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Anti-Gunners Shamelessly Exploit September 11 Tragedies

Friday, September 28, 2001

As we predicted, the anti-Second Amendment community has employed the disgraceful tactic of exploiting our nation`s fear over terrorism to promote attacks on our Right to Keep and Bear Arms. On September 25, the Boston Globe published a grossly misleading attack on gun shows by syndicated columnist Tom Oliphant—an attack clearly inspired by a "fact sheet" provided to him by the anti-gun organization called Americans for Gun Safety (AGS). Oliphant and AGS seem to have collaborated in a deliberate attempt to inject the word "terrorist" into the gun show debate by digging up a case the FBI began investigating more than a year ago. Oliphant and AGS attempted to use the case of a convicted felon, Ali Boumelhem, suspected of going to gun shows to purchase firearms intended to be shipped overseas for use in terrorist activities as a reason for promoting legislation that would shut down gun shows as we know them today. The facts do not support the anti-gunners, though, because the system worked—the suspect was arrested, prosecuted, and convicted in federal court.

In order to foster the ruse that there was a link between gun shows and terrorism, AGS selectively edited material it sent journalists and members of Congress to try to create a nexus for its agenda of placing new restrictions on law-abiding gun owners. The AGS "fact sheet" mailing states an FBI informant previously had seen Boumelhem in Beirut unloading shipments of weapons and explosives. The Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, which AGS cites as its source, is much more specific, saying the FBI informant "had seen Boumelhem in Beirut unloading shipments of automatic weapons, explosives, grenades and rocket launchers." Clearly, "automatic weapons, explosives, grenades and rocket launchers" was changed to "weapons and explosives" by AGS, knowing full well that none of those items can be bought or sold at any gun show anywhere in America.

AGS, the recent creation of anti-gun billionaire (and a past board member of the gun-ban lobby formally known as HCI) Andrew McKelvey, was conceived as a public relations ploy to push the same old gun control agenda behind the facade of "third way" centrist rhetoric. And despite its carefully focus-grouped moniker, McKelvey`s creation has zero Americans for members and nothing to do with gun safety programs.

AGS is joined in its shameless exploitation of tragedy by McKelvey`s old friends at HCI. But Sarah Brady`s gun-ban lobby took Oliphant`s column a step further, and is using it to promote the registration of all law-abiding gun purchasers. But even more shamelessly than AGS, which refuses to publicly admit its true national agenda is the licensing and registration of all gun owners, HCI has further expanded the exploitation of the tragic events of September 11. Virtually every release from the gun-ban lobby concerning the recent terrorist attacks—attacks, we should all remember, that did not involve any firearms—has included a pitch promoting its anti-gun agenda. Even a recent release regarding the discussion of arming airline pilots as a possible safeguard against terrorist hijackings saw the gun-ban lobby`s president, Michael Barnes, include a pitch for registering gun owners.

In the days and weeks to come, Congress will consider many proposals that seek to ensure America`s safety from terrorists, but promoting attacks on legal gun shows and pushing registration schemes for law-abiding gun owners have no place in this discussion. Be sure to let your federal lawmakers know that the debate over legislative attacks on legal gun shows, such as S. 767, introduced by U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and S. 890, introduced by U.S. Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), have no place in an appropriate congressional debate on the threat of terrorism. Be sure to contact your U.S. Senators, at (202) 224-3121, and your U.S. Representative, at (202) 225-3121, and urge them to do everything possible to end the threat of terrorism, but not at the expense of our freedom. You can also find contact information for your federal lawmakers by using our "Write Your Reps" tool.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.