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Chris Cox`s Political Report, January 2004

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

POLITICAL REPORT

CHRIS W. COX, NRA-ILA Executive Director

It`s time to tell both of your U.S. senators to stop playing politics with the Second Amendment. Tell them it`s time to pass S. 659/S. 1805. Make no mistake--with your help, we will win this fight and see this critical legislation signed into law.

elcome to the first issue of "Political Report," a new monthly report to the readers of America`s 1st Freedom. In this space, I will bring you breaking news and the latest developments directly from the front lines of our political and legislative battlegrounds across the country and in Washington, D.C. These updates will bring you the best and worst of the political process, with a degree of detail that will satisfy the most voracious observer of the Second Amendment debate.

That sets us up for a full-blown brawl in late February or early March. When it comes, we`ll be ready.

It was my hope that I could use this space to celebrate Senate passage of S. 659/S. 1805, a critical reform bill to block the scourge of baseless lawsuits that currently plagues the firearm industry. As you know, the House version of this bill passed last April by an overwhelming vote of 285-140, and had the support of the White House. It disappoints me, then, to report that this first column will instead outline the reasons that the bill has become stalled in the Senate, at least for the moment.

At this writing, the situation remains very fluid, and there`s still a possibility that the Senate could pass S. 659/S. 1805 before it goes into recess for the year. But the only opportunity remaining to pass the bill this year is appropriations legislation, which funds government operations. If S. 659/S. 1805 is passed as part of a spending bill, it will represent a major pushback by pro-gun senators against the obstructionist tactics of the dedicated corps of anti-gun senators who blocked consideration of the bill in early November.

Thanks to the dedicated grassroots efforts of millions of NRA members and gun owners across the country, S. 659/S. 1805 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.

As the Senate continued its appropriations work at a snail`s pace in early November, pro-gun leaders in the Senate launched their plan to bring the bill to the floor. Senate leadership made their move on Thursday, Nov. 6, by coming to the floor with a proposed "consent agreement" to govern the length of debate and the number of amendments. Such agreements are necessary to bring legislation to the floor without suffering many days of delay, but a single senator can block the agreement.Senate leaders proposed six hours of debate, with two amendments on either side. Anti-gun senators sent their representative to the floor to object. Senate leaders then proposed eight hours of debate, with three amendments per side, but it was still not enough, nor was the final offer of 10 hours debate with four amendments on either side.

Please contact your senators today
and tell them it`s time to pass S. 659/S. 1805!

For contact information, call the Grassroots Division
toll-free at (800) 392-8683, or use the
"Write Your Reps".

It became clear to Senate leaders that the objections would keep coming no matter how generous the offer. And with only days remaining in the session, Senate leaders simply couldn`t afford to waste several days listening to a filibuster. So they moved on to other business but vowed to bring S. 659/S. 1805 to a vote early in 2004 without regard to the objections from the anti gun corps. That sets us up for a full-blown brawl in late February or early March. When it comes, we`ll be ready.

In the end, it all boils down to politics, but you can help break the logjam. When you read this column, your two senators will likely be traveling around your state, holding town hall meetings and other opportunities for your voice to be heard. 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 or make a phone call to your senator`s office. It`s time to tell both of your u.s. senators to stop playing politics with the Second Amendment. Tell them it`s time to pass S. 659/S. 1805. Make no mistake--with your help, we will win this fight and see this critical legislation signed into law.

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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.