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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 9, No. 7 2/15/2002

HOUSE ABANDONS FREE SPEECH

 

After more than 15 hours of intense, often rancorous debate, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2356—the Shays-Meehan Campaign Finance "Reform" bill—on a vote of 240-189. This legislation now moves back to the U.S. Senate, which passed its own version of "reform" (S. 27) last year. If the Senate accepts H.R. 2356 as is, it will be sent straight to the White House. The two bills are slightly different, however, and if the Senate does not pass the House package, then both bills will likely be sent to a House-Senate Conference Committee to iron out the differences.

One thing both bills do have in common, though, is that they represent a direct attack on the First Amendment! Should either package become law, the voice of NRA and our 4.3 million members would be silenced during critical election periods. Both bills have First Amendment "blackout" provisions that would strictly regulate communication that "refers to" a federal candidate 30 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election. Any such communication would be prohibited unless the funds were to come from a segregated account to which individuals donate for that purpose. Both bills also stipulate that the names of all donors (i.e., NRA members), whose donations are above a certain limit, would be made public—a clear violation of the privacy rights of our members who contribute to NRA’s political efforts.

While NRA opposed the passage of H.R. 2356, our efforts to protect our ability to promote our pro-Second Amendment message also included supporting an amendment offered by U.S. Representative Chip Pickering (R-Miss.). The Pickering Amendment would have protected the free speech of those wishing to communicate for or against issues pertaining to the Second Amendment by defending Second Amendment discussion from the free speech restrictions of H.R. 2356, but it narrowly failed on a 209-219 vote. Please click here to find out how your Representative voted on this NRA-backed amendment, and contact him to thank him if he supported the Pickering Amendment, or to note your displeasure if he did not. If you are not sure who your U.S. Representative is, or to find contact information for any of your federal lawmakers, use our "Write Your Reps" feature.

 

As for the overall bill (H.R. 2356), to find out how your Representative voted on this anti-First Amendment bill, please click here. And again, be sure to communicate your sentiments accordingly to your Representative based on his vote on this anti-freedom measure.

The Senate now prepares to take up this debate yet again, although a strategy to defeat this onerous proposal has yet to crystallize. Rest assured NRA is monitoring this situation closely, and will call on the pro-gun community to help defeat this proposal if the opportunity arises. In the meantime, please be sure to contact your U.S. Senators to express your opposition to this bill. The "Write Your Reps" feature will assist you in contacting your Senators.

While the final outcome of this legislation is unknown, NRA is committed to its defeat, and if need be, will fight this assault on free speech all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States.

ASHCROFT TARGETS ILLEGAL ALIENS—
<align=center>PROTECTS LAW-ABIDING GUN PURCHASERS

 

On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced a number of new steps that will be taken to improve the efficiency of the National Instant Check System (NICS). Designed under the guidance of the Clinton-Gore Administration, the system contains serious flaws. Ashcroft’s first step was to instruct the FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) to use immigration records to check if a potential firearm purchaser is in the country illegally, and thus prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm.

The second step involved improving the efficiency of NICS to increase the percentage of immediate and final responses—either "proceed" or "deny"—on record checks, which would help to greatly diminish the number of "delay" responses that plague the system and keep law-abiding gun purchasers from taking possession of firearms.

The third step AG Ashcroft took was to promote state initiatives to update and automate their criminal history files, and he committed $141 million over the next three years to this effort.

While taking questions from the media, Ashcroft also reiterated his intent to uphold federal laws that forbid using records on transfers that are not denied through NICS for anything other than auditing the system.

In addition to announcing these steps to improve the operation of NICS, AG Ashcroft also announced the Justice Department would undertake a new initiative called Project Sentry, which is designed to ensure America’s children are safe from violent crime involving firearms while attending school.

NRA applauds AG Ashcroft for working to correct the flaws with NICS, and for reaffirming his commitment to ensuring the NICS system is not abused by those who would like to see it turned into a mechanism to implement an illegal registration scheme.

GEORGIA APPELLATE COURT
<align=center>DUMPS ATLANTA’S RECKLESS SUIT

 

The Court of Appeals of Georgia unanimously rejected the City of Atlanta’s reckless lawsuit against the firearms industry, ruling not only that state law preempted the suit, but that Atlanta’s case had not "pointed to any instance of unlawful conduct by the gun manufacturers…."

