February 13, 2001
Dear Member of Congress:
In the next few days you may see advertising from a new gun control activist group called "Americans for Gun Safety" (AGS). We would like to offer a little background information to keep their efforts in perspective.
Despite the moderate rhetoric and flashy ads, as a "rose by any other name," AGS smells a lot like longtime gun ban lobby Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI). AGS is the brainchild of its principal funder, Andrew McKelvey, a former HCI board member who became disillusioned with his old organization`s continued ineffectiveness. His strategy for building AGS is an old-fashioned hostile takeover: offer local anti-gun groups sorely needed funding for their operations, in return for their affiliation. So far, about 26 state groups—mostly longtime HCI affiliates—have joined.
AGS is staffed, in turn, by its president Jonathan Cowan, former chief of staff to former HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo, of course, was the Clinton Administration`s leading proponent of blackmailing the firearms industry into ill-advised "settlements" by threatening prolonged and expensive litigation against gunmakers, to force them to agree to gun control schemes the Congress would not pass. Additionally, Cuomo hatched the plan to waste millions of taxpayer dollars on gun turn-in schemes, that had been found by the Administration`s own Department of Justice to be ineffective in reducing crime. This ill-advised plan was also so clearly unauthorized by law that it drew a sharp rebuke from HUD`s Inspector General.
Personnel aside, AGS`s claim to champion a "third way" in the gun debate rings hollow upon analysis of materials distributed to their state affiliates. I have enclosed a few pages from the materials distributed at a recent AGS meeting that indicate their real "top national priority": "passage of licensing and/or registration in the next Congress."
I hope this information is helpful to you in evaluating AGS and its proposals. Needless to say, the National Rifle Association remains committed to the same principles as always, promoting the safe and responsible use of firearms by law-abiding Americans and the swift and sure punishment of violent criminals.
James Jay Baker