Readers of the FAX Alert may recall the name Judge Robert Ruehlman. In 1999, Judge Ruehlman dismissed a lawsuit brought by the City of Cincinnati that tried to hold gun manufacturers accountable for the city’s costs to treat victims of gun violence.
Last week, Judge Ruehlman was back in the news. On January 10, he declared Ohio’s current ban on Right To Carry unconstitutional. Ohio Attorney General Betty D. Montgomery (R) then accommodated a request by the Hamilton County Court of Appeals by issuing a stay forbidding the ban’s enforcement.
In his ruling, Judge Ruehlman noted that Ohio’s current prohibition on Right To Carry is "contrary to their (the plaintiffs’) Ohio Constitutional right." He further commented, "Amidst all the baying from gun opponents is the irrefutable fact that there will always be people in our society who refuse to follow any rules and who can never be reasoned with or rehabilitated." The Judge’s ruling was probably best summed up when he said, "There is no doubt that the very thought a potential victim might possess a firearm deters that element of our society that cares nothing about laws or human life but rather understands only one thing -- brute force."
The gun ban lobby formerly known as HCI was quick to criticize the Judge’s ruling. In typical knee-jerk reaction, Dennis Hennigan, who serves as the Director of the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project, mused in a press release, "The judge’s ruling runs counter to common-sense....Unless it is corrected on appeal, this decision not only places Cincinnati law enforcement at risk, it endangers the lives of ordinary citizens."
The ruling shed new light on the debate before the Ohio House of Representatives, as it prepares to vote on HB 274, an NRA-supported bill that would allow law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm for self-defense if they meet certain requirements including a background check and firearm training. Bill sponsor Rep. Jim Aslanides (R-95), said he was "elated" by the court’s decision, and that it "exemplifies that we need to construct a bill that is palatable to the citizens of Ohio." NRA members in Ohio are urged to contact the Ohio House Representatives at (614) 466-3357 to voice their support for HB 274. Members can also find and contact their individual Representative using our "Write Your Reps" feature.
Meanwhile, on January 11, the Associated Press reported the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the City of Philadelphia’s suit that sought to hold firearm manufacturers liable for the acts of that city’s criminals. Upholding a federal judge’s dismissal of the litigation, the Court ruled gun makers "are under no legal duty to protect citizens from the deliberate and unlawful use of their products." As with other city lawsuits, Philadelphia was seeking financial compensation, blaming gun makers for including insufficient mechanical safety devices with their guns, "flooding" markets with guns the city claimed would be used by criminals, supplying firearms to disreputable dealers, and failing to mandate that dealers ration gun purchases. In a story on the Philadelphia suit, Best`s Insurance News (Jan. 14) notes the court, on January 11, ruled that "there is a weak causal connection between the gun manufacturers` conduct and the city`s and organizational plaintiffs` injuries." Philadelphia officials are mulling yet another wasteful appeal.
NRA TO AGS -- WELCOME TO THE DEBATE
For nearly 15 years, NRA has been raising issues relating to deficiencies in the nation’s criminal record-keeping system. This issue took on even more relevance after the Brady Act’s five-day waiting period, "sunsetted" into the NRA-backed instant check system in 1998. This week, Americans for Gun Safety (AGS) released a "report" parroting much of NRA’s positions for the past decade and a half.
NRA chief lobbyist, James Baker, noted during congressional testimony on S. 466, "The Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1987," "with only a ‘name check’ being conducted, all that can be determined is whether a person with that name has a criminal history. There is no way to verify that the person in front of you is who he or she purports to be." Identification fraud continues to be a national problem, revealed most recently on September 11.
Speaking specifically to the AGS "study," Joe Case, spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery, said, "This group tries to paint the picture that nothing`s being done, especially on the accuracy of the automated data system. That`s just absolutely false." These comments were echoed by South Carolina Attorney General Charlie Condon (R), who noted, "It`s false information. "I think we`re doing a good job in terms of checking people appropriately. ... We don`t need gun control, we need criminal control."
It’s rather duplicitous for AGS to make the claims it cites in its own "study" given the fact that their senior staffers were in strategic government positions to assure the integrity of the National Instant Check System (NICS) during its inception. Matt Bennett was a Clinton White House political aide; Jim Kessler, AGS Legislative Director, was gun adviser to Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y).; and AGS President Jonathan Cowan, was Chief of Staff to self-appointed gun czar Andrew Cuomo. While noteworthy, but not surprising, Kessler’s former boss, Senator Schumer, has not advocated NICS improvements, or taken any steps to oversee its effective implementation, but has only attempted to exploit NICS to establish national registration.
