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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 9, No. 12 3/22/2002

SARAH’S SHOCKING DISCLOSURE

Sarah Brady, Chair of the gun-ban lobby formerly known as HCI, apparently broke no law when, as revealed in her soon-to-be released book, she bought a hunting rifle at a Delaware gun shop for her son, who was then 18. The Daily News (N.Y.), which ran a March 22 story saying Brady may have skirted Delaware law, has issued a retraction after the Delaware Department of Justice told the paper that the Department had misinterpreted the law in talking to its reporter.

This flap highlights one interesting point. The fact is that there are already so many laws in America that regulate firearms that even the nation’s foremost advocate of passing more laws and the people charged with enforcing those on the books may not be able to keep track of them.

Some, no doubt, will be shocked to learn of the firearm purchase by someone like Sarah Brady. NRA-ILA Executive Director James Jay Baker Baker observed, "It’s obviously interesting that Sarah would be purchasing firearms of any kind for anybody, given her championing of restrictive guns laws for everyone." Considering that she and her organization regularly claim that "the safest thing [to do] is not to keep a gun in the home," one wonders whether her son follows his mother’s advice? Or maybe he simply follows long-established firearm safety and storage practices that keep responsible gun owners and their families perfectly safe when they keep firearms in their homes. And there are also the Brady warnings about "children" and firearms. These gun-ban lobbyists regularly include individuals as old as 19 (and sometimes older) in their statistics for "children."

SENATE PASSES
<align=center>CAMPAIGN FINANCE "REFORM"

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate joined the House in assaulting free speech when it passed H.R. 2356—the Shays-Meehan Campaign Finance "Reform" bill—on a vote of 60-40. Congressional opponents to this attack on the First Amendment have vowed to challenge it in the courts, and U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), one of the most vocal opponents of this bill, has already assembled a team of attorneys, including former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, to mount a legal challenge. NRA also remains committed to protecting its ability to exercise free speech and ensuring the privacy of its members, and your Association will fight this assault on the First Amendment all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, if necessary.

HOUSE RESOURCE COMMITTEE
<align=center>PROBES CONTAMINATED LYNX STUDY

On March 6, the House Resources Committee, Chaired by U.S. Representative James Hansen (R-Utah), heard testimony on the scandal surrounding the National Lynx Study—a study tainted by officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and Washington State’s Department of Fish & Wildlife when they were reported to have planted evidence. The study—which could impact 15 states and 57 national parks—seeks to determine whether there are populations of Canada Lynx living in the United States and whether they should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The controversy centers around three hair samples clipped from a captured lynx that were planted in three separate areas of the study area within Washington State. Two of the areas had never been known to have a lynx population. These samples were then submitted to the lab at the University of Montana as study data for DNA testing. When questioned as to why they planted these illegitimate samples, the biologists involved claimed that they did not trust the lab, and that they were simply "testing" the facility. The University’s lab director indicated that there was no justification for the biologists to "test" his lab or his methodology.

But while federal studies often have protocols that allow for blind testing of labs, the researchers did not follow what the National Lynx Study had proscribed for testing lab methodology. Furthermore, while the researchers claimed they intended to tell the lab of the false samples, the lab was never notified, and the study did not provide a vehicle or opportunity for such notification. Once the false samples were delivered to the lab and confirmed to be lynx hairs, those samples would become a part of the survey. We may never know the true motivation of the researchers, or their true intentions, but we do know their questionable actions were not brought to light until one scientist involved reported this information to a superior the day before his retirement.

U.S. Representative Scott McInnis (R-Colo.) was the standard-bearer for scientific integrity during the hearings, but several lawmakers weighed in to try to determine what may have led researchers to act so outrageously. U.S. Representative Greg Waldon (R-Ore.) likened the actions of the biologists to that of a U.S. Congressman who, after being caught accepting bribes from undercover FBI agents during the ABSCAM investigation begun in the late 70s, claimed he was conducting his own private "study." Rep. McInnis was just as harsh, comparing what the researchers did to a corrupt police officer who plants evidence in order to secure a conviction.

While the study will continue, and has been adjusted to account for the fraudulent samples, the reckless and possibly criminal actions of these scientists could have jeopardized the public use of millions of acres of land in the northern United States. NRA applauds the actions of the Resource Committee thus far, and NRA-ILA Executive Director James Jay Baker sent a letter of thanks to Reps. Hansen and McInnis for leading this effort. Baker also expressed NRA’s support for punishing those involved with creating this controversy, writing, "We...support you in your efforts to ensure that punishment of the researchers is commensurate with their actions. Appropriate punishment of those involved will send a clear message that the federal government cannot and will not tolerate irresponsible behavior, especially when the public use of our nation’s natural resources hangs in the balance." We will be sure to report any additional developments on this front, and we anticipate that there could be additional hearings still to come.

