TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Marion Hammer, a Florida-based lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, is retiring after more than 40 years serving the organization. The gun rights advocacy organization announced Hammer’s retirement in a release on Thursday.

Hammer first worked with the NRA in September 1978, according to the statement. In 1996, Hammer became the first female president of the organization, and served a two-year term.

“It has been an honor to serve NRA members as state lobbyist in Florida. Above all, it’s been my privilege to serve and to fight alongside great warriors for our cause like Wayne, without whom many of our nation’s self-defense laws would not have been possible.  When I was first hired in September 1978, I was given one mission – ‘Do what you need to do, but do not let Florida become another California.’ For 44 years, I am proud to say that I faithfully delivered on that assignment with the help of our great NRA members,” Hammer said in a statement.

Her effect on the organization and its efforts across the United States was praised by NRA executive vice president and CEO, Wayne LaPierre.

“Marion Hammer’s name has become synonymous with the Second Amendment and with the NRA. She is a dynamic and legendary advocate who has led the way with many laws that started in Florida and then served as a blueprint across the country. For more than 40 years, I have been in the trenches with Marion for landmark fights, including Right-to-Carry, Castle Doctrine and other life-saving, pro-hunting and pro-Second Amendment laws. I am grateful that Marion will stay on as an advisor to the Association – so our members can continue to benefit from her expertise and defense of their freedoms,” he said.

The statement on Hammer’s retirement said that through her work “at the helm,” Florida became a leader in pro-gun and pro-self-defense legislation pushes. The Eddie Eagle Gun Safe program launched while Hammer was president of the NRA is touted by Hammer as “her proudest achievement” while leading the group. To date, the NRA said the safe program ahs “reached more than 32 million children across America.”

Hammer is also known for her work on Florida’s stand your ground law, passed in 2005. Her effort to get the bill passed made Florida the first state to have a stand your ground law on the books, according to Media Matters. That same year, she was inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame.

In addition to her gun rights advocacy, Hammer is “a staunch and vocal advocate for quality educational opportunities for children with dyslexia and learning disabilities,” according to her entry in the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame.

The NRA said that while Hammer was retiring from her position as a state lobbyist in Florida for the NRA-Institute for Legislative Action, she would remain on board as an advisor to the organization.