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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 8, No. 0 2/16/2001

NEW GROUP, SAME OLD LIES

The most recent salvo in the war against our Right to Keep and Bear Arms was fired by one of the newer groups to enter the fray—the fledgling anti-gun organization, "Americans for Gun Safety" (AGS). The organization, which refers to itself as a "centrist, non-partisan group," was launched last year with heavy funding from billionaire Andrew J. McKelvey of Monster.com, and has begun running ads that renew the attack on gun shows. And while the ads claim the group recognizes "the right to own a gun," the truth is, AGS is nothing more than a rehash of many of the existing anti-gun organizations.

So what is the true agenda of AGS? Although it clearly wants to create the illusion that it is somehow different from the extremists at HCI, the truth is, the roots of AGS are firmly embedded in HCI. McKelvey, a former board member of HCI, formed AGS after apparently becoming disillusioned with the ineffectiveness of HCI. And materials distributed at a recent AGS meeting clearly highlighted its real "top national priority"—"passage of licensing and/or registration in the next Congress." This goal, of course, is a mirror image of one of HCI`s publicly stated top goals. Furthermore, AGS has thus far worked to expand its base by affiliating not with "centrist" groups, but with radical anti-gun groups at the state and local levels. In fact, the majority of the groups that have affiliated with AGS are longtime HCI affiliates. These affiliated groups have yet to adopt the softer facade of AGS, as they promote extremely anti-gun messages such as:

"Remove any guns from your home" -- Women Against Gun Violence
"The second amendment of the United States Constitution has nothing to do whatsoever with personal use of firearms"--Citizens of Arizona to Prevent Gun Violence
"The best way to protect your family is not to keep a gun in the home"--Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence

But AGS is misleading in more than just its stated agenda. A visit to the AGS websitewill show a "softer" image than you normally see from most of the other anti-gun organization. However, further investigation of the AGS site reveals it is nothing more than just another anti-gun extremist organization. In a press release from October 3, 2000, McKelvey himself claimed he wanted to "present...unbiased facts," but the AGS website exudes anti-gun bias. The website includes sections on gun laws, gun deaths, and the frequency of firearm-related fatalities, which are either extremely misleading, downright inaccurate, and sometimes both. Furthermore, nowhere does the site discuss our Right to Keep and Bear Arms (other than casual comments such as "we have the right to own a gun"), nor does it mention the benefits of safe, responsible firearms ownership—especially the estimated 2.5 million defensive uses of firearms that take place every year. And while the site is riddled with claims that it wishes to "promote gun safety," nowhere can one find a section that refers to an actual safety program, like the ones developed by NRA that reach nearly three-quarters of a million responsible gun owners every year.

The ad campaign AGS launched this week targets gun shows, spouting the myth that there is a "Gun Show Loophole." This, of course, is the same lie that other anti-gun extremists have been spouting for some time. The fact is that the same federal, state, and local laws that regulate firearm sales at gun shops remain in effect and are fully enforceable at any gun show. The AGS ad claims that background checks are not required at gun shows. In fact, federal law requires any Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder to run the same National Instant Check System (NICS) check on the transfer of a firearm that takes place at a gun show that he is required to run at his place of business. The AGS ad also claims that "convicted felons are buying guns at gun shows." In fact, a Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report found that only 1.7% of federal inmates who possessed a firearm during their offense reported the gun was purchased or traded at a gun show. Another study, by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), supports the BJS report, indicating that less than 2% of guns used by criminals came from gun shows. And while the AGS website claims that it has not endorsedany of the proposals discussed under its section called "Possible Solutions," it is obvious that it publicly supports an effort to impose additional regulations on gun shows—while privately endorsing the national licensing and registration of all law-abiding gun owners and their firearms in internal documents.

Be sure to contact your federal lawmakers and tell them that the AGS is nothing more than a wolf in sheep`s clothing. Tell them that it neither respects nor truly believes in our Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and its true agenda is nothing more than a full-scale attack on the Second Amendment. Remind your lawmakers to oppose any legislation that would end gun shows as we know them today. And, of course, convey your adamant opposition to licensing and registration. 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.

McCAIN-LIEBERMAN GUN SHOW BILL?

In a related story, the February 8 issue of Roll Call reported that U.S. Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman(D-Conn.) are working on legislation seeking to increase regulations on gun shows. The article refers to the pair "working together to draft an alternative compromise that both parties can support." If any gun show-related legislation comes out of this collaboration, we will be sure to report the details.

NSSF WORKS WITH CPSC ON RECALL

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), working in concert with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), will replace free of charge any gun locks that were distributed as part of the NSSF`s Project HomeSafe. Project HomeSafe is a program developed by NSSF that works with localities to distribute gun locks. When the CPSC found the lock distributed through Project HomeSafe was among a number of devices used to secure firearms that had the potential to be opened without the use of a key, NSSF responded quickly by offering to exchange the locks for a model cleared for production after testing by an independent laboratory and review by CPSC. NRA, of course, supports the use of locking devices for securing firearms as one option responsible gun owners can use to safely store their firearms based on their own personal circumstances, but this recall highlights the fact that there is no substitute for gun owners becoming thoroughly educated in firearms safety. Doug Painter, NSSF`s executive director, echoed this sentiment, stating, "In the considerable media coverage that accompanied the CPSC announcement of the replacement lock program, NSSF continued to stress that no locking device can be a substitute for safe, careful gun handling and safe storage." Anyone who received an original Project HomeSafe lock can call 800-726-6444 to request a free replacement lock.

