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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 8, No. 26 6/29/2001

SUPREME COURT REMAINS SILENT
ON CLINTON/RENO REGISTRATION SCHEME—ASHCROFT DOES NOT

On Monday, theU.S. Supreme Court declined to hear NRA`s challenge of a lower court ruling that held the FBI could keep personal information acquired throughNational Instant Check System (NICS) checks of gun buyers for up to six months. On Thursday, however,U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that he is considering a proposal that would slash the amount of time allowed to keep these records to less than one day, an effort that will include working to increase the accuracy and efficiency of NICS.NRA-ILA Executive Director James Jay Baker stated, "This announcement is a tremendous step in the right direction in protecting the privacy rights of gun buyers," but added, "NRA will continue to pursue all available means to ensure that those personal records [of law-abiding gun purchasers] are destroyed immediately."

After the Supreme Court`s non-ruling, there was a great deal of misinformation circulating regarding what it actually meant. "Despite what was incorrectly reported in the [mainstream] media, the Supreme Court didn`t rule against NRA in this case," saidStephen P. Halbrook, NRA attorney in the case. "Just because the Supreme Court declines to hear a case doesn`t say anything about the merits of the case. The judges in the lower courts simply did not read the law properly. Since the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, it has become a political problem for Congress or John Ashcroft to fix."

TheBrady Act clearly states that if a firearm transfer is not denied, the NICS operator must assign a unique number to the dealer and destroy all other records of the transfer. In addition, the Act states that no such records can be transferred to, or recorded at, any local, state, or federal government facility, and the act also specifically forbids the creation of any system of registration for firearms owners, firearms, or transfers.

Yesterday`s announcement by Ashcroft, which was merely one segment of a much larger package of proposals designed to improve the enforcement of existing the laws that prohibit violent criminals from possessing firearms, drew knee-jerk reactions from gun-ban extremists.U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of Congress`s most shrill proponents of restricting law-abiding gun owners and banning firearms, called it "the most disappointing news we`ve received," and the gun-ban lobby formerly known asHCI all but accused Ashcroft of refusing to enforce federal laws regulating firearms. Even the fledgling anti-gun organization, "Americans for Gun Safety" (AGS)—a group comprised of just one American and his staff, Internet billionaire and formerHCI Board Member Andrew McKelvey—chose to respond to yesterday`s announcement with its own attack on President George Bush. All of these anti-gun extremists chose to conveniently ignore Ashcroft`s plan to expand the enforcement of existing gun laws against violent criminals.

With the exception of anti-gun extremists, however, Ashcroft`s announcement was met with bi-partisan support.U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) stated, "I applaud the attorney general for this pro-privacy initiative. I look forward to working with him to protect the privacy of law-abiding citizens while keeping guns from the hands of criminals and children. I also agree with him that the Department of Justice should vigorously enforce our federal firearms laws."

ILA`s Baker agreed with Leahy`s logic and explained the problems that AG Ashcroft faces in seeking to improve NICS operations. "There are still a lot of holdovers from the Reno era within the Department of Justice who think the federal government should maintain files on law-abiding Americans," Baker pointed out, then stated, "The NRA will continue to pursue all available means to ensure that those personal records are destroyed immediately."

ANOTHER GRASSROOTS VICTORY AT THE POLLS

Last week, the pro-gun community propelled newly-elected U.S. Representative Randy Forbes (R) to victory over an anti-gun opponent in a special election to fill a vacancy in Virginia`s fourth U.S. Congressional District. This week, the efforts of pro-gun activists paid off one more time when NRA-PVF-endorsed Bret Schundler (R) won New Jersey`s Republican primary, claiming his party`s nomination for governor. Schundler defeated anti-gun former U.S. Representative Bob Franks (R), who lost a close race for the U.S. Senate last year against anti-gun millionaire Jon Corzine (D). Franks became the prohibitive favorite to win the nomination when he entered the race after acting Governor Donald DiFrancesco (R)—also a "gun control" supporter—withdrew amid growing controversy regarding his business dealings. Schundler, who has won two terms as mayor of Jersey City, a heavily Democratic area, was considered a longshot when he announced his candidacy, and trailed first DiFrancesco and then Franks early in the campaign. But Schundler rapidly made up ground, and, with the support of New Jersey`s pro-gun community, he defeated Franks by a wide margin, 57%-43%. Also of interest is the fact that Sarah Brady tried, but failed, to influence the outcome of this race. Brady recorded a phone message for New Jersey`s voters where she attacked Schundler for his pro-gun view. Our congratulations go out to all the pro-gun activists who helped to make this stunning victory possible!

