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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 9, No. 13 3/29/2002



Hours after campaign finance "reform"—officially known as the "Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act" (BCRA)—was signed into law on Wednesday, NRA made good on its promise to launch a legal challenge to this attack on the First Amendment. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and NRA-ILA Executive Director James Jay Baker issued a joint statement announcing the filing of the NRA suit, stating, "When the federal courthouse opened for business today, NRA was there—we have filed suit to invalidate this unconstitutional infringement on the First Amendment rights of the NRA and our four million members nationwide."

The statement went on to say, "We are proud to be the first plaintiff to formally ask the federal court to invalidate these new limits on the political speech of ordinary citizens because we believe that this law cannot be allowed to stand—not even for a moment. Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) said on the floor of the United States Senate during the campaign finance debate that it was his intention to silence the NRA. As a direct and intentional target of this law, NRA has no choice but to protect our right to be heard."

"Through this law," the statement continued, "Congress has essentially granted speech licenses to giant corporate conglomerates such as Viacom, Disney Corporation and General Electric Company by allowing those corporations unlimited rights to spend money talking about issues and candidates, while silencing the voices of ordinary citizens and citizens groups such as NRA. Why should corporations such as these media conglomerates, all of which own multiple non-news business enterprises and spend millions of dollars lobbying Congress—why should those corporations be allowed to spend whatever they wish, whenever they wish, saying whatever they wish regarding any issue or candidate—when a non-profit citizens organizations such as ours is prohibited from even responding via the broadcast media?"

Click here for a complete copy of Wednesday’s joint statement from LaPierre and Baker.

Also of interest is one of the attorneys who has been selected to defend this legislative attack on the First Amendment. Former U.S. Solicitor General Seth Waxman will be an integral part of the legal team chosen by Congressional proponents of the BCRA to defend the new law. Waxman, you will recall, was the Solicitor General under Bill Clinton who wrote the now infamous letter that confirmed the Clinton-Gore Administration’s belief that law-abiding citizens have "no personal constitutional right, under the Second Amendment, to own or to use a gun." (Click here to read Waxman`s letter) Perhaps his argument will now be that law-abiding citizens and the organizations that represent them have no personal constitutional right, under the First Amendment, to exercise political free speech!

The overturn of campaign finance "reform" provisions that restrict our rights will continue to remain a top priority for NRA, and we will report further developments on this front.



became the first city to voluntarily abandon its baseless, reckless lawsuit against the firearm industry on Wednesday. The Dow Jones International News reported on Thursday that Mayor Thomas Menino(D) claimed the cost of going to trial was too high, and the growing list of court rulings rejecting similar cases limited the "evidence" the city would be able to present. As expected, though, reckless lawsuit proponents, including Mayor Menino, have tried to spin the failure of Boston’s nearly three-year harassment campaign against law-abiding gun makers as some sort of victory.

Menino claimed that the Boston suit forced gun makers "to take small steps to address our concerns." But Lawrence G. Keane, vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc. (NSSF)—a defendant in the case— stated, "No concessions were made in exchange for the city’s actions. We are extremely pleased with the suit’s dismissal, but it is unfortunate and inappropriate that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino mischaracterizes industry safety efforts as being prompted by the city’s suit. The truth is that industry has been actively promoting nationwide safety efforts for decades, a fact previously acknowledged by the mayor."

According to the Dow Jones International News, Menino even tried to claim that the decision by gun makers to include a free locking device with the sale of each new firearm aided the plaintiffs in their decision, even though most gun makers had already decided to do this in 1997, nearly two years before Boston filed its suit, if not before.

NRA-ILA Executive Director James Jay Baker said of the decision to drop the suit, "It’s a lesson that other cities ought to take. Criminals are responsible for their own actions, not manufacturers of legal products." Baker also commented, "I don’t think they ever should have brought it, and the fact they agreed to have it dismissed with prejudice, meaning they can’t bring it up again, is a pretty clear indication that they had no case to start with."

Unfortunately, other cities don’t seem to be learning anything from the repeated failures of the reckless lawsuit campaign. As Boston decided, on Wednesday, it could no longer afford to waste taxpayer money on a suit it simply could not win, on Thursday, Jersey City filed its own suit.

