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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 8, No. 8 2/23/2001


Last week, we told you about a new anti-gun outfit operating under the nameAmericans for Gun Safety. This week, we learned thatHandgun Control, Inc. (HCI), may be changing its name in what appears to be a desperate attempt to improve its image with mainstream America. According to the February 26 issue ofNewsweek, the new name will probably include a reference toJim andSarah Brady, who have been the public faces of HCI since the late 1980s. HCI board members privately voted for the name change because, according to insiders, some felt the term "handgun control" was "too far to the political left." This will be the second name change for HCI, which was first formed in 1974 as theNational Council to Control Handguns (NCCH).

Of course, regardless of what it is called, HCI will continue to be nothing more than part of the gun ban lobby, although a recent press release attempts to deny this fact. Taking umbrage with an NRA letter that referred to HCI as a "gun ban lobby," HCI President Mike Barnes took a page from the Bill Clinton play book on definitions, and wrote a letter to Members of Congress to "clarify" the issue. Even though HCI is clearly on record as supporting the 1994 ban on certain semi-automatic firearms, and even though, in its original incarnation as NCCH, the organization voiced a desire for an eventual handgun ban through gradual steps, and even though HCI brags about its legal defense of the Washington, D.C., and Morton Grove, Ill. handgun bans, Barnes implied that, because "HCI does not seek to ban all (emphasis added) guns," it should not be called a "gun ban lobby." According to that logic, we shouldn`t label someone a criminal unless he commits every crime, as opposed to just some crimes. Sorry, Mike, but as long as your organization continues to support banning many types and classes of guns, it is, by definition, a "gun ban lobby." Or are you also confused with what the meaning of "is" is?


On February 20, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear an NRA-supported challenge to California`s ban on so-called assault weapons. While somewhat disappointing, the decision is hardly precedent-setting, as the Court normally chooses to hear only approximately one out of 100 cases it is asked to consider. NRA will continue to challenge the California ban, both in whole and in part, and press forward with other cases that have been filed. For a copy of an update on several legal challenges to a number of California`s draconian laws regulating firearms, please call the Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683, or see CALIFORNIA LITIGATION REPORTER .


Don`t be alarmed by the name of this lawsuit, as this litigation is just the latest incarnation ofNRA v. Reno—NRA`s suit against the government`s illegal retention of records of lawful gun purchasers who underwent aNICS check. As the new Attorney General,John Ashcroft`s name simply replaced that of his predecessor. At issue is whether the government`s retention of lawful gun purchasers under NICS can be retained in what theFBI deems an "audit log." Section 103(I) of theBrady Act clearly provides that no federal agency may (1) "require that any record" generated by NICS "be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States," or (2) use NICS "to establish any system for the registration of firearms, firearm owners, or firearm transactions," except of ineligible persons.

Additionally, 18 U.S.C. 922(t)(2), spells out that, if a person may lawfully receive a firearm, NICS shall assign a unique number, provide the number to the dealer, and "destroy all records of the system with respect to the call" (other than the number and the date) and "all records of the system relating to the person or the transfer." The petition to have the case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court was filed yesterday.


A temporary "fix" has been approved to alleviate one problem caused by Maryland`s "ballistic fingerprinting" requirement—a law that went into effect last October and has amounted to a de facto ban on the sale of new handguns in the state. The new law requires all handgun manufacturers to fire every handgun intended for sale in Maryland, and forward the shell casings to the State Police. Gun makers who are not equipped to comply with the law have not been able to supply Maryland`s gun dealers with their handguns since October 1, 2000, causing the supply available to law-abiding citizens to dry up. The quick-fix—orchestrated by the primary architect of the "ballistic fingerprinting" requirement, Maryland`s Speaker of the House Casper Taylor, Jr. (D-Allegany)—will allow Maryland`s gun dealers to sell "non-fingerprinted" handguns if they take them to the State Police, who will fire them and collect the shell casings. A fee of $20.00 will be charged for each handgun—a cost that will be passed on to the consumer. In effect, this "solution" replaces a de facto ban with a de facto tax on all handguns. The new system is not expected to be in place for another 60 days, and will operate for only six months. While NRA is encouraged to see the "de facto ban" problem being addressed, our ultimate goal remains the repeal of this onerous law. Please contact your State Delegate and urge him to support HB 185—Delegate Kevin Kelly`s (D-Allegany) legislation to repeal Maryland`s "ballistic fingerprinting" requirement. In addition, March 1, is the date set for hearings on legislation that seeks to tax all ammunition purchases. Make plans to attend the hearings and express your opposition to HB 1125. The hearings will be held on Tuesday, March 1, at 1:00 p.m., by the House of Delegates Ways and Means Committee, in Room 110 of the State Capitol. Also be sure to call your State Delegate and urge him to oppose HB 1125. You can reach your State Delegate by calling (410) 841-3000. For those on the Internet, you can find contact information for your lawmakers by going to NRAILA.org, and using the "Write Your Reps" tool.



Earlier this week, HB 1143, which would protect firearms manufacturers from frivolous, politically-motivated lawsuits aimed at bankrupting them, passed the House Agriculture Committee. The full House is expected to consider HB 1143 as early as this Monday, February 26. Also, on Monday, the House may consider HB 1138, which would hold adults criminally responsible when a minor gains access to a firearm and injures or kills another person. Contact your State Representative at (800) 382-9841 for Republican Members, or (800) 382-9842 for Democratic Members, and urge them to support HB 1143 and oppose HB 1138. 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.


The Senate Judiciary still has not considered SB 116, which would protect firearms manufacturers from frivolous, politically-motivated lawsuits aimed at bankrupting them, and SB 117, which would protect Kansas` shooting ranges against nuisance and noise ordinances aimed at shutting them down. Contact Committee members and Chairman John Vratil (R-11) and urge them to consider and support these bills. For a list of committee members, please contact NRA-ILA Grassroots or click here


The Judiciary Committee still has not voted on LB 496, NRA-backed Right to Carry legislation. Contact your Senator at (402) 471-2271 in support of LB 496.


HB 505

, which would protect firearms manufacturers from frivolous, politically-motivated lawsuits aimed at bankrupting them, 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 committee members` names and phone numbers, please call NRA-ILA Grassroots or click here.


This week, the New Mexico State House defeated HB 396, an NRA-opposed bill that would have ended firearms sales between private, non-licensed individuals at gun shows. Also, on Monday, February 26, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider SB 148, NRA-backed Right to Carry legislation. Contact committee members at (505) 986-4500 and urge them to support SB 148. For a list of committee members, contact NRA-ILA Grassroots Division or click here.

RHODE ISLAND Rep. David Cicilline (D-4) introduced H 5580, a sweeping, 21 page anti-gun bill that could be considered by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, February 27. H 5580 would give local law enforcement the authority to arbitrarily deny 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.


Earlier this week, the Utah House Judiciary Committee passed HB 376 S3, which would grant out-of-state "Right to Carry" permit holders the ability to carry their firearms concealed for personal protection in Utah. Contact your State Representative at (801) 538-1029 and urge them to support HB 376 S3.


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 on Monday, February 26. 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.


Next week, the House is expected to vote on HB 1121, NRA-opposed legislation that mandates how an individual`s firearms should be stored, thus rendering them useless for self-defense. Contact your State Representative at (360) 786-7573 and urge him to oppose HB 1121.


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.