TRIGGER LOCK LAW
<align=center>RULED "NULL AND VOID"

In an opinion handed down on Wednesday, the Florida Court of Appeal for the 3rd District found the trigger-lock ordinance of the City of South Miami "null and void" under Florida’s preemption statute. The lawsuit against the ordinance was brought by the NRA, Unified Sportsmen of Florida, and individual plaintiffs. The ordinance—which was proposed by Miami-Dade’s anti-gun Mayor Alex Penelas and supported by an opinion issued by Florida’s anti-gun Attorney General Bob Butterworth—purported to require that every firearm, without exception, be stored with a trigger lock. No exception existed for firearms stored in a safe, antiques, or firearms kept accessible for self defense.

The trial court had originally dismissed the suit as "unripe" because no person had been prosecuted yet, but the Court of Appeal reversed that decision, not only deciding that the case was ripe for decision, but also ruling on the merits that the ordinance is invalid. The case was sent back to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with the opinion, meaning a formal judgment in favor of the plaintiffs (NRA and law-abiding gun owners) and against the City must be entered by the trial judge.

NRA Past President Marion P. Hammer, commenting on the ruling, stated, "City and county officials are not above the law. There was really no other way [the court] could rule because the statutes are abundantly clear." Similar trigger-lock ordinances have been passed by other jurisdictions besides the City of South Miami, and the decision of the Court of Appeal in this case makes clear that these ordinances are also without legal authority.

ATTEND TOWN HALL MEETINGS

Congress is scheduled to go on break for its Spring District Work Period from March 25 until April 5. Please contact your lawmakers’ district offices and ask if or when they plan to hold town hall meetings during the Spring recess. If you do not know the number for your lawmakers’ district offices, you can use our "Write Your Reps" tool, or call the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683.

 

In addition to attending meetings and speaking out in support of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms, please forward the dates, times, and locations of any town hall meetings to your family members and friends who support the Second Amendment, and to the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division, so we may share this information with the pro-gun community. Please forward this information to the Grassroots Division by calling our toll-free number, faxing to (703) 267-3918, or by sending an e-mail to townhall@nrahq.org. You can find listings of the town hall meetings we know about by clicking here.

 

 

A LOOK AT THE STATES

 

ARIZONA:

SB 1008, NRA-backed Range Protection legislation, passed the full Senate by a vote of 17-10. It now heads to a House committee for action. HB 2131, the anti-gun bill sponsored by the gun control group known as Americans for Gun Safety, passed out of committee and could be headed to the House floor for consideration. The bill’s "crime gun tracing" mandate is a precursor to future calls to implement full registration and ban private firearms sales. It poses significant dangers to the future of Arizona’s firearms freedoms. Call your Representative and tell him to strongly oppose HB 2131, Crime Gun Interdiction, and support SB 1008, Range Protection.

COLORADO:

Right to Carry has garnered a second chance in Colorado this week. Senate President Matsunaka (D-15) has agreed to get behind a bipartisan Right to Carry bill sponsored by Rep. Lois Tochtrop (D-34) and Sen. Ken Chlouber (R-4), despite the fact that the Senate killed an earlier bill this session. The new bill will be moving quickly through the House next week, so it is vital that members call their Representatives and urge them to support this bill. The House Information line is (303) 866-2904.A note of special thanks to Rep. Al White (R-56) who was instrumental in the introduction of this legislation. Please take a moment to call and thank him for putting the interests of law-abiding gun owners first.

 

KANSAS:

SB 116, the NRA-support Reckless Lawsuit Preemption bill, is awaiting action on the House floor. House Speaker Kent Glasscock (R-62), who opposed similar legislation in 1999, has the power to put it on the calendar for a vote. Please call Speaker Glasscock at (785) 296-2302 and encourage him to put SB 116 on the calendar for a House floor vote.

MISSOURI:

Next week is an important one for Missouri gun owners. Senator Cauthorn’s (R-18) Right to Carry bill, SB 938, and SB 689, Senator Gibbon’s (R-15) bill that establishes Project Exile, will be debated in the Senate on Monday, March 25. Call your Senator at (573) 751- 3824 and tell him to support these bills on the floor. HB 1344—the bill sponsored by Rep. Wayne Crump (D-152) that seeks to allow the carrying of a concealable firearm in a vehicle and authorizes a Project Exile program—was approved by the full House this week. This bill now moves to the Senate side for consideration. Call (573) 751-2101 to thank Rep. Crump for his work on our behalf.

NEBRASKA:

Your calls worked! The Omaha City Council has dropped its proposal that would allow the sheriff to deny firearms permits for arbitrary reasons. It is possible that another proposal could surface in the near future, but for now, gun owners spoke loudly and were heard clearly.

TENNESSEE:

Gun owners have one last week to get our bills out of the House Criminal Practice Subcommittee. HB 2595 seeks to allow holders of a valid Right to Carry permit to carry their handguns where alcoholic beverages are sold, as long as the carrier is not consuming alcohol. HB 2598 seeks to authorize citizens from other states to obtain a Tennessee Right to Carry permit. HB 2599 would establishing that Tennessee will recognize all 43 states that have handgun carry permit laws, which would significantly increase the number of states that recognize Tennessee Right to Carry permits. Please call your Representative at (615) 741-2901 and urge him to support these bills.

 

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.