BATF OVERSIGHT HEARING RE-CAP
On Thursday, theHouse Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government held its oversight hearing on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF). In the witness chairs wereUnder Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement Jimmy Gurulé andBATF Director Bradley Buckles.
In addition to many other budget and management issues, subcommittee members questioned Buckles on two gun issues.
First, pro-gun Rep. John E. Sununu (R-N.H.) asked Buckles about the recent BATF regulations requiring import permits for non-immigrant aliens to bring guns into the U.S. Noting that his congressional district in New Hampshire includes large areas of hunting land popular with both U.S. and Canadian residents, Rep. Sununu began by asking Buckles what consultation BATF had with hunting and sporting groups, outfitters, and others affected by the new rules. Buckles replied that before September 11, a hunting license from any state was all that was required to bring a gun into the U.S., and that in tightening the requirement, BATF thought it had reached out to affected parties, but that problems had turned up, and that "perhaps we hadn’t reached out the way we thought we had." He also noted that the regulation was also published as a proposed rule so that full opportunity would be provided for public comment.
Rep. Sununu noted confusing and conflicting answers that Canadian shooters had received from the U.S. Customs Service about the new rules, and asked Buckles whether Customs had been consulted, and what guidance had been given to Customs for use at border crossings, and what steps could be taken to make the regulations more functional for Canadian visitors. Buckles answered that BATF was "ramping up" its Imports Branch to provide quick processing of permits. He also said he had notified Customs of the new rules, but that upon re-reading his letter to Customs, he thought that it may not have made clear the urgency of the impending changes and may have sounded too routine. Under Secretary Gurulé said that since it was his responsibility to oversee both agencies, he would make sure to sit down with Buckles and Commissioner of Customs Raymond Bonner to ensure that the rules were implemented more smoothly.
Rep. Sununu continued by asking whether the current Form 6, designed for permanent commercial importation of guns, was really the best process for temporary visitors. Buckles responded that since their "intent was not to hinder sportsmen" they were working on the process "on an expedited basis," and in response to a follow-up question, suggested it might be possible to complete the paperwork and related background checks at the border.
Later, Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.) noted that, as a hunter, he has had no problem taking guns to England, South Africa, and Argentina—all countries with much more restrictive gun laws than ours—and said he hoped that if they could have simple processes for visitors, we could, too. Rep. Sherwood also asked what would happen if Customs confiscated someone`s gun at the border due to confusion or lack of information or proper paperwork—could the visitor retrieve it before leaving the U.S.? Buckles said he wasn’t aware of anyone having guns confiscated at this point.
Members of the Committee will continue the oversight process as the BATF budget request makes its way through the process. Follow-up inquiries from the initial hearing are expected to include a detailed examination of BATF’s failures to provide the nation’s firearm retailers with the new Form 4473 by the date on which it was mandated to use.
YOUNG GUN CONTROL
<align=center>ACTIVIST ARRESTED IN DRUG BUST
, a 20-year old budding gun control activist, who led a post-Columbine protest at the White House, was recently arrested and charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. The story, which can be found at DenverPost.com (Feb. 24), noted that Gelt and five others were arrested in a dormitory at American University (AU), where police found opium, marijuana, and $15,000 cash.
Gelt was 18 in 1999, at the time the murderous rampage at Columbine High School prompted him to join Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic (SAFE)—an anti-gun advocacy group. Gelt organized 94 students from 31 Colorado schools to go to Washington to lobby Congress in support of more restrictions on the rights of law-abiding gun owners, and had a private meeting with Bill Clinton. Gelt had been very active in the anti-gun movement, writing articles for the Denver Post, and even delayed attending college for a year while on his crusade. The news story even reported that it was, in part, his anti-gun activism that convinced AU officials to accept him as a student.
Originally arrested on charges of opium distribution—a felony—the charges were reduced in court.
Although probably not a future candidate for gun ownership anyway, Gelt would be ineligible to legally purchase a firearm, as onBATF Form 4473, question 12(e) clearly asks"Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana...." Gelt’s father conceded he was aware his son was a"mild user of marijuana."