Presiding Judge Gary Blaylock Andrews, who wrote the opinion, found that the regulation of firearms is properly an issue of statewide concern and that Atlanta’s suit sought "to punish conduct which the State, through its regulations and statutory scheme, expressly allows and licenses." In dismissing the case, Judge Andrews noted the "legislature’s clear directive that municipalities may not attempt to regulate the gun industry…" and that the city’s suit was an improper attempt to usurp that power from the legislature.

Lawrence G. Keane, vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry’s major trade association, commented, "Every appellate court to decide a municipal suit against the firearms industry has ruled in our favor. We urge those mayors that have sued our industry to redirect their priorities and to emphasize cooperation with our industry rather than confrontation."

RECKLESS LAWSUIT PREEMPTION
<align=center>BILL GAINING SUPPORT IN THE HOUSE

 

H.R. 2037

—the bill introduced by U.S. Representatives Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Chris John (D-La.) that would shield the firearm industry from politically motivated lawsuits seeking to hold gun makers liable for the criminal misuse of their products—is making headway in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill now has 210 co-sponsors—only eight short of a straight majority that should ensure passage of this critical legislative remedy to the anti-gun lobby’s flagrant abuse of our legal system.

The following 18 House members are considered possible co-sponsors, and NRA members in their districts are urged to contact them and request their support. Michael Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), Nathan Deal (R-Ga.), Jennifer Dunn (R-Wash.), Mark Foley (R-Fla.), Porter Goss (R-Fla.), Kay Granger (R-Tex.), Mark Green (R-Wisc.), Baron Hill (D-Ind.), Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), Dan Miller (R-Fla.), Thomas Petri (R-Wisc.), Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), Nick Smith (R-Mich.), and Jerry Weller (R-Ill.). To check to see if any of these lawmakers represent you, or to find contact information for them, use our "Write your Reps" tool.

HSSHF PRESENTS ILA WITH AWARD

 

The 2002 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show and Conference (S.H.O.T. Show)—the world’s premier exposition of firearms, ammunition, archery, cutlery, outdoor apparel, optics, camping, and related products and services—was held February 2-5 in Las Vegas, Nev., and this year’s event was the second best attended show ever. NRA representatives attend the show every year, and this year NRA-ILA was honored to be presented the new "Noblest Sport Award" by the Hunting and Shooting Sports Heritage Foundation (HSSHF), which stated:

"In recognition and grateful appreciation of an exemplary defense of our firearms freedoms through the passage, in a majority of states, of historic legislation barring reckless litigation against the firearms industry."

Bob Delfay, the President and CEO of the HSSHF, gave the award to NRA-ILA Executive Director James Jay Baker, who thanked NRA-ILA Deputy Executive Director Patrick O’Malley, NRA-ILA State & Local Affairs Director Randy Kozuch, the entire NRA-ILA staff, and NRA’s 4.3 million members for their efforts in passing reckless lawsuit preemption legislation in 27 states.

NRA WELCOMES NEW
<align=center>DIRECTOR OF USF&WS

 

Steven A. Williams

, who has a long history of supporting our hunting and shooting sports traditions, has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the new Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USF&WS). Williams, who formerly served as the head of the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife and Parks, has aggressively sought increased federal funding for state conservation efforts, and has been involved in developing outreach programs to boost participation in hunting through the recruitment of new participants and the retention of veteran hunters. He also helped establish (and chaired) the Hunting/Shooting Sports Participation Committee of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The confirmation of Steven Williams means that hunters and other sportsmen will once again be treated as partners by the USF&WS. This represents a stark contrast to the cold-shoulder treatment received by hunters and outdoorsmen under the Clinton-Gore Administration’s USF&WS directors, who seemed solely interested in hearing from environmental extremists.

ALERT FOR VISITING SHOOTERS,
<align=center>HUNTERS AND RELATED BUSINESSPEOPLE

 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) has announced restrictive new rules on possession of firearms by visitors to the United States. The new rules implement a 1998 law that prohibits possession or purchase of firearms by most non-immigrant aliens such as tourists, students, and temporary workers. There are exemptions for licensed hunters, law enforcement officers on official business, and certain other foreign officials. However, when the rules go into effect on February 19, 2002, all foreign visitors (other than law enforcement officers and foreign government officials) seeking to bring a firearm into the United States will be required to apply for an import permit from BATF’s Imports Branch. Because approval of import permits can take several months, anyone planning to visit the United States to shoot, hunt, or attend sporting trade shows should contact BATF’s Imports Branch immediately to ask about this procedure. You may call the Imports Branch at (202) 927-8320.

