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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 8, No. 41 10/12/2001

<align=center>MEETS FINAL DEMISE

The City of New Orleans continues to set precedents when it comes to reckless lawsuits designed to bankrupt the nation`s gun manufacturers—but most are not the kind its mayor hoped for. New Orleans was the first city to file a reckless lawsuit against the firearms industry, under the orders of anti-gun Mayor Marc Morial (D), setting the stage for more than two dozen that followed. The New Orleans suit, however, was also the first to be rejected by a state supreme court earlier this year. And on Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the United States let stand the April 3 ruling by the Louisiana Supreme Court, making the New Orleans suit the first of its kind to be rejected by the highest court in the land.

The New Orleans suit was the model for several similar suits promoted by anti-gun government officials. These suits have been brought in collaboration with a mix of anti-gun organizations—whose goal is to drive gun makers out of business—and a cabal of greedy trial lawyers, who are eager to line their pockets with the proceeds from any judgements or settlements that might come in their favor.

When the Louisiana Supreme Court dismissed the New Orleans lawsuit on a 5 - 2 ruling, it upheld the Louisiana state law passed last year that bars municipalities from filing lawsuits against the firearms industry. This week`s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court represents a crushing defeat for those who promote these reckless lawsuits. While the decision does not set any specific legal precedent, it clearly indicates the highest court in the land does not intend to interfere with state laws that prohibit municipalities from filing reckless suits against gun makers. NRA has been able to increase the number of states with such prohibitions to 27, choking off the ability of anti-gun extremists to pursue their gun-ban agenda at taxpayer expense.

This week`s rejection of the New Orleans lawsuit also appears to have brought at least a temporary end to a similar suit filed by Bridgeport, Conn. On October 1, the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld a ruling that dismissed Bridgeport`s suit in 1999 because the city lacked "...any statutory authorization to initiate...claims" of liability against the firearms industry. After this week`s rejection of the New Orleans suit, Bridgeport`s anti-gun Mayor Joseph Ganim (D) told the Associated Press this week that an appeal of his city`s suit to the U.S. Supreme Court was, "[P]robably not a likely route for us," and, "It`s not likely we`re in a very strong position." He did, however, indicate that he would not rule out other avenues to continue his abuse of the courts, stating he would speak with Connecticut`s anti-gun Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D), who supported the Bridgeport suit, to explore all options.

The continued accumulation of losses through the courts appears to have become so unsettling to the gun-ban lobby formerly known as HCI that it seems to have escalated it campaign of making grossly misleading statements. The group`s president, Michael Barnes, misled Congress earlier this year while testifying before the Senate, and now Dennis Henigan, who heads Barnes` lawsuit arm, has also been caught making misleading statements. After the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the New Orleans appeal, Henigan`s attempt to misrepresent his group`s mounting legal losses was met with sharp criticism by National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) President Robert Delfay. Henigan, speaking of the status of the reckless lawsuit campaign, claimed, "You have cases going both ways. It`s pretty much split down the middle." But Delfay responded by stating, "These comments by Mr. Henigan totally misrepresent the true status of the municipal litigation against the firearms industry." Delfay went on to say, "By far, the consensus by judges reviewing these cases is that there is no basis in law to hold the manufacturer of a legally sold, non-defective product responsible for the criminal misuse of that product. The attempt by nearly 30 municipalities to do so is totally political and distasteful, as is Mr. Henigan`s misrepresentation of the status of these lawsuits."


Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed S. 1447, the "Aviation Security Act," on a rare 100 - 0 vote. Included in the package was the NRA-supported amendment offered by U.S. Senators Bob Smith (R-N.H.) and Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) to allow properly trained commercial pilots, co-pilots, and flight engineers to carry firearms aboard commercial airplanes. While anti-gun lobbyists opposed this proposal with near unanimity, even the most staunchly anti-gun Senators abandoned them. U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), one of the most shrill anti-gun lawmakers on Capitol Hill, came out in full support of arming pilots, stating, "I think we need to do everything we can to prevent more hijackings from occurring." S. 1447 will next be considered in the U.S. House, so be sure to call your U.S. Representative at (202) 225-3121 and urge him to support the Smith/Burns amendment to the "Aviation Security Act."

