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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 8, No. 51 12/28/2001


Here are some of the top stories we brought you in the NRA-ILA FAX Alert in 2001. Next year will mark our ninth year of bringing you legislative and political updates via the NRA-ILA Fax Alert, which can also be received via e-mail, or online through the NRA-ILA website, www.NRAILA.org. To receive our Alert via e-mail, simply use our "Sign Up For Email" link, and follow the instructions. If you still receive the Alert by fax, please consider converting to e-mail to help NRA-ILA save funds. Please call (800) 392-8683 once you begin receiving the alerts via e-mail, and let us know we can remove you from the fax system.


The year kicked off with the departure of the most anti-gun administration in history, and the inauguration of our 43rd president, George W. Bush. While NRA-ILA rallied support for President Bush`s cabinet nominees John Ashcroft for Attorney General and Gale Norton for Secretary of the Interior, NRA-ILA also revealed that the state of Maryland had implemented a "ballistic fingerprinting" requirement that created a de facto handgun ban. Unable to comply with the requirement, many gun makers simply ceased shipping firearms to Maryland.


Thanks to the pressure brought on the U.S. Senate by NRA members, John Ashcroft was confirmed as Attorney General and Gale Norton was confirmed as Secretary of the Interior. The partisan attacks on these highly qualified nominees failed to derail their confirmations, despite the combined efforts of both the gun-ban lobby and radical environmentalist groups. Just a week after confirmation, AG Ashcroft publicly called for tougher enforcement of existing laws against criminals, rather than passing new laws that infringe upon law-abiding citizens` Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Also, the latest addition to the anti-gun community, a group that calls itself "Americans for Gun Safety" (AGS), launched its well-funded campaign to shut down traditional American gun shows. The group, which actually has zero members and nothing to do with gun safety programs, is the pet project of Internet billionaire and former HCI Board Member Andrew McKelvey.


Anti-gun organizations, having failed in recent years to advance their extremist agenda using the legislative process, unveiled a back-door plan to circumvent it. The Center to Prevent Handgun Violence (CPHV), the sister organization of HCI, announced it would encourage state attorneys general to abuse consumer protection laws and establish arbitrary, expensive, and sometimes impossible-to-achieve manufacturing and design criteria for firearms manufacturers. In addition, U.S. Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) renewed their attempt to severely restrict NRA`s ability to communicate with its members regarding lawmakers and their positions on firearm-related issues. Their legislation, "The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2001" (S. 27), passed out of the U.S. Senate, but has thus far failed in the House of Representatives. The possibility remains strong that this attack on the First Amendment will return next year.


The gun-ban lobby suffered two monumental judicial defeats, as the courts continued to reject their reckless lawsuit agenda. First, the Louisiana Supreme Court threw out the City of New Orleans` lawsuit against law-abiding firearms manufacturers. Then, the New York Court of Appeals rejected Hamilton v. Accu-Tek, another reckless lawsuit that was heavily supported by HCI and CPHV. These rulings added to the growing list of cases where courts have determined that firearms manufacturers cannot be held liable for the criminal actions of third parties.


On May 17, NRA-ILA Executive Director James Jay Baker received a letter from Attorney General John Ashcroft, which carefully laid out the Department of Justice`s (DOJ) position that the Second Amendment clearly protects an individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms. This letter marked a 180 degree change in policy from the Clinton-Reno DOJ, which had publicly supported the mythical "collective" rights theory promoted by anti-gun extremists. Also, U.S. Senator James Jeffords (I-Vt.) announced his decision to abandon the Republican party to become an independent, throwing control of the U.S. Senate to the Democratic Party. This resulted in pro-gun Senator Trent Lott (R-Miss.) being replaced as Majority Leader by anti-gunner Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), and the Senate Judiciary Committee falling under the control of three of the most rabid anti-gun extremists in the Senate: U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).


AG Ashcroft announced a proposal that would decrease the amount of time records of lawful gun purchasers generated through the National Instant Check System (NICS) can be kept to no more than 24 hours. The announcement was part of a package of proposals intended to ensure NICS operates as originally intended—effectively, instantly, and without any danger of it being abused as a mechanism to register law-abiding gun purchasers—and to improve the enforcement of existing laws, something NRA had called for throughout the ordeal of the Clinton-Gore Administration. In addition, the gun-ban lobby known as HCI announced it had changed its name to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, as it desperately seeks to gain public acceptance by trying to create the facade that it is something other than a group of anti-gun extremists. Also, the new president of the American Medical Association (AMA), Dr. Richard Corlin, announced at the AMA`s annual meeting that the organization will expand its focus to include political activism in the realm of promoting gun control.


The United Nations held its "Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons," and while the goal of many of the participants was clearly a full-scale assault on our Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the U.S. delegation, headed by U.S. Under Secretary John B. Bolton, stood firm. Bolton`s statement to the conference was clear and unmistakable, and the final product was a non-binding "Draft Programme of Action" that targets the "illicit trade in small arms," rather than the rights of America`s law-abiding gun owners—the true target of many involved with the conference.


Another month of devastating court losses for anti-gun extremists started with the California Supreme Court throwing out yet another reckless lawsuit, followed by the rejection of New York State`s suit against law-abiding gun makers, and culminating in the U.S. Court of Appeals dismissing an appeal of Hamilton v. Accu-Tek.


While NRA mourned with the rest of the nation over the loss of life from the attacks of September 11, anti-gun extremists moved hastily to exploit the situation for political gain, and began a drumbeat call for restrictions on the rights of law-abiding gun owners as their response to terrorism.


Perhaps the most significant development of 2001 occurred when the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to arms. Written by Chief Judge William Garwood, the 84-page decision in the case of U.S. v. Emerson carefully dissected the flaws in past court decisions relating to the Second Amendment, such as the oft mis-cited U.S. v Miller, and used copious historical evidence to support its conclusions. George Lund, a law professor at George Mason University, summed up the significance of the case when he called it "[T]he most important and favorable Second Amendment judicial decision in American history."


Firearm owners enjoyed a successful day at the polls in Virginia and New Jersey, where 92% and 82% of NRA-PVF-endorsed candidates, respectively, were elected to office. Unfortunately, Clinton Appointee Ann Brown, the departing Chair of the Consumer Products Safety Commission, initiated the process to recall certain Daisy Powerline BB guns just two days before her resignation became effective. Also, Senator John McCain set the stage for next year`s early legislative battles, as he promised to bring up his anti-gun show legislation, S. 890, as soon as possible when the Senate reconvenes in January.


The year ended with Attorney General John Ashcroft under attack from anti-gun extremists and their supporters in the media for simply obeying federal law. This was part of the shameless campaign, heavily promoted by anti-gun extremists, to exploit our nation`s legitimate fear over terrorism in order to further their gun-ban agenda. On a positive note, however, U.S. Representative Bob Stump (R-Ariz.) led the effort to strip from the "National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2002" a provision that sought to provide the Secretary of Defense with the authority to require "demilitarization" of any "significant military equipment" that has ever been owned by the Department of Defense. Known as Section 1062, the provision could have required all U.S. military surplus firearms (such as the venerable M1, M1 Carbine, and Model 1911, as well as all Civilian Marksmanship Program rifles, even "sporterized" surplus bolt-action Springfields!), firearm barrels, ammunition, and gun powder that had been lawfully acquired be rendered permanently inoperable.

<align=center>MONDAY AND TUESDAY, 12/31/01 & 1/1/02



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.