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Ninth Circuit Does It Again

Monday, December 8, 2003

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is once again up to its political shenanigans. A three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based court recently reinstated a wrongful death lawsuit against the gun industry, that had been previously tossed out by a Los Angeles federal judge before it went to trial. The suit, Ileto v. Glock, seeks to blame Glock and others for the horrendous criminal actions of deranged white supremacist Buford Furrow. In 1999, Furrow shot and killed postal worker Joseph Ileto, and wounded three children at a Jewish day care center in California. What is not often reported is that, while a Glock pistol was used in Furrow`s heinous crime, the gun was originally sold to a police department, which subsequently sold it to a licensed dealer, who in turn sold it to a collector, who finally sold it to Furrow.

Commenting on the case, Glock attorney Christopher Renzullie asked the obvious question, "How are we supposed to monitor a gun after we sell it to a law enforcement agency?" Echoing this frustrated sentiment, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh quipped, "According to the Ninth Circuit, Glock has to dictate to the police how to handle [gun sales], because they would know better than the police how to prevent crime."

The only glimmer of rational and equitable reasoning to come out of the reinstatement case came in the form of a well-reasoned dissent by Senior Judge Cynthia Hall. "I understand the majority`s desire to ensure that the appellants have their day in court," Hall wrote. "But I do not concur in the majority`s opinion because I believe that it runs afoul of some of our most basic duties as federal judges....[we] are required to apply state law whether we agree with it or not."

This case dramatically underscores the urgent need for passage of S. 659/S. 1806, the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act."

The House version of this bill— H.R. 1036—was passed last April by an overwhelming vote of 285-140, and has the support of the White House.

Yet, despite assurances of a timely vote and broad bipartisan support, S. 659/S. 1806 has become stalled in the Senate. Thanks to the dedicated grassroots efforts of millions of NRA members and gun owners across the country, S. 659/S. 1806 is now widely acknowledged as having enough votes to overcome a filibuster by anti-gun Senators. But we can`t stop a filibuster until one starts, and the process can`t begin until the bill reaches the Senate floor for debate.

On November 6, pro-gun leaders in the Senate attempted to bring the bill to the floor with a proposed "consent agreement" to govern the length of debate and the number of amendments each side could order. Anti-gun Senators sent their representative to the floor to object. After much discussion, and failing to gain "consent," Senate leaders moved to other business, but vowed to bring S. 659/S. 1806 to a vote early next year, without regard to the objections from the anti-gun corps. That sets us up for a full-blown brawl in the new year.

In the end, it all boils down to politics, but you can help break the logjam. In the coming weeks, your Senators will likely be traveling around your state, holding town hall meetings, where they can report on what they`ve been doing in Washington, and take questions from their constituents. These meetings offer a tremendous opportunity for you to personally voice your strong support for S. 659/S. 1806. Your Senators need to know that this bill is about saving jobs and protecting our rights. If you can`t attend a meeting, send a letter, an e-mail, or make a phone call to your Senators` offices. Tell them it`s time to stop playing politics with the Second Amendment. Urge them to fully support S. 659/S. 1806 without any anti-gun amendments! Ask them to do everything in their power to end these meritless lawsuits and ensure that this essential legislation is approved as written. Tell them it`s time to pass S. 659/S. 1806! Make no mistake—with your help, we will win this fight and see this critical legislation signed into law.

In addition, please contact your Senators and your U.S. Representative and urge them to cosponsor and support S. 1414 and H.R. 3193—the Senate and House versions of the "District of Columbia Personal Protection Act." This important legislation seeks to restore the constitutionally-guaranteed Second Amendment rights of the residents of the District of Columbia, which has once again reclaimed the title of "murder capital" of the United States.

Finally, please continue to urge your U.S. Representative and Senators to oppose current legislation seeking to expand the 1994 Clinton gun ban—H.R. 2038, S. 1431, and S. 1034. You can find contact information for your elected officials by using the "Write Your Representatives" tool at www.NRAILA.org, or you can call your U.S. Senators at (202) 224-3121 and your U.S. Representative at (202) 225-3121.

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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.