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NRA takes aim at adoption agencies over guns

The Nation Rifle Association is pushing legislation to ban adoption agencies from asking potential parents if they have guns and ammunition in the home.

NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer said adoption agencies are violating gun-owners rights by asking about firearms. She said any request about gun ownership from an agency connected with government was tantamount to establishing a gun registry.

“Gun registration is illegal in Florida,” Hammer said. “An adoption agency has no right to subvert the privacy rights of gun owners.”

The issue flared up in Brevard County where a gun-owning couple took umbrage with the Children’s Home Society’s request that they disclose if they had firearms before adopting a child.

The couple complained to a lawyer, who called Hammer. She said it would be easier to change the law, rather than sue.

Spokespeople for the society in Brevard County and its Winter Park headquarters did not return calls for comment.

Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, is sponsoring the legislation at the behest of his constituents, whom he wouldn’t name for privacy reasons. Though the one-page bill says it’s “unlawful” for an adoption agency to ask about gun ownership, the bill does not specify any penalties for those who would violate it.

Altman is also sponsoring a separate a bill designed to lift some bureaucratic barriers to adoption. Altman said he wasn’t trying to lift the state’s ban on gay couples who adopt because “it’s too controversial.” He did say that he believed gay couples in some cases should be allowed to adopt, however.

The Department of Children and Families, which oversees adoptions and has boasted about placing a record number of children in homes recently, has not analyzed the bill and can’t comment on it yet, said Alan Abramowitz, who oversees DCF’s family safety programs.

The NRA is pushing another bill designed to prohibit lawmakers from raiding a special account that helps fund state operations to process concealed-weapon permit applications.

If the gun bills are like others pushed by the NRA in the Republican-led Legislature, they’ll pass.

Some longtime NRA opponents, like Democratic Sen. Nan Rich, said she didn’t like the idea of banning an agency from simply asking about gun ownership.

“Parents frequently ask if other parents have guns in the home before their kids play there, so why can’t an adoption agency just ask?” Rich said.