the lawsuit that the men harassed her by phone, email and other forms of communication, causing her emotional distress, humiliation, shame and embarrassment. The lawsuit included graphic and profane examples of emails that Hammer claims were sent to her.

"Hammer’s daily life has drastically altered because of the harassment she is enduring," the lawsuit said.

"Whenever she is in public she worries that the people who have been harassing her will confront her and that a confrontation could turn violent. She has a very close relationship with her family, but now frequently avoids going out to dinner with them because she runs the risk of being recognized and attacked; potentially exposing her family and other members of the public to physical violence directed toward her."

According to the lawsuit, the threats and harassment started after the Feb. 14, 2018, shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. A 19-year-old gunman killed 17 students and staff members at the school. The shootings led to a national debate on gun control. 

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