DELL AND OUR RIGHT TO ARMS
This week has seen a great deal of discussion on the Internet and via e-mail regarding the Dell Computer Corporation. It all started when the president of the American Pistolsmiths Guild, Inc., Jack Weigand of Weigand Combat Handguns, Inc., attempted to order a Dell notebook computer. But Dell had implemented a screening process (in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11) that included holding up orders to companies with certain words in their name. This screening process was designed to better ensure compliance with federal export laws. One of those words is "combat," and Mr. Weigand’s order was cancelled in the screening process, pending a follow-up by company staff. But in the case of Mr. Weigand, no such follow-up occurred, and when the concerned customer called Dell, he was told his order was cancelled. Mr Weigand naturally became concerned that Dell was opposed to the firearms industry.
When NRA became aware of this situation, we contacted Dell, and the company has been very responsive to our concerns. It also quickly contacted Mr. Weigand to offer an apology and an explanation as to why his order had been cancelled. Dell representatives have shown a genuine concern over the implication that it takes a position in the debate over firearms, and it has gone to great lengths to assure NRA, and Mr. Weigand, that the company is not interested in taking sides in this political discussion.
Additional concerns have been raised over Dell’s affiliation with a little-known online fundraising program called EduOrg.com—set up to help raise money for colleges, interest groups, and other non-profit organizations. The group has established separate websites to assist "educational institutions...politically conservative organizations, and...politically liberal organizations." The concern over Dell stems from the fact that it is included as part of EduOrg.com’s online virtual shopping mall, and one of the non-profit groups that could profit through EduOrg.com is the gun-ban lobby formerly known as "Handgun Control, Inc." (While HCI has officially changed its name, EduOrg.com, through its "politically liberal organizations" site, still lists the group under its old name.) When contacted about this, Dell officials stated they were looking into this partnership, but it should also be pointed out that Dell did not choose to be listed on HCI’s section, as it is simply automatically listed on the site of any organization that gets involved with this online fundraising system. In fact, one can also find Dell listed on all of the sites under the conservative heading. Such "affinity" programs have become commonplace in the era of the Internet, and generally do not reflect any given political bent on the part of participating vendors when they do not specifically benefit a single group or cause.
NRA will continue to explore these issues, but it would appear that Dell as a corporation does not support an anti-gun agenda, as some have been reporting. Rest assured that we will continue to report on any developments on this front. Read the letter from Michael Dell concerning this issue.
A LOOK AT THE STATES
Attorney General Bill Pryor
(R) recently announced that Georgia and Alaska will now honor Alabama carry permits, and vice versa. Alabama citizens now have another reason to appreciate the tireless efforts of their AG to protect and further their rights by implementing such reciprocity agreements.
Primary Election Day
is Tuesday, March 5. Please go to the polls and support pro-gun candidates. NRA members should have already received a list of NRA-PVF endorsed candidates for the primaries, but if you have not, or you have misplaced the list, please call NRA-ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683.
Last night, SB 116, the NRA-backed "Reckless Lawsuit Preemption" bill, passed the Senate on a 36-4 vote. It now moves to the House for consideration. Please contact your Representative at (785) 296-0111 and urge him to support SB 116.
On Sunday, February 24, Governor Bill Janklow (R) signed House Bill 1129, which establishes a system by which the Attorney General and the Secretary of State may enter into reciprocal agreements with states to recognize each others Right to Carry permits.
Don’t miss "Town Hall Meeting Day" on Tuesday, March 5. Please attend your town hall meeting and seek out your State Representative and State Senator. Tell your elected officials that you are an NRA member and sportsman, and that you are relying on them, in this election year, to support the issues that have a positive impact on sportsmen and gun owners. Important bills are now being debated at the State Capitol that could affect you. As NRA members, it is more important than ever to let your representatives know that it is up to them to lead the fight to protect our interests.
—which corrects an inconsistency within the current Right to Carry law that prohibits lawful carry permit holders from carrying concealed during hunting season—was approved by the House Judiciary Committee. Please contact your Representative at (304) 347-4836 and urge him to support HB 4315 when it comes before them next week for a floor vote.
Tuesday, March 5
, a rally supporting the future of Wisconsin Right to Carry will be held at the State Capitol in Madison. Rally participants will rally outside the North Wing of the State Capitol, on North Hamilton Street, at 12:00 noon. Please make plans to attend and show your support.