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AGS Launches Next Phase Of Shameless Exploitation Campaign

Thursday, November 22, 2001

The anti-gun organization that calls itself "Americans for Gun Safety" (AGS)—in spite of the fact that it has zero Americans for members, and nothing to do with gun safety programs—is determined to stick to its shameless strategy of exploiting the fear of global terrorism in an attempt to advance its attacks on legal gun shows. On Friday, November 9, AGS, along with a Florida affiliate of the gun-ban lobby formerly known as HCI, sent a letter to Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) that calls on the governor to author legislation at the state level that would promote AGS`s attacks on gun shows, and also urges Bush to lobby Florida`s congressional delegation to support S. 890, the AGS-endorsed bill that would end gun shows as we know them today. According to AGS, this is the first step in a concerted campaign that will target a total of 37 governors.

The letter, signed by Jonathan Cowan, president of AGS, and Arthur Hayhoe, the executive director of the Florida Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (FCSGV), continues to misrepresent two isolated cases, one in Michigan and one in Florida. (AGS`s distortions of the facts in these cases have already been exposed in NRA-ILA FAX Alert, Vol. 8, No. 39.) In addition to these two cases, AGS has now added a third case from Texas. This case also involves an individual who, under existing laws, was investigated, arrested, charged, prosecuted, pleaded guilty to some charges, and is still being investigated by a federal grand jury to determine if he has any actual involvement with terrorist activities. Once again, the AGS citation of the case proves that no new laws restricting legal gun shows are needed to fight crime or terrorism.

In citing the Texas case, however, AGS has shown that it will not only resort to exploiting fears over terrorism to promote its attacks on gun shows, but it will also stoop to exploiting fears many Americans have over any individual whose name or country of origin might be associated with the region of the world where America`s armed forces are currently waging a war against real threats of terrorism. In the recent mailing to Governor Bush, AGS carefully notes the name Ali Boumelhem from the Michigan case, and states he is a member of a known terrorist organization—as it has done previously in advertisements and an e-mail to members of congress.

AGS then alleges a link to the Irish Republican Army in the Florida case—although a jury rejected the prosecutor`s attempt to link the defendants to the IRA. AGS, however, never mentions any names in the Florida case, as they probably did not sound enough like a stereotypical "terrorist name." In the Texas case, AGS never mentions an actual link to terrorists, as none has been proven. AGS clearly could not wait for the formalities of our criminal justice system to bring the facts of the case to light. Instead, the AGS letter makes sure to mention the name of the accused, Muhammad Asrar, and further notes that he is from Pakistan. Considering most news outlets have carefully covered violent, anti-American protests in Pakistan, it is likely AGS was hoping that by noting Mr. Asrar`s name and homeland, it would have a better chance of successfully promoting its anti-gun show campaign by illegitimately exploiting fears over legitimate potential threats to America.

AGS, along with other anti-gun organizations, has disgracefully attempted to promote anti-gun legislation by exploiting our nation`s concern over terrorism while showing complete disregard for the facts. Prior to September 11, AGS and its anti-gun collaborators falsely characterized legal gun shows as causing "guns to land in the hands of criminals and children." But as crass political opportunists, the AGS campaign has shifted to shamelessly capitalizing on the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians who lost their lives at the hands of terrorists who hijacked airplanes with box cutters and knives. At the same time, they are turning a blind eye to the obvious sentiment of an American public seeking fewer—not more—obstacles to effective self defense.

Please be sure to contact your governor and urge him to reject any attempt by AGS or other anti-gun organizations to exploit the September 11 attacks. Tell him to oppose any effort to end legal gun shows as we know them today—especially those efforts callously promoted by AGS and its allies. You can find contact information for your Governor in the Blue Pages (Government Listings) of your phone book, or by using our "Write Your Reps" tool.

In addition, be sure to remind your federal lawmakers that 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.) (and supported by AGS), have no place in a legitimate congressional debate on the threat of terrorism. 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 find additional 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.