TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The woman responsible for many of the nation’s most permissive gun laws is a 4-foot-11, 73-year-old grandmother who carries a Smith & Wesson .38 Special with a laser sight in her purse.

Marion Hammer, top lobbyist for the National Rifle Association in Florida, translates personal experiences into policies replicated in statehouses around the country.

Among them was the Stand Your Ground law allowing deadly force in self-defense, which generated nationwide controversy after the Feb. 26 shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Florida teenager. She also championed a model concealed-carry law that the NRA said last year had spread to 29 other states.

Most recently, Florida lawmakers restricted doctors from asking about guns in the home after the silver-haired Hammer complained that a Tallahassee pediatrician questioned her granddaughter. At least five states are considering similar measures.

“There is no single individual responsible for enacting more pro-gun legislation in the states than Marion Hammer,” said Richard Feldman, a former political organizer for the Fairfax, Va.-based NRA.

Hammer served as the first female president of the NRA for three years in the 1990s. She stood over then-Gov. Jeb Bush’s right shoulder as he signed the Stand Your Ground bill on her 66th birthday.

“She’s a tenacious person,” said Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who credited Hammer for helping him capture his party’s 2010 nomination, a race he won by 2.8 percentage points.

Because Hammer is a registered Democrat, she can’t vote in the Republican primaries she and the NRA have influenced. Hammer has maintained her party affiliation for decades, dating to an era when North Florida Democrats ran the state. Republicans have since taken control.

A safety advocate who created Eddie Eagle, the NRA’s version of Smokey Bear, Hammer has raised two grandchildren since 1996 when their mother — the youngest of Hammer’s own three children — was diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor.

Among colleagues inside the Capitol, she’s known as a relentless crusader. She can also hold a grudge.

A year after Audubon of Florida’s president backed gun-show regulations that Hammer opposed, she lobbied against one of the environmental group’s priorities: naming the scrub jay the state’s official bird. During a legislative hearing, she denounced the endangered pale blue-and-gray bird’s propensity to beg for food as epitomizing a “welfare mentality.”

Her temper can flare in front of powerful political players. She yelled at Ken Plante, then-chief of staff for Bush, a Republican, when a vote on a gun bill was canceled after the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, which killed 13 people.

“She’s very committed to what she’s trying to get done and that’s all she can see,” Plante said. “She’s dogmatic.”

Hammer, who declined an interview request, retains her sway despite a decline in membership in United Sportsmen of Florida, the NRA affiliate she runs in the Sunshine State. In 2010, the group collected $31,360 in dues, down 24 percent from 2008, according to Internal Revenue Service records. Gifts and other contributions, meanwhile, totaled $238,325 in 2010, up 30 percent from two years before.

Hammer earned an average of $244,000 per year from United Sportsmen and the NRA from 2008-2010, according to IRS records.

While personal experience often drives Hammer’s gun bills, it pushes her into other debates also.

She lobbied to allow dyslexic children such as her grandson to use talking computers during standardized tests. She got money in the state budget to pay for speed-limit signs in front of private schools like the one the boy attended.

This year, Hammer helped defeat a property-insurance bill favored by a company that dropped her as a client after she filed a claim, according to an insurance lobbyist who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

Born Marion Alberta Price in Columbia, S.C., Hammer moved to her paternal grandparents’ farm at age 5 after her father died in World War II.

She got her first gun then, too: her father’s .22 single-shot rifle.

“Your dad died for our freedoms,” Hammer’s grandfather told her, as she recalled during her 2005 Hall of Fame induction speech. “Protecting these freedoms is part of your heritage.”