NRA believes, and has said all along, that it is vital that the NICS database be accurate and comprehensive. It is also important to make sure the NICS database isn’t bogged down with irrelevant data. The integrity of the database has to be precise for the purpose for which it was built -- that is, any gun sale disqualification should be based solely on accurate and complete disqualifying information.
NRA has long supported state efforts to improve and automate records necessary for NICS and has supported federal appropriations for that purpose, but would emphasize that these expenditures be thoroughly audited to ensure that they are properly spent. NRA believes further that congressional action would be helpful in attempting to bring together law enforcement and the mental health community in reaching agreement to supply disqualifying mental health records. And we support the concept that non-citizens in America on tourist, student, or non-immigrant visas have their visa status accessible by NICS to preclude gun purchases by these ineligible individuals.
AGS SHOWS TRUE COLORS -- AGAIN
This past weekend, the well-heeled lobbyists at AGS hosted a junket for congressional staffers who were wined and dined in Richmond, Va., and then escorted to a gun show by AGS staff. The observations of one congressional staffer in attendance are telling.
He said, "From the beginning of the trip, AGS stated their agenda as wanting to close the ‘gun show loophole,’ and nothing else, and after the ‘loophole’ is closed AGS will no longer exist. In reality, their agenda is much like the Violence Policy Center`s and other anti-self-defense organizations’ -- national registration and licensing and the eventual outlawing of firearms....[a]ll they did was alienate themselves from their stated policy positions of sensible gun ownership. It was apparent on the trip AGS clearly advocates gun registration and the eventual outlawing of all firearms. What was accomplished on the trip was nothing other than showing gun shows are not frightening nor illegal."
FREEDOM FRIENDLY SKIES?
With passage by Congress of the "Aviation Security Act," the move to allow properly trained commercial pilots, co-pilots, and flight engineers to carry firearms aboard commercial airplanes shifted to the regulatory phase.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently seeking comments on this proposal. The deadline to submit your comments to FAA is February 14, 2002. Please submit your comments to: Public Docket Office, Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Room PL-401, Washington, D.C., 20590-0001. If using the Internet, you may forward your comments to: http://dmses.dot.gov/submit/BlankDSS.asp. When submitting your comments, make sure to identify the docket number of this rulemaking. The Docket No. is FAA-2001-111229; the title is "Firearms, Less-Than-Lethal Weapons, and Emergency Services on Commercial Air Flights."
If this sound proposal is to become a reality, your active participation, by sending the FAA your comments, is critical!
With many hunters’ and sportsmen’s penchant for SUVs to reach their favorite hunting spots, a recent television commercial aired by Jeep (a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler) raised the hackles of many in the hunting community. So much so that DaimlerChrysler was flooded with complaints and an on-line petition was circulated protesting the ad.
In the commercial, titled "Deer Hunter," a Jeep is driven through a wooded area with two deer tied to the top of the vehicle. As the Jeep drives by, hunters in camouflage are shown in the woods, in close proximity to each other and the road, admiring the deer. The Jeep then drives to an area marked with a "NO HUNTING" sign. The Jeep stops, the man gets out and releases the deer that appeared to be dead. The driver tells the deer they are safe, and the deer bound away. In the background, other Jeep owners are shown doing the same thing.
The ad obviously portrays hunters in a negative light, and apparently DaimlerChrysler heard the voices of sportsmen loudly and clearly, as the ad has been pulled. "We did not anticipate this story line would evoke such negative emotion among some viewers," stated Jeff Bell, Vice President of Marketing Communications for DaimlerChrysler. "Obviously we underestimated the sensitivity of this issue. [B]ecause this is so emotionally charged, we will no longer continue this campaign."
A LOOK AT THE STATES
This week, Sen. Ken Chlouber (R-4) introduced a NRA-backed uniform Right to Carry bill that would reform Colorado’s current patchwork system.
House Bill 1129
, the NRA-supported Right to Carry Reciprocity bill has been introduced and referred to the House State Affairs Cmte., where it will be heard as early as next week. To find out how you can best assist in the passage of this very important legislation, please contact David Conway, Leg. Affairs Dir. of the SD Shooting Sports Assc. at (605)787-5713 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
An interim committee of the legislature voted to table two anti-gun bills this week. The first would have placed Draconian restrictions on gun shows, and the second would have repealed the state’s preemption law, allowing local authorities to enact a host of restrictive ordinances and regulations.
The state’s proposed budget is now under consideration in the House Appropriations and Sen. Finance Cmtes., that includes dramatic reductions in the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ budget. These cuts could lead to a decimation of lands and facilities available to Virginia sportsmen. Please contact your Del. and Sen. at (804) 786-0000, and urge them to maintain the Department’s current budget. You may locate and contact your lawmakers by using the "Write Your Reps" feature.