In addition, the "National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2002" still awaits final consideration. As reported last week, Section 1062 of the bill passed by the Senate (S. 1438) provides the Secretary of Defense with the authority to require "demilitarization" of any "significant military equipment" that has ever been owned by the DoD. This could lead to the required destruction of any firearm, firearm barrel, ammunition, or gun powder that was once owned by the military but is now owned by law-abiding citizens. The House`s version of this bill did not contain the same provision, so a House-Senate Joint Conference Committee will soon be established to iron out this and other differences between the two chambers` versions of this legislation. At this time, we do not have a final list of conferees, so continue to contact all of your federal lawmakers and urge them to ensure that Sec. 1062 of S. 1438 is not included in the final version of the "National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2002." You can reach your U.S. Senators at (202) 224-3121, and your U.S. Representative at (202) 225-3121. You can also find contact information by using the "Write Your Reps" tool.


Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Marvin J. Garbis struck down an attempt by the Montgomery County (Md.) Council to abolish gun shows held at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds Agricultural Center. The Council passed a law strictly regulating where gun shows could be held last May, capitulating to the demands of a handful of anti-gun extremists. However, the fairgrounds are privately owned, and because it is located in the City of Gaithersburg, the Council was prohibited by state law from imposing a specific ban on gun shows held there. In an attempt to circumvent this law, the Council added a provision that would prohibit county funding for any group that allows gun shows. Because the fairgrounds receives grants from the county, its board was compelled to prohibit any future gun shows. Judge Garbis held that, "Montgomery County has no power to regulate the sale of firearms within the City of Gaithersburg," and that the funding restriction passed by the council constituted "a gun sale regulation enacted by Montgomery County in the guise of a discretionary spending provision."

The intended target of the Montgomery County Council was Silverado Promotions, run by gun show promoter Frank Krasner. Silverado has held gun shows at the fairgrounds for a decade. It was Krasner`s suit, with assistance from NRA, that led to last week`s ruling. County officials have indicated that they intend to appeal this ruling, and we can expect anti-gun extremists to attempt to force the City of Gaithersburg to enact its own ban. NRA will continue to monitor this issue as it develops.



This Monday, October 15, the Yosemite Community College Board of Trustees will meet to decide the future of the Modesto Junior College firing range. This facility is used for law enforcement classes, youth safety training, California Hunter Safety courses, as well as numerous other purposes. In order for these worthwhile activities to continue, your help is needed. The Board of Trustees meeting will take place at Modesto Junior College, West Campus, located at 2201 Blue Gum Avenue, in Modesto, on Monday, October 15 at 5:00 p.m. For more information, please call NRA volunteer John Madden at (209) 529-9522. Please plan to attend and show support for the Modesto Junior College firing range!

On Wednesday, October 17, Assemblyman Phil Wyman (R-San Bernardino) will provide NRA members with an inside look at legislation affecting the pro-gun community and what we can expect to see before the Legislature in 2002. We hope you will take this opportunity to share your ideas, hear what`s happening in Sacramento, and find out what you can do to help elect candidates who will support the Second Amendment. The meeting will take place at the Palmdale Holiday Inn, 38630 Fifth St. West at 7:00 p.m.

On Thursday, October 18, Assemblyman Dick Dickerson (R-Redding) will provide NRA members with an insight into the legislature`s 2002 session. NRA-ILA Calif. State Liaison Ed Worley and Attorney Chuck Michel will also deliver an update on gun-related matters before the courts. This is your opportunity to hear what`s happening in Sacramento and learn how you can get involved in the fight to protect the Second Amendment in California! The event will take place at the Shadelands Arts Center, 111 N. Wiget Lane at Ygnacio Valley Road in Walnut Creek at 7:00 p.m.


Make plans to attend the "Sidewinder Pete" Memorial Cowboy Shoot on Sunday, October 28—a benefit for the family of New York State Fire Department`s Lieutenant Peter C. Martin. Lieutenant Martin, an NRA Life Member, is one of the missing heroes who rushed to the aid of the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center. The event, presented by the East End Regulators, Hole in the Wall Gang, and Shadowriders, will be held at the Pine Barrens Range at the Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, N.Y., and is scheduled to start at 8:00 a.m. All proceeds of this Memorial Cowboy Shoot—which will not only include local shooters, but many from across the country—will benefit his family. Out of state shooters can compete and support the event through a "Postal Match" system. Registration to shoot is $20, and registration forms can be found at sportsmenscourier.com. For more information, contact A. B. (Jim) Dupree at (631) 588-8495 or e-mail him at [email protected]. Alternate contact: Joseph Parkhill - FAX: (516) 221-7948.


The House Civil & Commercial Subcommittee will hold proponent and opponent testimony on the committee substitute bill to HB 274, NRA-backed Right to Carry legislation, next Wednesday, October 17, at 2:30 p.m. in room 313 of the Statehouse in Columbus. Since the bill will receive a vote at this hearing, it is important that gun owners attend and show their support for Right to Carry.


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.