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Chris W. Cox's Political Report: Emergency Powers

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Chris W. Cox's Political Report: Emergency Powers

In all 50 states and in the U.S. Congress, we are pushing legislation to amend existing emergency-powers statutes to guarantee that local authorities never again attempt the confiscation of lawfully owned firearms.

With Thanksgiving around the corner and the smell of hunting season in the air, I am reminded of the accomplishments we have earned together this year, for which all gun owners can be thankful.

At the top of the list is our unprecedented victory in the U.S. Senate on July 29, when it passed S. 397, the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act," by the overwhelming bipartisan majority of 65-31. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita delayed consideration of this critical bill in the U.S. House, but I remain confident that we will move it to the president's desk for enactment into law before the end of this year-possibly even before you read these words.

Passage of S. 397 was a major accomplishment, and merely one item at the top of a long list of other legislative achievements, both in the Congress and state legislatures. All of our victories are strung together by one common thread-the unyielding grassroots support of our army of Second Amendment defenders. Without the critical grassroots activism of NRA members like you, in every community across the nation, none of our shared accomplishments would be possible.

It was your commitment that we defended when we rushed into federal court in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Weeks after the disaster, ill-advised local authorities ordered the confiscation of firearms from the law-abiding, stating that only police and military were entitled to possess firearms. We put boots on the ground, located victims of the illegal gun seizures and brought them into court to demand a halt to the confiscations. Within a day, the court had ordered an end to the seizures, and directed that all firearms be returned to their rightful owners.

Once confronted by NRA, the local authorities denied even issuing the confiscation orders. They knew they had started a fight they couldn't win, so they turned tail and ran. The rule of law prevailed-and not just for residents of New Orleans. The court decision set an enormous precedent, putting all anti-gun officials on notice that no disaster, no matter how large, would ever serve as a permission slip to defy the Constitution. This victory, too, was yours to share.

Part of your commitment is the knowledge that our work is never done, as we take stock of 2005 and look toward 2006. In all 50 states and in the U.S. Congress, we are pushing legislation to amend existing emergency-powers statutes to guarantee that local authorities never again attempt the confiscation of lawfully owned firearms.

And we're working to extend your right of self-defense, regardless of the circumstance in which you find yourself. That's the concept behind the "castle doctrine"-that your right to self-defense doesn't end at the door of your home or business. This model legislation, now adopted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, eliminates any "duty to retreat" from a violent criminal attacker and absolves the victim of legal liability from any injuries or damages suffered by the criminal as a result of their attack. Of course, we will also be making the push to convert the last holdout states to adopt Right-to-Carry as well.

We will also be defending your rights against attack by faceless, multinational corporations that attempt to strip away your constitutional rights the moment you leave your home for work. Workplace-protection legislation will prohibit companies from dismissing or disciplining employees who keep firearms secured in their vehicles while working. Employment doesn't mean your right to self-defense can be suspended while driving to work, and it doesn't mean you can be effectively prohibited from hunting before or after your workday. But there are still thousands of companies that do not understand these simple truths. We'll put these laws on the books to make it perfectly clear.

More for hunters: We'll continue working for "No-Net-Loss" bills in state legislatures. This legislation prohibits the closure of hunting lands until and unless an equivalent amount of suitable hunting land is made avaILAble first. And we are also working to protect shooting ranges, hunting clubs and gun stores from government seizures that are now allowed under the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing the seizure of private property for private development under "eminent domain."

And don't forget the elections for 33 U.S. senators, 435 members of the U.S. House and nearly 10,000 races for state and local office! Only by continuing to work shoulder-to-shoulder will we move forward across the many fronts on which we will be fighting. But with the knowledge that you, your fellow NRA members and like-minded compatriots will be in the trenches together, I am confident that we will continue to prevail-and for that, I thank you.



Emergency Powers Laws

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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.