ASHCROFT CALLS FOR "TOUGHER ENFORCEMENT," NOT NEW LAWS
On Wednesday,U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft appeared onCNN`s "Larry King Live," and spoke of his support of enforcing existing laws against violent criminals who misuse firearms, rather than passing new "gun control" laws. Ashcroft told King, "I think we`ve got enough laws on the books. I think what we need is tougher enforcement." This appearance was the first opportunity for the Attorney General to make public statements since he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate last week, after one of the most contentious confirmation battles the Senate has ever seen.
Ashcroft said that under his stewardship, theBush Administration`s Department of Justice would work to increase federal prosecutions of "people who use guns in commission of a crime." This, of course, would be in stark contrast to the Clinton-Gore Administration, which had an abysmal record when it came to prosecuting violations of federal gun laws. The new Attorney General stated that he plans to increase federal involvement in prosecuting criminals who misuse firearms by supporting programs such as the NRA-backed "Project Exile" prosecution model that was developed in Richmond, Virginia. "Project Exile"—a cooperative effort among local, state, and federal law enforcement and prosecutors—targets violent felons who violate firearm laws, then seeks the most stringent penalties available. The program has been credited with a dramatic reduction in Richmond`s homicide and gun-related crime rates, which Ashcroft pointed out, and he continued by commenting that he hoped to take "Project Exile" nationwide.
It`s certainly good to see a U.S. Attorney General who is interested in aggressively targeting violent criminals, rather than constantly harassing law-abiding citizens. Even more heartening, though, is knowing that we now have a U.S. Attorney General who supports the individual right to arms. Ashcroft took the time during his appearance to remind King that, "Law-abiding citizens have a right, under our Constitution, to have firearms." The last stated Justice Department official position was that "the Second Amendment does not extend an individual right to keep and bear arms."
U.S. HOUSE AND SENATE
TAKE UP BANKRUPTCY REFORM
This week, the U.S. House and Senate took up the issue of reforming our nation`s bankruptcy laws. And while this is normally not an NRA-related issue, gun-ban extremists tried to attach anti-gun language to similar legislation last year. We must be prepared for a similar strategy on their part this year. Last year, in a show of bipartisan support for the rule of law, and a rejection of the anti-gun agenda of reckless lawsuits against firearm manufacturers, the U.S. Senate defeatedSenator Carl Levin`s (D-Mich.) amendment that would deny gun makers equal protection under our nation`s bankruptcy laws. Levin`s attack on the firearms industry was nothing more than a direct attempt to assist in crushing gun makers under the relentless pressure of costly, frivolous litigation. We expect that a similar amendment will be offered again this year.
Please be sure to contact both your U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative and remind them that gun makers are entitled to the same legal protections due every other lawful industry. Tell them there is no rational basis to exclude firearms companies from bankruptcy law, and to do so would be patently unfair. Urge your lawmakers to oppose any amendments that would deny gun makers equal protection under our nation`s bankruptcy laws. The bill number for bankruptcy reform legislation in the Senate is S. 220, and in the House it is H.R. 333. You can call your U.S. Senators at (202) 224-3121, and your U.S. Representatives at (202) 225-3121. For those on the Internet, you can find additional contact information for your federal lawmakers by using the "Write Your Reps" tool at www.NRAILA.org.
TWISTED IRONY FOR MMM?
The February 2 edition of theWashington Post reported that a D.C. Superior Court jury foundBarbara Graham guilty of "trying to avenge her son`s death by shooting a young man she blamed for the killing." Graham, 49, was convicted on February 1 of nine separate counts, all stemming from a January 26, 2000, shooting that left 23-year-oldKikko Smith paralyzed from the waist down. The "grieving mother" was accused of having shot Smith because she thought he was responsible for the shooting death of her own son,Le`Pierre Clemons, although prosecutors say Smith was not responsible. Clemons had been killed in 1999.
But what seems like a tragic story of misguided revenge doesn`t end there. According to aWorldNetDaily (an online news service you can find at www.wnd.com) article from February 5, Barbara Graham is not just a "bereaved mother," but she also "spoke out against gun violence and memorialized shooting victims" at last year`s Mother`s Day event in Washington, D.C.—an event orchestrated by the so-called"Million" Mom March (MMM). Graham, according to the online article, got involved with a D.C.-based group called "Mothers on the Move Spiritually" after her son was killed, and this group was one of the sponsors of the MMM event. Thus far, the MMM seems to be silent about what can only be considered a rather tragic story filled with ironic twists, butMary Ann Smith, Kikko Smith`s mother, commented, "From a mother to a mother, she (Graham) knew better. You can`t tell the kids to stop the violence with the mothers running around like this."
A LOOK AT THE STATES
On Tuesday, February 13, at 8:30 a.m., the House Committee on Retirement & Government Operations will consider two NRA-backed bills. HB 2213 seeks to expand the current reciprocity statute to recognize Right to Carry permits issued by any state, while also simplifying the renewal process for Right to Carry permits, and HB 2218 seeks to allow Right to Carry permit holders to carry firearms for self-defense in restaurants that are licensed to serve alcohol. Call members of the committee and/or attend Tuesday`s hearing in House Hearing Room 3 of the State Capitol and urge them to vote for HB 2213 & HB 2218. Also on Tuesday, at 1:30 p.m, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider two NRA-opposed bills. SB 1549 seeks to mandate the use of trigger locks or other locking devices on all firearms in every home—thus rendering a firearm useless for self-defense. It also would allow holding adults criminally responsible if a minor gains access to a firearm that has not been secured in a manner approved by the government and injures or kills another person—even though Arizona law already provides penalties for reckless endangerment, under which an adult found grossly negligent in the storage of a firearm under certain circumstances can be prosecuted for a felony offense. SB 1566 seeks to mandate that all private firearm transfers at gun shows include a federal background check—even transfers between relatives, neighbors, and close friends. Call members of the committee and/or attend Tuesday`s hearing in Senate Hearing Room 1 of the State Capitol and urge them to oppose SB 1549 & SB 1566.
SB 190, which seeks to repeal the minimum 10-year sentence for brandishing a firearm while committing a felony, will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee this Tuesday. SB 190 would be a major step backwards in the battle to ensure that individuals who commit violent crimes are severely punished. Contact members of the committee at (501) 682-6211 and urge them to oppose SB 190. For a list of committee members, please contact NRA-ILA Grassroots at (800) 392-8683.
Both SB 83, the NRA-backed Right to Carry bill, and SB 160, the NRA-opposed "Negligent Storage" bill, are scheduled to be heard before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. Contact committee members and urge then to support SB 83 and oppose SB 160. For a list of committee members, please contact NRA-ILA Grassroots at (800) 392-8683.
The House Government & Urban Affairs Committee approved HB 126, NRA-backed shooting range protection legislation. The bill now moves to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. Also, the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee passed HB 277, NRA-backed Right to Carry legislation, with "no recommendation" to the House Judiciary Committee. Call members of the House Judiciary Committee at (505) 986-4410 and urge them to support both HB 126 & HB 277. For a list of committee members, please call NRA-ILA Grassroots at (800) 392-8683.
This Monday, the House State Affairs Committee will hear HB 1239, the NRA-backed Right to Carry reciprocity bill. Contact members of the committee this weekend at their "cracker barrel" meetings, leave a phone message at (605) 773-3851, and e-mail them at House@state.sd.us—just type the representative`s last name in the subject line of your message—and urge them to support HB 1239. For a list of committee members, please call NRA-ILA Grassroots at (800) 392-8683.