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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 8, No. 21 5/25/2001


Last Saturday, during the Meeting of Members at NRA`s 130th Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Kansas City, Mo., NRA-ILA Executive Director James Jay Baker read from a May 17, 2001, letter from U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft that spelled out the AG`s views on the Second Amendment. Ashcroft wrote, "[L]et me state unequivocally....the Second Amendment clearly
protect(s) the right of individuals to keep and bear firearms." The letter was sent to Baker in reply to a query made by NRA-ILA in April, and marks a decided reversal from the days of the Clinton/Reno Department of Justice (DOJ). Under Clinton, the Office of the Solicitor General, the federal government`s top lawyer, wrote in a letter to an NRA member, "there is no personal constitutional right, under the Second Amendment, to own or use a gun." Ashcroft`s letter continued, saying, "While some have argued that the Second Amendment guarantees only a ‘collective` right of the States to maintain militias, I believe the Amendment`s plain meaning and original intent prove otherwise. Like the First and Fourth Amendments, the Second Amendment protects the rights of ‘the people,` which the Supreme Court has noted is a term of art that should be interpreted consistently throughout the Bill of Rights." Please feel free to contact Attorney General Ashcroft and thank him for his public support of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms. You can write: U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530-0001. You can also send e-mail to AskDOJ@usdoj.gov.

Of course, the letter from Ashcroft has sent tremors through the anti-gun lobby. The gun-ban extremists at the Violence Policy Center (VPC) put out a release on Ashcroft that seems to openly question his honesty and integrity, simply because he understands that the Second Amendment protects an individual right—as did the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (originally founded as the National Coalition to Ban Handguns). Meanwhile, the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence (CPHV)—the "educational" arm of the gun-ban lobby, HCI—continued to dismiss the vast body of evidence that supports the fact that the Second Amendment protects an individual right and questioned AG Ashcroft`s understanding of constitutional law. Ignoring court precedents, historical research, law review articles, and the writings of our Founding Fathers that clearly support Ashcroft`s view, CPHV`s Dennis Heniganclaimed, "[T]he Second Amendment refers only to the use of arms by an organized state militia." This inability of CPHV to either understand or acknowledge the true meaning of the Second Amendment is not surprising—CPHV`s core agenda is to subvert the constitutional separation of powers. CPHV, you see, is one of the principal actors in the crusade to bankrupt lawful gun makers with reckless, harassing lawsuits because its anti-gun agenda continues to be rejected. As CPHV-supported suits continue to be thrown out of court, perhaps Henigan and his followers will finally learn it is the legislatures that write the laws, not the courts.


U.S. Senator James Jeffords` (I-Vt.) announcement yesterday that he was abandoning the Republican Party raises grave concerns within the pro-gun community. While claiming he has become an Independent, he has vowed to support the Democratic Party when it comes to voting for Senate Leadership positions. For all intents and purposes, this makes Jeffords a de facto Democrat, and throws control of the U.S. Senate to that party. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre pointed out that Democratic control of the Senate means that a cabal of anti-gun extremists will now hold the key positions that can dictate what legislation will be heard, and when. Anti-gun extremist Democrats Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Teddy Kennedy (Mass.), and Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) will now have complete control over the important Senate Judiciary Committee, and Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) will replace pro-gun stalwart Trent Lott (R-Miss.) as Senate Majority Leader. LaPierre warned gun owners will need to "batten down the hatches" to prepare for Senate debate over a host of anti-gun legislation.


NRA`s 130th Annual Meetings and Exhibits kicked off at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, May 18, as more than 250 NRA-ILA Grassroots Volunteers gathered in the Kansas City Downtown Marriott to discuss their volunteer activities in support of the Second Amendment. As a special surprise, NRA First Vice President Kayne Robinson, NRA Second Vice President Sandra Froman, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, and NRA-ILA Executive Director James Jay Baker all addressed the Workshop attendees, thanking them for their monumental efforts during the 2000 election cycle, and encouraging them to remain vigilant and re-double their efforts in anticipation of the challenges and opportunities we will face in the upcoming months.

