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Congress Asks Rumsfeld To Prevent Demil Controversy

Saturday, April 6, 2002

Two letters—one carrying the signatures of 16 U.S. Senators, the other bearing the signatures of 24 U.S. Representatives—have been sent to Department of Defense (DoD) Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, asking the Secretary to ensure that budget language similar to Section 1062 of last year`s "National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2002" is not submitted this year. Section 1062 would have given the Secretary of Defense the authority to require "demilitarization" of any "significant military equipment" that has ever been owned by the DoD, which would include all firearms (such as the venerable M1, M1 Carbine, and Model 1911, as well as all Civilian Marksmanship Program rifles, even "sporterized" surplus bolt-action Springfields!), firearm barrels, ammunition, and gun powder. "Demilitarization" is the term for rendering such items permanently inoperable, and Sec. 1062 would have provided for this action to be carried out either by the owner or a third party with the owner paying the cost, or by the DoD.

Both letters echoed the warning that granting the Secretary of Defense such a broad new authority raised serious concerns over a number of property rights issues, including fair compensation and due process in seizing private property, and cautioned that it could "readily have become grounds for bureaucratic over-reach." The letters also emphasized the fact that the pro-gun community reacted to Sec. 1062 with an overwhelming grassroots uprising, and both declared, "As a result, many of us heard more from our constituents on this issue than on any other under discussion" during last year`s debate over spending for the DoD. The letters were signed by both Republicans and Democrats, and requested from Rumsfeld "assurances that this provision will not resurface this year in the Administration`s proposals for the Department of Defense."

We will be sure to post any developments on this front, and if you would like to know which lawmakers signed these letters, please call the Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683. While we appreciate the efforts of all who took part in this effort, our special thanks go out to U.S. Senator Bob Smith (R-N.H.), who took the lead in the Senate, and U.S. Representative Gary Miller (R-Calif.), who took the lead in the House.

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