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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 8, No. 11 3/16/2001

HCI`s CPHV LAUNCHES BACKDOOR ATTACK ON SECOND AMENDMENT

After coming to grips with the fact that the extremist anti-gun agenda has been steadily losing its appeal with many politicians over the last few years, opponents of ourRight to Keep and Bear Arms have been exploring ways to circumvent the legislative process to achieve their goals. This week, theCenter to Prevent Handgun Violence (CPHV) unveiled its latest effort—a campaign by itsLegal Action Project to urge the attorneys general of at least 20 states to contort and abuse consumer protection laws in an all-out assault on lawful gun manufacturers. This attack is modeled after the anti-gun regulations imposed last April inMassachusetts that have had a disastrous impact on firearms dealers in the Bay State, effectively banning the sale handguns until and unless they meet the state`s criteria. The regulations impose a number of arbitrary design standards on gun manufacturers, such as a mandate to include a second, "hidden" serial number on new handguns. These standards have absolutely no connection to what the law calls "unfair and deceptive practices," and even though gun makers have never been found to be guilty of such practices, the state nonetheless imposed design regulations that range from the bizarre to the pointless.

CPHV President Mike Barnes—also President of CPHV`s sister organization,HCI—admitted that the reason his organization was attempting to coerce attorneys general into helping promote CPHV`s (and HCI`s) unpopular agenda is because the group is ineffective in the normal legislative policy process. Barnes stated his organization "can`t wait for Congress to act" on legislation imposing new regulations on the design of firearms, so it must pursue this backdoor strategy instead.

But Barnes and CPHV/HCI are selling this assault on lawful gun makers under two basic misconceptions promoted by anti-gun extremists. First is the false premise that accidents due to firearms are a severe and increasing problem. However, firearm-related accidental fatalities are lower now than they have ever been in this country. In fact, accidental fatalities involving firearms declined 50% during the decade 1989-1998. The decrease in firearm-related accidental fatalities can be attributed to law-abiding, responsible gun owners taking part in firearm safety programs, such as those developed by NRA—not because of government regulations.

The second misconception promoted by anti-gun extremists to further this latest attack is the idea that firearm manufacturers are not subject to any regulations. Barnes, et al., know this to be untrue. While U.S. firearms makers are not subject to regulation by theConsumer Product Safety Commission, they are subject to numerous national regulations administered by BATF and detailed in a publication of some 152 pages of very small type. In addition, all U.S. gun makers already comply with federal, state, and local laws, and their manufacturing standards are reviewed byFBI, theU.S. Customs Service, various other public and private agencies, and even theRoyal Canadian Mounted Police. Industry standards are set by theSporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI), an organization founded in 1926 at the request of the federal government. Today, SAAMI publishes more than 700 standards related to firearm and ammunition quality and safety. SAAMI is an accredited standards developer for theAmerican National Standards Institute (ANSI), and the standards established by SAAMI are reviewed by outside parties, such as theNational Institute of Standards and Technology. Every five years the validity of the standards is re-affirmed. TheU.S. Armed Forces, the FBI, and many other state and local agencies frequently require that their firearms are manufactured in accordance with SAAMI specifications.

The problems with CPHV`s demands are many. First, bureaucrats who know nothing about firearms, firearm engineering, firearm uses, or the preferences of consumers, are ill-suited to make such decisions. Second, it is dangerous to presume that all firearms should be designed the same, without concern for the varied needs of individual gun owners and the purposes for which firearms are used. Third, the notion that safety with firearms can be achieved by mandates on design of guns themselves, rather than by the conduct of gun owners, flies in the face of decades of firearm safety training and the steady and pronounced decline in fatal firearm accidents that has been achieved through training over several decades. Would-be gun-regulators suggest that guns could be designed so that they could be presumed to be unloaded and, thus, handled with utter disregard for standard, safe gun operation procedure. Obviously, such an approach is dangerous. Firearms should never be presumed to be "unloaded"; they should always be handled according to strict firearm safety rules.

Ultimately, however, the central problem with giving gun-ban proponents input into how firearms should be designed and manufactured is simple. If bureaucrats are empowered to determine how firearms must be designed, it would be far too easy for a bureaucrat who supports banning all firearms to impose standards that would be impossible forany gun maker to meet.

The announcement of the CPHV`s latest attack should confirm what most in the pro-Second Amendment community already knew—anti-gun extremists will try to promote their agenda through whatever means possible. With Clinton and Gore gone, even anti-gun activists in Congress seem reluctant to continue to promote attacks on the Second Amendment. The CPHV`s attempt to manipulate attorneys general at the state level represents a serious threat, and highlights its shift in strategy to promoting its anti-gun agenda at the state and local levels, rather than in Congress. This latest campaign is similar to the one promoting reckless lawsuits filed in big cities against lawful gun makers in an attempt to hold them responsible for the acts of criminals—another campaign supported by CPHV/HCI. Take the time to contact your state`s attorney general if he is one of the 20 targeted by CPHV/HCI, and urge him to oppose this latest effort. For information on how to contact your state`s attorney general, or to find out if he is on the CPHV/HCI target list, call the ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683.