KMART`S BLUE LIGHT
TURNS TO RED FOR HANDGUN OWNERS

Kmart, one of the nation`s largest firearm retailers, announced yesterday that it will no longer sell handgun ammunition at its stores. The retailer said this new policy will be implemented over the next 90 days, but the complete phase-out will depend on how long it takes for stores to sell their existing stocks. Kmart has been under pressure from anti-gun extremists to stop selling firearms for some time, and while the company claims it has been reviewing the issue of firearm and ammunition sales for some time, this decision was announced one day after company executives met with "gun control" advocates. It is disappointing to see a company such as Kmart cave-in to pressure from a tiny minority of anti-gun extremists, especially considering this is the same chain that fired Rosie O`Donnell as its spokesman in 1999, shortly after the hypocritical talk show host launched her infamous all-out assault on America`s law-abiding gun owners. But other firearm retailers are likely happy to hear there will be one less business against which they must compete. The nation`s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., indicates it has no intention of following Kmart`s lead, and many gun owners are already indicating they will no longer frequent Kmart for any shopping needs because of its decision. If you wish to contact Kmart to comment on this decision, you can call 1-866-KMART 4 U (1-866-562 7848), or you can send e-mail to kmartccn@kmart.com.

GUN-BAN LOBBY "MERGES"
WITH NUMERICALLY-CHALLENGED MOMS

Sarah Brady`s gun-ban lobby, formerly known as HCI, announced yesterday that it would "merge" with the beleaguered"Million" Mom March (MMM), uniting two struggling groups with "common goals"—"goals" that include supporting the passage of laws that greatly increase restrictions on law-abiding gun owners, including support of banning firearms. And while Brady commented, "This alliance sends a clear message that the gun control movement is uniting and targeted," the union appears more an absorption of MMM by Brady`s group.

The MMM had fallen rapidly from its status as a media darling in 2000, suffering a virtual collapse earlier this year, amid questions of illegal use of taxpayer funds. First, funding from a few large contributions by wealthy individuals and a grant from theRichard & Rhoda Goldman Fund of San Francisco began to dry up, forcing the "Moms" to lay off 30 of its 35 employees and put a halt to the formation of any new "chapters." The group was then evicted from the San Francisco office it had occupied for two years when it was exposed that the anti-gun advocates were living rent-free in city-owned property. Finally, the rallies scheduled in numerous state capitals and other carefully-selected areas for this year`sMothers` Day failed to garner much media attention, as the turn-out in most cases was extremely low. In some cases, only a handful of people showed up, and some rallies were simply cancelled. The allure of money from Brady`s established list of well-heeled contributors could be the reason that MMM agreed to surrender its mismanaged remains.

Brady`s group, on the other hand, has been suffering somewhat of an identity crisis, as it has recently undergone its second name change during its relatively brief existence. The organization now calls itself theBrady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, although many continue to refer to it as HCI or simply the gun-ban lobby. Perhaps by absorbing MMM, Brady`s group hopes to fool the general public into believing it is something other than an advocate of licensing and registration schemes, gun bans, and other restrictions on law-abiding gun owners. Of course, just because these two struggling anti-gun organizations have basically become one, this should not give the pro-gun community any comfort. These anti-gun extremists still have plenty of supporters in Congress and the media, and NRA will continue to take them as the serious threat to our freedom that they are.

A LOOK AT THE STATES

NORTH CAROLINA

On Wednesday, June 27, the full Senate passed Senate Bill 680. SB 680 is aimed at prohibiting reckless lawsuits against the firearms industry. Unfortunately, there is some confusion about NRA`s position regarding an amendment that was attached to the bill requiring gun show promoters to apply for permits from local sheriffs and requiring all vendors at the show to pay sales tax. NRA does not support this amendment and will not support final passage of a bill containing this provision. We will work in the House to strip out the repressive gun show provision and then pass a clean lawsuit bill. If we are unable to do this in the House, we will not support passage of the bill with the gun show language included. Many members in North Carolina have been misled to believe that NRA is compromising on gun shows to pass the lawsuit bill. This is not the case, and we will oppose final passage of any bill containing the gun show provision. Please call your State Representatives at (919) 733-7928 and urge them to support SB 680 without the gun show provision.

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.