Another court case in Massachusetts had a more troubling outcome. On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit dismissed a challenge to "Massachusetts’ Gun Control Act of 1998" as "unripe." The case centered around a provision of the ‘98 Act that requires anyone who possesses or wishes to possess a "large capacity weapon" or a "large capacity feeding device" to obtain a Class A license. The court held that the plaintiffs had not suffered hardship because they could apply for a license to possess the regulated items, so the case was not ripe for review. The decision leaves open and unresolved serious questions regarding how Massachusetts defines "large capacity weapons" and "large capacity feeding devices." This means that any otherwise law-abiding citizen, who is unable to determine if his firearm or feeding device is subject to the licensing requirement, could face criminal prosecution if he fails to acquire the license. The penalty for an honest mistake in this case is imprisonment for not less than 2 ½ years nor more than 10 years. The bottom line is, given the court’s unwillingness to decide in this civil case whether the terms at issue are unconstitutionally vague, such determinations will be made through criminal prosecutions.

The court also ludicrously upheld a ban on licensed gun clubs shooting at human-shaped silhouette targets, claiming that this prohibition aided the state in "preventing gun fatalities."


Sarah Brady

, Chair of the gun-ban lobby formerly known as HCI, apparently broke no law when, as revealed in her recently 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, however. 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.

But this story remains at least moderately controversial, as there is some dispute over the accuracy of Brady’s published account of her purchase. According to an exclusive NRALIVE.com interview with the gun store owner who completed the transaction, Brady may have injected a bit of fiction into her autobiographical story about her efforts to ban firearms in America.

While the store owner wishes to remain anonymous, he did tell NRALIVE.com that the claim in Sarah Brady’s book that her purchase was "approved immediately" and "[t]he system was working" is not true. According to the gun dealer, the day Brady came into his shop to purchase a high-powered rifle, the National Instant Check System (NICS) was down, causing a tremendous backlog of customers. Of course, it would not benefit Brady’s anti-gun agenda to report her own experience with problems caused by NICS, as that would simply bolster NRA’s contention that the system is flawed and needs to be overhauled.

This is not the only issue that leads to diverging accounts of Brady’s experience, though. In her book, Brady claims that the dealer tried to draw attention to her presence in the shop, claiming "he spoke unnecessarily loudly, repeating my name over and over on the phone." But the store owner claims that he didn’t do anything to draw attention to the identity of his ironic customer, and because of the problems and delays involving NICS, Brady wasn’t even present when her background check was able to be run.

Of course, the idea that Sarah Brady may not be 100% truthful in her book should come as no real surprise. Both she and her organization are well-known for putting out extremely misleading and grossly inaccurate information in order to further their not-too-well-hidden gun-ban agenda.



Our best opportunity to pass a uniform Right to Carry bill is now at hand. HB 1410, sponsored by Representative Lois Tochtrop (D-34) and Senator Ken Chlouber (R-4), was introduced in the State House on March 26, 2002. This bill will give all law-abiding citizens who pass a criminal background check and complete a firearms safety training course the ability to obtain a permit to carry a handgun concealed to protect themselves and their families outside the home. The bill will very soon be up for a hearing in the State House Civil Justice and Judiciary Committee. With your phone calls, e-mails, and letters, we can ensure that our lawmakers know that House Bill 1410 is good for Colorado. It is vital that you contact your State Representative and urge him to support this important Right to Carry bill. Be sure to thank your lawmaker if they are a co-sponsor of HB 1410. You can use the

"Write Your Reps" tool to e-mail your Representative directly and get their direct phone number.


NRA-ILA is hosting a FREE Grassroots-Election Workshop in Fort Wayne, on Sat., April 20, from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon. At this Workshop you will learn what you can do in your own community to ensure pro-gun candidates are elected to office this election season. NRA members who are interested in attending should contact the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683. NRA members can also register on-line at www.NRAILA.org/workshops.asp?ID=FTWayne.


SB 116, the NRA-supported Reckless Lawsuit Preemption bill will be voted on next week on the House floor. Please call your Representative at (800) 432-3924 and urge him to support SB 116.


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 Gibbons (R-15) bill, which establishes Project Exile—will be debated in the Senate on Tuesday, April 2nd. Call your Senator at (573) 751-3824 and tell him to support these bills on the floor.


We apologize for not notifying you last week of this important Right to Carry Update. HB 274, the Ohio Right to Carry Bill, was passed out of the House of Representatives with a vote of 66-27. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. At this time, no Committee hearing dates have been scheduled. Call your Representative and thank him for supporting this legislation in the House, and please contact your Senator as well and ask for his support when the bill comes before the Senate. You can find your legislators` contact information by using the "Write Your Reps" tool.


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.