MMM LAYS OFF
NEARLY 86% OF EMPLOYEES

The"Million" Mom March (MMM) was forced to lay off 30 of its 35 employees and put a halt to the formation of any new "chapters" last week, an indication that the extremist anti-gun agenda is losing support not just with lawmakers, but also with the small segment of American society that has been bankrolling the group. While the anti-gun lobbying group tried to put on its best face by announcing it was "returning to its roots as a predominantly volunteer organization," the fact is that the group was started byDonna Dees-Thomasas, a well-connected political operative with direct ties to the oldClinton-Gore Administration, and most of its funding came from large contributions by wealthy individuals, and a grant from theRichard & Rhoda Goldman Fund of San Francisco. The money, however, seems to have been largely wasted. What little success the group has experienced can probably be attributed to the political connections of its leaders, and the public support from minor celebrities like gun-ban proponentRosie O`Donnell—hardly what one would call the "roots" of a "predominantly volunteer organization." What this lay-off will ultimately mean to the efforts of the MMM remains to be seen, but there could be an even more serious storm on the horizon for the group. Various Internet sources make some rather strong allegations about the legality of some of the MMM`s actions. While we can neither confirm nor deny any of the claims, we will certainly continue to look into them to the extent that we can, and we will report any developments on this front.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR
130TH NRA ANNUAL MEETING!

During the2001 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits, which will be held inKansas City, Mo.,May 18-20, your NRA is looking for dedicated members to volunteer some time to assist with the various projects necessary in staging yet another record-setting Annual Meeting. The NRA Annual Meeting is the most exciting and satisfying NRA event of the year, and by joining our team of volunteers, you will lessen the load for all of us, and you will play an integral role in putting NRA`s best foot forward. There are several areas in which volunteer help is needed, and any time or assistance you can lend will be greatly appreciated by NRA staff, Annual Meeting Exhibitors, and the tens of thousands of your fellow NRA Members attending the Annual Meeting! If you would like to volunteer your time, or would like more information, please contact:

Dennis Eggers, Central Region Director
NRA Field Operations Division
14 Doe Court
Wentzville, MO 63385
Office: (636) 828-6226
Fax: (636) 828-6227
E-mail: deggers@nrahq.org

A LOOK AT THE STATES

ARIZONA

Tomorrow, Saturday, March 17, a rally supporting the future of gun shows at theTucson Convention Center will be held. Rally participants will march from the Tucson Convention Center to theTucson City Council Building at 5:30 p.m. Please make plans to attend and show your support.

CONNECTICUT

Public testimony will be heard on a number of gun bills onTuesday, March 20, in theSenate & House Joint Public Safety Committee. NRA-backed bills includeSB 1378, a measure that seeks to make carry permit holders personal information confidential, andSB 1402, a bill that seeks to make much needed improvements to the current handgun carry permit system to streamline the issuing process. NRA-opposed bills includeSB 1379, a bill that seeks to require ballistic fingerprinting of firearms, andSB 1405, an attempt to dramatically expand the 1993 ban on semi-automatic firearms that also includes a ban on ammunition magazines that are capable of holding more than 10 rounds. Testimony sign-up is at10:00 a.m., but persons wishing to testify must show up approximately 1-2 hours early in order to be accepted. The hearing will begin at11:00 a.m. in room 2E of the Legislative Office Building at the State Capitol in Hartford. If you don`t wish to testify, you can still help by just attending the hearing to show your opposition. A strong showing is important so that the anti-gun crowd does not dominate the hearing.

IOWA

SSB 1184, a study bill that seeks to ban all private sales at gun shows, has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and now moves to the Senate floor (under a new bill # yet to be assigned) for consideration. Call your State Senator at (515) 281-3371 and urge him to oppose this proposal.

MARYLAND

Next week, the full Senate is expected to vote on SB 869, the NRA-backed Range Protection bill. Contact your State Senator through the main switchboard at (410) 841-3000 and urge him to support the passage of SB 869.

MINNESOTA

HF 1360, the NRA-supported Right to Carry bill, has been approved by the House Crime Prevention Committee. On Monday, March 19, the Civil Law Committee will consider the measure. Call your Representative at (651) 296-2146 and urge him to support HF 1360.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Please make plans to attend theHouse Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee hearing onTuesday, March 20. Your attendance at this hearing is extremely important to ensure thatHB 736, a sweeping anti-gun bill, does not pass. (See FAX Alert Vol. 8, No 10 for more details on HB 736) The hearing will begin at10:00 a.m., in room 204 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord.

NEW MEXICO This week, the House and Senate gave final approval to two identical shooting range protection bills:HB 126 & SB 285. We`ll keep you posted on final developments concerning NRA-backed Right to Carry bills (HB 277 & SB 148) as the Legislature prepares to adjourn tomorrow, Saturday, March 17.