A LOOK AT THE STATES

ARIZONA

Thanks to the grassroots efforts of NRA members, the Senate Judiciary Committee defeated two NRA-opposed bills: SB 1549, a mandatory storage bill; and SB 1566, an attack on gun shows.

CALIFORNIA

SB 52

(Perata/Scott) and AB 35 (Shelley), two nearly identical measures that would require licensing of all handgun purchasers, are on the move. AB 35 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly`s Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, February 27. Contact your Assemblyman and urge him to vote "NO" on AB 35 should it come up for a vote. Additional information on these bills will be published in the April edition of your NRA magazine or log onto www.NRAILA.org for California updates.

KANSAS

Early next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to consider two NRA-supported bills: SB 116, a reckless lawsuit preemption bill; and SB 117, a range protection bill. Contact committee members at (785) 296-2456 and urge them to support these bills. For a list of committee members, please contact NRA-ILA Grassroots at (800) 392-8683. For those on the Internet, you can find additional contact information for your lawmakers by using the "Write Your Reps" tool at www.NRAILA.org.

MISSOURI

Members of the Second Amendment Coalition of Missouri (SACMO), Western Missouri Shooters Alliance (WMSA), Missourians for Personal Safety (MPS), and hundreds of law-abiding Missouri firearm owners will gather in the State Capitol Rotunda in Jefferson City, Mo., on Wednesday, February 28, 2001, from 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Several national Second Amendment advocates will address the attendees, and this will be an opportunity for pro-gun activists to meet and network with allies from all corners of the state. Those attending will also be able to express their thanks to our many pro-freedom friends in the Missouri State Legislature for their dedication to preserving the our Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Please don`t miss this chance to prepare for the challenges and opportunities we will face in the near future! For more info on this event, please contact: Mark Gentle at (314) 831-8587 (after 6:00 p.m.) or by e-mail at rebel1707@juno.com; SACMO at (636) 230-2399 or by e-mail at president@sacmo.org; or Gil Pyles at (314) 346-8629 or by e-mail at gil.pyles@att.net. You can also visit www.sacmo.org for up-to-the-minute news!

NEBRASKA

LB 496, NRA-backed Right to Carry legislation, is currently pending before the Judiciary Committee, and a vote is expected soon. Contact your Senator at (402) 471-2271, and urge him to support LB-496.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

HB 505, a reckless lawsuit preemption bill, is set to be considered by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, February 21. Contact members of the committee and urge them to support HB 505. For a list of members` names and phone numbers, please call NRA-ILA Grassroots.

NEW MEXICO

Next week, the House Judiciary Committee is expected to consider HB 277, NRA-backed Right to Carry legislation. Call members of the House Judiciary Committee at (505) 986-4410 and urge them to support HB 277. For a list of committee members, please call NRA-ILA Grassroots.

RHODE ISLAND

Last week, State Representative David Cicilline (D-50) introduced H5580, a sweeping, twenty-one page anti-gun bill that could be considered by the House Judiciary Committee as early as Tuesday, February 27. H 5580 would give local law enforcement the authority to arbitrarily deny you your right to purchase a firearm, require ballistics testing on all firearms before they can be sold in the state, and reduce the duration of concealed carry permits from four years to one year. H 5580 would also set up central registration of all firearms, and require every firearm sold in Rhode Island to be fitted with a trigger lock. Contact members of the House Judiciary Committee and urge them to vote "NO" on H 5580. For a list of members` names and phone numbers, please call NRA-ILA Grassroots.

SOUTH DAKOTA

HB 1239

, the NRA-backed reciprocity bill, passed the House State Affairs Committee this week. Leave a phone message at (605) 773-3851 urging your Representative to support HB 1239.

TEXAS

On Wednesday, February 21, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee will consider SB 494, which seeks to end the practice of destroying confiscated firearms by requiring the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to auction the guns off to FFL holders. Funds generated by the auctions will be used to purchase law enforcement safety equipment. Contact committee members and urge them to support SB 494. For a list of committee members and their phone numbers, contact NRA-ILA Grassroots.

VIRGINIA

HB 1969, which seeks to reinforce the state`s firearms preemption law against a patchwork of local firearms restrictions, will be heard before the full Senate early next week. In recent years, some of Virginia`s more anti-gun localities have been crafting gun-control laws in ways to get around the existing law. HB 1969 would put an end to this practice and restore the much-needed state uniformity. Contact your State Senator at (804) 698-7410 and urge him to support HB 1969.

NRA WILL BE CLOSED ON PRESIDENT`S DAY, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19.

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.