Echoing the remarks of NRA`s Officers, members of ILA Grassroots staff then detailed various topics and programs through which Grassroots Volunteers can enhance their ability to protect the Second Amendment at the local, state, and national levels. Specific topics included: NRA-ILA Election Volunteer Coordinator Program (EVC), including testimonials from EVCs Anne Britton (Ark.-3), David Adams (Va.-7), Gary Davis (Mo.-5), and Jim Tomes(Ind.-8); an overview of upcoming congressional elections and pending federal legislation; letters-to-the-editor and communicating with elected officials; the NRA-ILA website; volunteer recruitment; and voter registration, to name a few.

All told, the Workshop was enormously successful in energizing our Grassroots Network for future battles in the fight to protect the Second Amendment, and our heartfelt appreciation goes out to all Workshop attendees.

Shortly following the Grassroots Workshop, ILA Grassroots staff held an EVC Roundtable Sessionwith 28 EVCs from across the nation. The highlight of the session was ILA Executive Director James Jay Baker addressing the attendees. The Roundtable also served as a great opportunity to discuss various programmatic changes and updates to the EVC program, and allowed ILA Grassroots staff an opportunity to hear directly from EVCs regarding their personal experiences during the 2000 election cycle.

Your local EVC is looking for NRA members to assist in their efforts to help elect pro-Second Amendment candidates and marshal grassroots opposition to anti-gun legislation, a task that carries far greater importance with the U.S. Senate soon falling under the control of anti-gun Democrats. To locate your EVC, you may visit NRAILA.org and access the "Election Info" link. If there isn`t an EVC designated for your congressional district, please contact ILA Grassroots at (800) 392-8683 to find out how you can help in your area!

Also, all NRA Officers were reelected to their respective offices, including NRA President Charlton Heston, who is now serving in an unprecedented fourth term. This year`s Annual Meetings were an unqualified success, and over 47,000 attendees made it one of the largest ever!



Last night, the State Senate passed SB 1402, Senators Kevin Sullivan`s (D-West Hartford) and George Jepsen`s (D-Stamford) Assault Weapons Bill. SB 1402 was stripped of its original language and was replaced with language banning a long list of semi-automatic rifles and shotguns with politically incorrect cosmetic features. It also now includes a broad ban on ammunition magazines and various types of ammunition. The bill now moves to the House for consideration early next week. Please call or e-mail your State Representative and urge him to NOT allow Senators Sullivan and Jepsen to play politics with our rights, and instead support the "Illegal Firearms Trafficking Task Force." Let your Representative know that you want him to focus on violent criminals and not on law-abiding gun owners. Also, please call Governor John Rowland (R) at (860) 566-4840 and let him know that gun owners are opposed to this legislation moving quickly through the legislature. To contact your Republican Reps., call (800) 842-1423, and for your Democratic Reps., call (800) 842-1420. You can also contact your lawmakers through e-mail by using the "Write Your Reps" feature at www.NRAILA.org.Many of your lawmakers will be attending hometown Memorial Day parades this weekend, so if you have the opportunity to speak with them be sure to let them know your feelings on this bill.


On Wednesday, May 23, Governor Guinn (R) signed SB 20 and SB 172. SB 20 allows non-residents to apply for a Nevada Right to Carry permit starting October 1, 2001, and SB 172 abolishes the two-gun-per-permit limitation for Nevada Right to Carry permits beginning July 1, 2002, when the state`s computer infrastructure is in place.


House Bill 192 was recently passed by the full House and is awaiting consideration in the Senate. HB 192 seeks to prohibit reckless lawsuits filed by big city anti-gun mayors against the lawful firearm industry. Please call your State Senators at (614) 466-4900 and urge them to support HB 192 when it comes before them.


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.