With the 109th Congress set to convene in January 2005, and legislative business to begin shortly thereafter following the Presidential Inauguration on January 20, it is critical that, upon their arrival to Congress, lawmakers are greeted with phone calls, letters, and e-mails from constituents communicating their position on gun-related issues. We are billing this week that Congress returns as "Firearm Awareness Week."
With many lawmakers taking office for the first time, or having never cast a vote on a federal gun-related issue, NOW is the time to formulate a strategy for contacting your elected officials in Washington so they know with clarity where their constituents stand on these important issues. Bills not passed in the 108th Congress need to be re-introduced in the 109th Congress. Here is a summary of some of our outstanding priorities from the 108th Congress (bill numbers may change next year) that we will be pursuing in the coming year:
S. 1805 ("Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act"): Legislation will halt predatory lawsuits against the gun industry. As we did in 2004, we will oppose all anti-gun amendments. One of our top priorities next year will be to ensure passage of a "clean" lawsuit bill. Please continue to contact your U.S. Senators in support of legislation to halt these reckless lawsuits without any "poison pill" anti-gun amendments. This bill passed in the House last year, and had majority support in the U.S. Senate (and is supported by President Bush), but was torpedoed by anti-gun zealots, including former Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), who helped his fellow anti-gun Senators attach a number of anti-gun amendments to the underlying measure.
H.R. 3193 ("District of Columbia Personal Protection Act"): This bill would restore the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding District residents and allow them to protect their families and homes with a firearm. This legislation passed overwhelmingly in the House in September, but wasn`t acted upon by the Senate.
H.R. 4048 ("Firearm Commerce Modernization Act"): This proposal will update federal gun law to take advantage of modern technology. With all retail sales now requiring an FBI background check, passage of this bill would allow for interstate gun sales, provided these sales comply with laws in both the dealer`s and the buyer`s states. The legislation would also remove convoluted limits on licensed dealers, allowing them to conduct the same transactions in person that they currently perform with one another by mail.
H.R. 4126 ("Cockpit Security Technical Corrections and Improvements Act"): This bill would expedite the training and arming of qualified airline personnel to defend against terrorism as Federal Flight Deck Officers (FFDO). Implementation of this program to date has been unacceptably slow. Under this measure, experienced, trained pilots would be armed immediately on a provisional basis, and the training of all pilots who wish to participate in the FFDO would be streamlined. The bill would also allow use of qualified private facilities for training and requalification of FFDOs.
H.R. 3801 ("First Amendment Restoration Act"): With the onerous "gag order" placed upon NRA during the most critical period of an election cycle, H.R. 3801 would restore the First Amendment right of groups like NRA to fully participate in the election process.
For additional information on these bills, visit www.NRAILA.org, or contact ILA`s Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683. To find contact information for your elected officials, go to www.NRAILA.org and choose the "Write Your Representatives" feature. Please know that contact information for newly-elected Members of Congress may not have been added to this on-line feature yet, so if you are going to be represented by a new U.S. Representative or Senator in 2005, and you need contact information, contact the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683 for assistance. The general contact information for the House and Senate, where you can address correspondence or call to be transferred to the offices of your elected officials, is:
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20150
In addition the "Write Your Representatives" feature, you may also visit http://congress.org to send an e-mail message. For additional assistance on effectively communicating with your elected officials, please visit www.NRAILA.org and under the ‘Write Your Representatives" tool, choose "Tips for Communicating with your Lawmakers."
Also, with the Clinton gun ban now rightly relegated to the legislative graveyard, expect anti-gun state legislators to introduce a barrage of state level gun bans. We will keep you apprised of any such developments in your state in future issues of the Grassroots Alert so you may take the corresponding action.
Working together, and with you continued assistance, we can ensure we hit the ground running in 2005 with our efforts to transform our election successes this year into legislative victories next year. Please contact your elected officials in Washington over the next few weeks on these issues, ideally sending a separate communication on each legislative priority (utilizing written letters, e-mails, and phone calls).
And as always, please be sure to share this information with your family, friends, and fellow firearm owners so they may contact their legislators in Congress as well. Thank you in advance for your activism as we ramp up our "Firearm Awareness Week" campaign!