NEW YORK

OnMonday, March 19, at7:00 p.m., theNassau County Legislature will hold a public hearing to consider a reduction in the gigantic 700% fee increase for pistol licenses. Nassau County lawmakers, after having burdened taxpayers with the largest debt in county history, approved the measure, forcing gun owners to foot the bill. The meeting will be held atLegislative Hall at 1 West Street in Mineola. All gun owners should make plans to attend.

TENNESSEE

Earlier this week, the House Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 to defeat an amendment toHB 151, which sought to require a study that would mandate that all new handguns be equipped with "personalized" handgun technology. Thank you to all members who contacted their lawmakers in opposition to this bill.

TEXAS

TEXAS HOUSE COMMITTEE
TO CONSIDER LAUNDRY-LIST OF GUN CONTROL MEASURES

OnTuesday, March 20, at2:00 p.m. inRoom E2.028 of theCapitol Building Extension inAustin, theTexas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee will consider a laundry list of anti-gun measures ranging from Clinton-style restrictions on gun shows, to mandating the sale of trigger-locking devices, to restricting the lawful possession of firearms by juveniles.Here`s a synopsis of what you can expect to be debated:

HB 367, HB 404 & HB 635—Restrictions on Firearms Sales at Gun Shows, by Reps. Juan Hinojosa (D), Debra Danburg (D), and Sylvester Turner (D)

These bills seek to make it a felony or misdemeanor for anyone who`s not an FFL to sell their firearm at a gun show to anyone other than a concealed handgun licensee. Private sellers or gun show promoters would be required to find an FFL to facilitate gun sales and conduct records checks using the FBI-runNational Instant Check System (NICS) on would-be buyers. This means that the dealer would take your private property into his inventory before requesting a NICS check. In the event that the sale is not completed—because of a NICS outage, a "delay" or "deny" response from FBI, or a change of heart by the purchaser—the dealer would have to run a NICS check on YOU before returning to you your lawfully-owned personal property! This also means that every buyer at a show will be registered with FBI and subject to a possible three-business-day wait—far longer than any gun show normally lasts! These bills mirror the onerous Lautenberg Gun Show amendment that failed in the last Congress.

HB 446—Mandatory Sale of Trigger-Lock With Gun Purchased From a Dealer, by Rep. Glenn Lewis (D)

The committee will consider this bill in spite of the fact that theConsumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently reported that more than 30 models of gun locks failed even the most basic safety test. In fact, CPSC encouraged a voluntary recall of more than 400,000 defective locks distributed across the country! NRA supports safety though education, not ineffective storage mandates and unnecessary, feel-good legislation. Tell committee members you support bills likeHB 2656 & SB 677, which require schools and community resource officers to incorporate gun accident prevention programs like the nationally-recognizedEddie Eagle GunSafe™ Program into their curriculum.

HB 193, HB 209 & HB 1332—Restrictions on Lawful Possession of Firearms by Juveniles, by Reps. Lon Burnam(D), John Longoria (D), and Helen Giddings(D)

HB 193 & HB 209

seek to create an endless number of scenarios where law-abiding youth shooters could be subject to arrest and criminal prosecution for otherwise legal activities. Unaccompanied young shooters could be arrested and charged for stopping anywhere along the drive home from the local club where they train if they have their firearm in their vehicle. Minors competing at a local club couldn`t transport their firearms without being accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.HB 1332 goes even further. It imposes an outright ban on handgun possession by anyone under the age of 21, with no exceptions whatsoever!

Please contact committee members and urge them to oppose these needless restrictions on our rights in Texas:

Rep. Juan Hinojosa (D), Chair
Phone: 512-463-0636 Fax: 512-463-0229
E-mail: juan.hinojosa@house.state.tx.us

Rep. Jim Dunnam (D), Vice-Chair
Phone: 512-463-0508 Fax: 512-463-5934
E-mail: jim.dunnam@house.state.tx.us

Rep. Domingo Garcia (D)
Phone: 512-463-0654 Fax: 512-463-9833
E-mail: domingo.garcia@house.state.tx.us

Rep. Rick Green (R)
Phone: 512-463-0498 Fax: 512-463-8184
E-mail: rick.green@house.state.tx.us

Rep. Terry Keel (R)
Phone: 512-463-0652 Fax: 512-477-7121
E-mail: terry.keel@house.state.tx.us

Rep. Ann Kitchen (D)
Phone: 512-463-0700 Fax: 512-463-5896
E-mail: ann.kitchen@house.state.tx.us

Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D)
Phone: 512-463-0616 Fax: 512-463-5896

Rep. John Shields (R)
Phone: 512-463-0658 Fax : 512-463-5896
E-mail: john.shields@house.state.tx.us

Rep. Robert Talton(R)
Phone: 512-463-0460 Fax: 512-463-1484

It`s important that gun owners turn out at this committee hearing to show their opposition to these measures. Although testimony is expected to be limited, everyone that attends is encouraged to fill out a witness affirmation form in opposition to each of these bills. Forms will be available in the committee room. Please encourage family, friends and fellow gun owners to contact members of the committee and attend Tuesday`s hearing as well!

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.