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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 9, No. 2 1/11/2002


As reported in last week`s FAX Alert, an appellate court in Illinois allowed a reckless lawsuit against various gun manufacturers and distributors to proceed under the theory that the firearm industry was creating a public nuisance. On the heels of that misguided ruling, the Hunting & Shooting Sports Heritage Foundation (HSSHF) issued a press release noting that the group has committed its financial resources to an appeal of that case.

Robert Delfay, President and CEO of the Hunting and Shooting Sports Heritage Foundation commented, "This decision seems to totally ignore the fact that every step in the sale and distribution of a firearm is controlled and regulated by the federal government. Manufacturers, distributors and retailers of firearms must be federally licensed, and the retail purchaser must undergo an FBI background check before he or she can take possession of his or her firearm. It is just unfair and illogical to maintain that a manufacturer that supports and complies with all of these regulations can be held liable 10 or 15 years down the road if a criminal obtains and uses a firearm illegally."

"The court`s reasoning fits the textbook definition of arbitrariness. The principle it announces is lawless because it is incapable of being generalized, it is good for only this one instance," commented Daniel Polsby, law professor at George Mason University. "The Illinois General Assembly vigorously surveils and regulates the sale of firearms, but the court`s decision effectively sets all the balancing and negotiation and deliberation of the state`s constitutional lawmaking processes at naught. A blow is thus struck against both democratic practice and against the rights of peaceable taxpaying businesses and their customers. The crowning irony is, not a scintilla of public safety is bought with this expensive coin," Polsby said.

"This is a poorly reasoned decision that runs contrary to every other appellate court in the country," notes Lawrence G. Keane, National Shooting Sports Foundation vice president and general counsel. Keane continued, noting, "State Supreme Court decisions in New York, California, Florida, Connecticut and Louisiana have all concluded that manufacturers of legal, highly-regulated, non-defective products cannot be held legally responsible for the acts of criminals."

"If this extraordinary legal theory is allowed to go forward, it`s `Katie bar the door` for the manufacturer or retailer of any consumer product if that product`s use in a crime might be reasonably foreseen," Delfay said. "This ruling is doubtless being cheered by personal injury lawyers who can look forward to suing gasoline refiners, match manufacturers, auto makers, champagne bottlers, cutlery merchants and any other supplier of a legitimate consumer product for any foreseeable use of their products in crime."

We will be monitoring this case and related developments closely, and will keep you posted accordingly.


Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.), the incoming Democratic Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives, has hired a new communications director. The January 7 edition of "Roll Call" reports that Pelosi, who is vehemently anti-gun, has tapped former HCI (now the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence) mouthpiece, Brendan Daly, to carry the Whip’s message to the media. Among Daly’s previous jobs, he served as press secretary to another anti-gun Representative -- former U.S. Representative Gerry Studds (D-Mass.).

As Whip, Pelosi is the Democrats’ chief vote counter, responsible for lining up support for Democratic initiatives in the House -- including gun control bills. Serving in this position also makes Pelosi the second highest ranking member of the Democratic leadership in the House -- right behind Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.).

Despite a swirl of media reports following the 2000 elections that many in Democratic circles are re-thinking the party’s support for gun control, in light of recent electoral defeats due in large part to candidates’ support for restrictions on the rights of law-abiding gun owners, that message apparently has not resonated farther up the leadership chain.

If Pelosi is trying to send a message about the House leadership’s direction on gun issues, it has been heard loud and clear!


The NRA-ILA Grassroots Division and Utah gun owners lost a true friend with the passing of William Hippler, Sr., on January 4. Bill was a dedicated Second Amendment activist for decades, an avid sportsman, and called the ILA Grassroots Division on a daily basis to obtain and pass along information to ILA Grassroots staff to defend the Second Amendment. Bill will be missed, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.


During the 2002 NRA Annual Members Meeting and Exhibit, planned for Reno, Nevada, April 25 - 28, your NRA is looking for dedicated members to volunteer and assist with various projects necessary to stage another successful Annual Meeting. Traditionally, the NRA Annual Meeting is the most exciting and satisfying NRA event of the year. By joining our team of volunteers, you will play an integral role in putting the NRA’s best foot forward, while we are in the national spotlight.

There are several areas where you can volunteer: Membership Services, Fraternal Sales, Exhibitor Registration, Firearms Safety Inspection, and Airgun Range. NRA staff, Annual Meeting Exhibitors, and the tens of thousands of your fellow NRA members attending the Annual Meeting, will greatly appreciate any time or assistance you can lend. If you would like to volunteer your time, or would like more information, please contact: J.P. Nelson, Western Region Director, NRA Field Operations Division, P.O. Box 13220, Mesa, AZ 85216-3320, Office: (480) 357-4057, Fax: (480) 357-4074, e-mail: jpnelson@cableaz.com



If you have an e-mail address, but you still receive the NRA-ILA FAX Alert every Friday via your fax machine, we encourage you to switch over to our e-mail system. We can send e-mail at virtually no cost, while each fax incurs the cost of a long distance call, not to mention your cost in paper. E-mail also allows you more flexibility in relaying our information to others. If you would like to switch to e-mail delivery, just go to "Sign Up For Email." Once you start receiving our alerts via e-mail, call the Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683.



Members can attend a free meet and greet event for State Senator William J.

"Pete" Knight (R-17). The event will be held from7:00 - 9:00 p.m. onThursday, January 24th at theGreen Tree inVictorville. Senator Knight is a strong defender of gun rights in California, and this is a great opportunity to thank him for his efforts.For more information call (916) 446-2455.


In his State of the State Address, Governor Bill Owens (R) declared that the state should create a uniform system of issuing concealed carry permits. Colorado is currently one of only 11 states that allows local authorities discretion in the issuance of such permits.


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.