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The Brady Campaign is giving tourists leaflets that warn them to take precautions here.

Beth Kassab | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted October 20, 2005

Tourists arriving at Orlando International Airport today will be the latest targets of a national gun-control group cautioning visitors about a new Florida law that, it says, makes people vulnerable to gunfights.

Orlando is the second stop for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in its national campaign against the state law that took effect Oct. 1.

The group -- established by former presidential spokesman Jim Brady, who was wounded during an assassination attempt on President Reagan, and Brady's wife, Sarah -- began handing out leaflets at Miami International Airport earlier this month. It plans to stay in Orlando at least through Dec. 1, said spokesman Zach Ragbourn.

"People are reading them, and that's our first and foremost goal," he said. "People have said, 'If you guys are even half right about this, this is insane.' "

Among other points, the leaflet urges people to "please take sensible precautions," such as remaining in their car and keeping their hands in sight if they are involved in a traffic accident or near-collision.

A priority of the National Rifle Association during the spring Legislative session, the law gives legal protection to a person who is attacked any place "where he or she has a right to be."

The new law gives criminal and civil immunity to an individual who decides to "stand his or her ground and meet force with force" for self-protection at home and in public places unless the victim is a police officer.

At least some tourists in Orlando have already heard of the campaign.

Joern Nilsen was at the airport Wednesday to catch a flight back to Norway after spending 10 days in Florida.

He said he had heard something about the law, but wasn't concerned about it.

"We felt safe except for the hurricanes," he said

The Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau referred questions about the Brady campaign to a statement from the state Attorney General's Office.

The statement touts Florida's crime rate as being at a 34-year low and calls the campaign a political tactic.

"We believe that Americans and international visitors are smart enough to understand that the Brady campaign is one group's political agenda and not a real safety issue," the statement said. "It is a scare tactic campaign, not an education campaign as stated."

Beth Kassab can be reached at 407-420-5448 or [email protected].
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