Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Mourning Another Second Amendment Hero: Rep. Harold L. Volkmer, R.I.P

Friday, April 22, 2011

The NRA, and American gun owners, lost a loyal friend on April 16, 2011, when former U.S. Rep. Harold L. Volkmer died in his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri. He had just celebrated his 80th birthday, and was pleased to read the hundreds of cards he had received from grateful gun owners.

He had lived in their service, and he died in their service. Soon after the January meeting of the NRA Board of Directors, he was hospitalized for months with life-threatening pneumonia.  That didn’t stop him from chairing a meeting of the NRA Nominating Committee by telephone from his bed, or continuing his work as a trustee of the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund. He had completed his last recommendation to the other trustees on the day he passed on.

After serving his community and his country as a prosecutor, soldier and state legislator, Rep. Volkmer was elected in 1976 to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served for twenty years. His dedication to protecting the rights of gun owners was so strong that, upon his passing, it was the first thing mentioned in stories from anti-gun media outlets like the New York Times and National Public Radio.  The Washington Post described Volkmer as the “voice of gun owners.”

Rep. Volkmer’s greatest service to gun owners was 25 years ago, when he pushed the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 through the U.S. House. FOPA was a response to waves of abuses of firearm owners, collectors, and dealers under the original Gun Control Act of 1968.

FOPA was drafted to end BATF abuses, and to make numerous other amendments favoring gun owners. This was a huge legislative undertaking, especially since the leadership of the U.S. House at the time was strongly opposed to the proposal. Speaker Tip O’Neill and key Judiciary Committee members, Chairman Peter Rodino and Subcommittee Chairman William Hughes, actively worked to defeat the bill—Rodino proclaimed it “dead on arrival”—and prevented it from moving to the House floor.

To get around them, Rep. Volkmer filed a discharge petition, which requires the signatures of a majority of the entire House. In the 25 years before, only seven petitions had succeeded. Rep. Volkmer worked at rounding up signatures and rallying members to revolt against their own leadership, and after months of work got the necessary 218 signatures.

The leadership fought back by reporting out a rival bill that was greatly watered down. When the two bills came up for a vote, Rep. Volkmer led the floor fight for gun owners. When the dust settled, his bill had been substituted for the leadership bill, and passed by a huge margin – 292 to 130. Even more impressive, he had won over a majority of his fellow Democrats, 131 of whom defied their leadership and voted for his bill.

Rep. Volkmer’s passing, coming within weeks of the death of FOPA’s Senate sponsor, James A. McClure, provides a somber memorial for the 25th anniversary of the the landmark legislation they both championed, and which will always be known to their friends as the McClure-Volkmer Act.

After leaving Congress, Rep. Volkmer was elected to the NRA Board of Directors, where he served for twelve years before being elected to NRA’s Executive Council. When he passed on, he was chairman of our Nominating Committee.  He had previously served as vice chairman of the Legislative Policy Committee and Hearings Committee, and as chairman of the NRA Civil Rights Legal Defense Fund.

Harold Volkmer was a leader of the movement for firearm rights and a hero to gun owners everywhere. He was also a personal friend to many in the movement, and a devoted husband to his wife Dian, who was always at his side during NRA Board meetings. Condolences should be sent to:

Dian Volkmer
2107 Crescent Drive
Hannibal, MO  63401

TRENDING NOW

Monday, August 19, 2019

Florida Alert! "Assault Weapons" Ban Amendment Bans ALL SEMIAUTOMATIC RIFLES AND SHOTGUNS

The so-called "assault weapons" ban that is proposed for a constitutional amendment to be on the 2020 Election Ballot bans the possession of: “any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun CAPABLE of holding more than ten (10) rounds ...

Another Week, Another Democrat Presidential Contender Out to Round Up America's Guns

News  

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Another Week, Another Democrat Presidential Contender Out to Round Up America's Guns

A smart person learns from his mistakes. An even smarter person learns from the mistakes of others.  Beto O’Rourke, an unemployed Texan running for president, must not be too smart.           

No, Joe, Your Gun Ban Didn’t Work

News  

Sunday, August 18, 2019

No, Joe, Your Gun Ban Didn’t Work

Joe Biden has been out on the primary campaign trail working hard. Maybe a little too hard. “We got to let them know who we are,” he recently told a crowd of supporters at the Iowa State ...

Amnesty International’s Desperate Measure

News  

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Amnesty International’s Desperate Measure

There are some odd dynamics in international relations. Countries in which people are not free serve on the UN Human Rights Council. Political considerations guide every action.  Of course, the NRA is a single-issue organization so ...

NRA Member Berated for Carrying Firearm

News  

Friday, August 2, 2019

NRA Member Berated for Carrying Firearm

NRA member Darrell Kennedy was on vacation with his family at Yellowstone National Park earlier this month when an anti-gun vacationer snapped a photo of his holstered firearm and tweeted out a hate message. “Sat ...

Sparking Dialogue or Sparking Joy: Competing Views on Gun “Buyback” Initiatives

News  

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sparking Dialogue or Sparking Joy: Competing Views on Gun “Buyback” Initiatives

The Christian Science Monitor describes itself as “an independent international news organization” that wants to “help you to see news events as starting points for constructive conversations.” Its editorial board recently published an article, A seed for society’s ...

Bill Clinton Touts Failed Gun Ban With Bogus Info

News  

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Bill Clinton Touts Failed Gun Ban With Bogus Info

Bill and Hillary Clinton just don’t draw like they used to. Shunned by much of his own party, (described by one Vanity Fair commentator as “2020’s bubonic plague”) the former president has been relegated to providing lazy ...

Governor Abbott Signs Ten Pro-Second Amendment Bills into Law

Monday, June 17, 2019

Governor Abbott Signs Ten Pro-Second Amendment Bills into Law

Governor Greg Abbott has now signed all of the NRA-supported legislation which the Texas Legislature sent him during the 2019 session.

California: Appropriations Committees Send Bills to the Suspense File

Thursday, August 15, 2019

California: Appropriations Committees Send Bills to the Suspense File

On Monday, August 12, the Senate Appropriations Committee sent AB 1254 to the suspense file and rescheduled AB 1669 to be heard next Monday, August 19. On Wednesday, August 14, the Assembly Appropriations Committee sent SB 172 ...

Tell Your U.S. Senators and Representative to Oppose Gun Control

News  

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Tell Your U.S. Senators and Representative to Oppose Gun Control

In the wake of the recent two criminal mass attacks, a number of gun control proposals have begun to circulate in our nation’s capital. None of these proposals would have prevented the recent tragedies, but they all ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

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.