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State of the States

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The new frontiers in the battle to protect our rights are being carved out in the 50 state capitals. The state legislatures are the incubators for issues that will soon come to Washington, so it's even more critical that we kill the noxious spores of restrictions on our rights before they spread.
The national media is fixated on the massive transfer of power now underway in the nation's capital. Americans voted for divided government in the 2006 elections, and now we have it. What this means for the Second Amendment is unclear at this point.

As I have noted before, we have many friends in the Democratic Party, just as we have dedicated foes among Republicans. Our issue has never been partisan, but the day-to-day mechanics of the legislative process now most certainly will be. Each party is calculating its strategy with the primary objective of either solidifying its gains or reversing its losses. The question is how this dynamic will play out in legislative debate.

Only time will tell, so here at NRA-ILA we are preparing for all possibilities. We are finalizing our proactive agenda of new objectives, we are moving forward with the issues left unresolved by the previous Congress, and we are readying our defenses for battles over issues both old and new.

The battles we are likely to see early are the same issues we have fought most recently--notably, the efforts to destroy gun-owner privacy by allowing fishing expeditions into BATFE trace data. New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is obsessed with removing the limitations that Congress has placed on this data, so he can march forward with his campaign of new bogus lawsuits against the industry. Bloomberg and his cadre of 100-something mayors descended on Congress in late January, demanding that these restrictions be lifted so they can expand their fifth column of phony lawsuits, perhaps going so far as to sue individual gun owners. If you have ever purchased a firearm at retail, your privacy rights are at stake.

So, in Congress, what's new is likely to be what's old, at least at the beginning. But the new frontiers in the battle to protect our rights are being carved out far from Washington, in the 50 state capitals. The state legislatures are the incubators for issues that will soon come to Washington, so it's even more critical that we kill the noxious spores of restrictions on our rights before they spread. Just as importantly, the states are where we will nurture the cultures of positive laws to spread throughout the country.

In all 50 states, we are moving forward to establish or refine Castle Doctrine laws that codify your right to protect yourself from violent attack wherever you have a legal right to be. If you are forced to exercise your right of self-defense, the Castle Doctrine also prevents the criminal from suing you for "damages" or other bogus claims. Of course, your right to self-defense is a paper tiger if your employer can prevent you from keeping a firearm with you in your travels. That's why we are fighting for workplace protection laws to keep employers from banning your possessions from your property-your firearm from your locked vehicle, in most instances. And in all 50 states, we will work to establish or refine laws that prevent authorities from confiscating firearms from lawful citizens in times of emergency-precisely when you need them the most.

To find the most up-to-date political and legislative information about Second Amendment and hunting issues in your state, visit www.nraila.org.
BY CHRIS W. COX
NRA-ILA Executive Director

Of course, the right to keep a firearm in your vehicle will not protect you once you get out of your car. That's why we'll keep fighting to establish Right-to-Carry in the few states that don't have it and to improve Right-to-Carry laws in more than a dozen other states that "need improvement," as a grade school teacher might say. And your rights don't end at the state border, so we're working to increase and improve recognition and reciprocity agreements in the states that remain.

In eight states, we're establishing or strengthening statewide preemption, to keep local officials from enacting a pointless patchwork of restrictions that varies by the mile. And we're pushing to repeal restrictive schemes where they exist. For hunters, we're working to remove arbitrary restrictions and regulations that can trip you up in the field and to protect and expand hunting opportunities against the seemingly endless sprawl of commercial development.

Just about every state is included in our roster of things to do. On the flip side of the coin, just about every state is contemplating new restrictions on your rights as well-states you might not expect, perhaps even your own.

Twenty states are considering gun bans of some kind. On this list are Louisiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Texas, plus 16 others. Twelve other states are contemplating

high-tech registration of firearms through so-called "ballistic imaging." Again here are Louisiana, Texas and Pennsylvania, plus South Carolina. Louisiana and Pennsylvania are also pondering whether to ban gun shows, and they are joined by Utah, Virginia, North Carolina and Mississippi, plus five others.

The anti-gun standard of licensing and registration is being hoisted in Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina, along with five other states. Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maine are debating whether to ration your rights by limiting gun purchases, along with three others. And Alaska, New Hampshire and Texas are moving to roll back their Right-to-Carry laws, along with seven others.

The list goes on, and it also keeps growing. In this debate, the only thing that is static and unyielding is the truth that our rights are constantly under attack on a shifting battlefield of many fronts. When it is quiet in Washington, the states are afire--and not just the states you would suspect. The legislature of your state is no doubt considering one or more of the proposals noted above. Even if it's not, your mayor is probably involved.

The battle is always far-ranging, and it touches all of us--in our homes, our cars, on our streets, and at our places of employment. Don't let the battle sneak up on you. Check our website frequently at www.nraila.org, and sign up for free email alerts to signal when the battle comes to you. It isn't far away, if it hasn't already begun.

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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.