Lo­cal GOP mega-donor forms gun con­trol group

The Palm Beach Post - - NATION & WORLD - By Alexan­dra Clough Palm Beach Post Staff Writer aclough@pb­post.com Twit­ter: @aclough­pbp

Repub­li­can mega-donor Al Hoff­man Jr. of North Palm Beach has formed a gun con­trol ad­vo­cacy group, build­ing on the mo­men­tum cre­ated last month when he de­manded that the GOP pass leg­is­la­tion to re­strict ac­cess to guns.

The ad­vo­cacy group’s name is Amer­i­cans for Gun Safety Now, and its goal is to see Congress pass leg­is­la­tion lim­it­ing the sale of as­sault­style weapons, among other mea­sures.

Hoff­man told The Palm Beach Post on Mon­day that the group “is off and run­ning” with a grow­ing list of sup­port­ers ap­palled by the Feb. 14 mas­sacre at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land. Th­ese sup­port­ers in­clude other like-minded busi­ness lead­ers who are an­gry that as­sault­style weapons can be pur­chased eas­ily, Hoff­man said.

Niko­las Cruz, 19, is al­leged to have killed 17 peo­ple at Dou­glas High School af­ter buy­ing an AR-15 from a gun store in Coral Springs. He was 18 when he pur­chased the weapon, of­fi­cials said.

Hoff­man said he plans to march with a group from Park­land who will be at­tend­ing the stu­dent-led March for Our Lives demon­stra­tion in Wash­ing­ton D.C. on March 24.

Hoff­man, a real es­tate de­vel­oper who helped build Park­land, said Amer­i­cans for Gun Safety Now will push for the elim­i­na­tion of so-called bump stocks, which al­low cer­tain firearms to fire as rapidly as ma­chine guns. The group also will seek to raise the na­tional age to pur­chase a gun to 21 and ex­pand uni­ver­sal back­ground checks.

Amer­i­cans for Gun Safety Now also wants to to limit high-ca­pac­ity gun mag­a­zines, which can fea­ture 30 rounds. “How many shots do you need to kill a deer?” Hoff­man told The Post.

Hoff­man is for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of WCI Com­mu­ni­ties, a ma­jor home builder. He’s also a for­mer Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee fi­nance chair and am­bas­sador to Por­tu­gal.

On Feb. 17, three days af­ter the Park­land shoot­ing, Hoff­man told the New York Times he would not write any checks to can­di­dates who do not sup­port a ban on military style weapons for civil­ians.

The ul­ti­ma­tum was an­nounced to sev­eral Repub­li­can lead­ers, in­clud­ing Gov. Rick Scott and for­mer gover­nor and pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Jeb Bush.

Since Hoff­man is­sued his pro­nounce­ment, he said a num­ber of other busi­ness lead­ers have ex­pressed sup­port for his stance, a de­vel­op­ment that could be­gin a wave of de­fec­tions from long­stand­ing GOP sup­port for un­fet­tered ac­cess to guns.

Hoff­man said he’s re­ceived more than 1,000 sup­port­ive emails and tweets.

Many of them are from busi­ness lead­ers who also have pledged to sup­port the gun leg­is­la­tion that Amer­i­cans for Gun Safety Now wants passed, Hoff­man said.

“I’m ex­cited,” Hoff­man said. “So many peo­ple are sign­ing on ... I’ve called my old bud­dies, ma­jor donors. I said, ‘We’ve got to get some­thing go­ing.’ And here we are. We started an or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Hoff­man said the group’s web­site should be launched some­time this week.

Hoff­man was a lead­ing de­vel­oper of Park­land and at­tended the ded­i­ca­tion of Dou­glas High School.

When he goes to Wash­ing­ton D.C. next month for the March for our Lives, Hoff­man said he’s bring­ing along a po­lice of­fi­cer who found a slain Dou­glas High School vic­tim in a hall­way.

Hoff­man said a new Florida law passed last week is a start to­ward en­act­ing rea­son­able gun laws, and he said the fed­eral govern­ment should do the same. The law im­poses a three-day wait­ing pe­riod on the pur­chase of any firearm, boosts the min­i­mum age to buy a gun in the state to 21 and bans the sale of bump stocks, among other mea­sures.

“We want Congress to pass those same laws right now. And then move on to more com­pre­hen­sive leg­is­la­tion soon,” he said.

Hoff­man ex­pressed dis­taste for Repub­li­can Sen. Marco Ru­bio, a ma­jor re­cip­i­ent of money from the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion and a fa­vorite law­maker of the or­ga­ni­za­tion, which ad­vo­cates for gun rights. The NRA filed a fed­eral law­suit to block the state’s new gun law a few hours af­ter Scott signed it.

“He took $3.3 mil­lion” from the NRA, Hoff­man said. “Why would he want to change now?”

Al Hoff­man Jr. says ‘so many’ are join­ing his new ef­fort.

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