To read the new rules, see pages 5422-5429 of the Federal Register for Tuesday, February 5, available online at http://www.atf.treas.gov/regulations/td471.pdf.

 

While the rules are going into effect on a "temporary" basis in less than two weeks, they are also subject to a public comment period, so please make known your views on this issue. Make sure your comments refer to "Notice No. 935" and that they are received at BATF on or before May 6, 2002. Your signed comments, up to three pages long, may be sent by fax to: (202)-927-8602. Comments may also be e-mailed to: nprm@atfhq.atf.treas.gov. E-mailed comments must contain your name, mailing address, and e-mail address, and must be no more than three pages long when printed. More detailed comments may be mailed to:

Chief, Regulations Division
<align=justify>Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
<align=justify>P.O. Box 50221
<align=justify>Washington, DC 20091-0221
<align=justify>Attn: Notice No. 935

The National Rifle Association of America will work with the Administration and the Congress in an effort to ensure that the implementation of this law does not burden law-abiding visitors to the U.S. and the businesses that depend on them. If your visit to the United States is obstructed by these new regulations, please contact the NRA’s Office of Legislative Counsel at (703) 267-1160.

 

A LOOK AT THE STATES

ALASKA

 

Senate Bill 242, which seeks to amend Alaska’s Right to Carry law so that permits from all other states would be honored, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week on a 5-0 vote. Existing law charges the Department of Public Safety with determining and publicizing which states currently meet Alaska’s criteria for recognition. DPS inaction is what led to the introduction of SB 242. During the hearing, DPS faced tough questioning and was so much on the defensive, they never got any points across in opposition to the bill. Faced with this bill, DPS has finally started complying with existing law and has increased the list of recognized states from seven to 11 in the last two weeks, with more likely to come in the near future. SB 242 will be heard on the Senate floor next week, so contact your Senator through his Local Legislative Information Office and urge him to support SB 242. Also, House Bill 346, the companion bill to SB 242, will be heard in the House State Affairs Committee next Thursday, so contact your State Representative as well.

COLORADO

Senator Ken Chlouber’s (R-4) bill to establish a uniform Right to Carry system died in committee this week, but a House version sponsored by Rep. Dave Schultheis (R-22) passed out of committee and will now be considered by the full House. Contact your Representative at (800) 811-7647 and urge him to support HB 1242.

KANSAS

SB 116, the NRA-backed Reckless Lawsuit Preemption bill, will soon be debated on the Senate floor. Call your Senator at (785) 296-2456 and urge him to support SB 116.

MINNESOTA

The NRA-backed Right to Carry bill—The Minnesota Personal Protection Act—came one step closer to final passage in the Senate this week when the chamber deadlocked at 33-33 on a motion to bring the bill up for consideration. Last year, the bill failed by a 34-32 margin. Clearly, efforts to bring pressure on those Senators who voted against the bill last year are working. It is critical that you continue to contact your Senator and urge him to vote in favor of the Personal Protection Act when it comes up for a vote again. Because the 33-33 vote was on a motion for consideration, pro-gun forces can ask for consideration again at any time.

MISSISSIPPI

The House has passed HB 764, which seeks to repeal a long-standing state law requiring licensed firearm dealers to keep a registry of ammunition purchases. The bill now moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration. Call your State Senator at (601) 359-3770 and urge him to support HB 764.

MISSOURI

The Special Committee on Sportsmanship, Safety & Firearms will vote Wednesday, February 20, on HB 1344, the "Glovebox Carry" bill, and HB 1729, a Right to Carry bill. The committee will also hold hearings on Project Exile and NRA-backed Reckless Lawsuit Preemption legislation. Call your Representative at (573) 751-3659 and urge them to support these bills.

NEW MEXICO

The legislature adjourned yesterday from its 30-day session, having passed HB 112, NRA-backed shooting range protection legislation, earlier in the week. HB 112, sponsored by Representative Larry Larranaga (R-27) and Senator Phil A. Griego (D-39), now heads to Governor Gary Johnson (R) for his expected signature. This will make New Mexico the 45th state to adopt a range protection law.

OHIO

The House Civil and Commercial Law Committee will be accepting proponent testimony on HB 303 (preemption legislation) on Wednesday, February 20, at 9:30 a.m. in Room 114 Statehouse. HB 303 will ensure only the state legislature can pass laws regulating firearms, thus prohibiting municipalities from passing their own restrictions. In addition, the revised sub-committee version of House Bill 274, the NRA-backed Right to Carry bill, will be presented to the committee. Please make plans to attend and address the committee on HB 303.

 

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.