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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 9, No. 18 5/3/2002


NRA Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre

named Chris Cox as the new Executive Director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA). The appointment was announced this past Monday in Reno, Nev., at the meeting of the NRA’s Board of Directors, and took effect immediately. Cox replaces James Jay Baker, who tendered his resignation at the Board Meeting.

Mr. LaPierre stated, "Jim will be changing his relationship with the NRA and returning to private practice. I will miss Jim’s leadership, tough legislative skills, and, most of all, the partnership we have enjoyed for these many years working together." Baker will continue to work with the NRA as a consultant, and will also help coordinate a transition period.

Chris Cox is a decade-long veteran of Capitol Hill, is well regarded by Republicans and Democrats, and is an avid hunter and shooting sports enthusiast. Prior to joining the NRA as an employee, Chris worked as a legislative aide to pro-gun U.S. Representative John Tanner (D-Tenn.).

"I am happy to hand the reins of the NRA’s political arm over to Chris. He is an intelligent and talented political operative. I am confident that he will lead NRA-ILA to new heights," Jim Baker said of his successor.

"This is an awesome responsibility. I truly appreciate the support of Wayne, Jim, and the Board of Directors. I will work tirelessly to advance the state and federal legislative and political strategies of this 131 year-old Association," Cox said.



Last week, U.S. Senators Zell Miller (D-Ga.) and Larry Craig (R-Id.) introduced S. 2268, the Senate’s version of reckless lawsuit preemption legislation. This bill seeks to block politically-motivated lawsuits that attempt to hold gun makers liable for the criminal misuse of their products. These frivolous suits—a shameless abuse of the courts devised by several anti-gun big city mayors and their cohorts in the gun-ban lobby—are nothing more than an attempt to drive the law-abiding firearms industry into bankruptcy by burdening them with the crushing cost of defending their safe, lawful products against an onslaught of baseless litigation. Court after court continues to reject the absurd notion that gun makers should be held responsible when criminals use firearms to commit criminal acts. But, nonetheless, the gun-ban movement continues with its baseless suits.

The U.S. House’s version of this legislation, H.R. 2037, has already attained 222 co-sponsors—more than half of that chamber’s members—and has had an extremely favorable hearing in subcommittee. Our focus for this critical legislative reform now has a parallel track, as we work to build co-sponsors for the bill in the Senate. Call both your U.S. Senators and urge them to co-sponsor S. 2268. You can reach your Senators by calling (202) 224-3121. For those on the Internet, you can find additional contact information by using our "Write Your Reps" tool.




Congress, this week, revisited one of the recurring topics raised during last week’s Annual Meetings—the idea of allowing properly trained flight crew on commercial aircraft to be permitted to carry firearms to defend their aircraft. U.S. Representatives John Mica (R-Fla.) and Don Young (R-Alas.) recently introduced H.R. 4635, which seeks to establish a training program for arming flight crew, and on Thursday, the House Subcommittee on Aviation held hearings to discuss the subject.

In addition, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators held a press conference to announce the introduction of a companion bill to H.R. 4635 in the Senate. The group of Senators included Conrad Burns (R-Mt.), Zell Miller, Frank Murkowski (R-Alas.), and Bob Smith (R-N.H.).

Although President Bush signed into law the "Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001" last November, which includes language that allows properly trained commercial pilots, co-pilots, and flight engineers to carry firearms aboard commercial airplanes, there has been no implementation of a program to train and equip flight deck crew members who wish to be prepared to use firearms as a last resort to defend commercial aircraft from hijackers.

Two weeks ago, we told you about an online petition spearheaded by several airline pilot organizations. The petition is being promoted to urge Congress and President Bush to move ahead to ensure the establishment of a program that will properly train and equip flight crew to act as an effective last line of defense against terrorists or other hijackers. If you have not yet signed the online petition urging President Bush to support arming airline flight crew, the deadline to sign has been extended. Please be sure to add your support. The petition can be found at http://secure-skies.org/. Also be sure to urge your U.S. Representative to support H.R. 4635, which seeks to implement the training program through legislation, rather than administratively. You can reach your U.S. Representative by calling (202) 225-3121. For those on the Internet, you can find additional contact information by using our "Write Your Reps" tool.


AB 2222

, a measure that would have mandated new restrictions on target rifles chambered for .50 BMG cartridges, was defeated by a vote by the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, April 23. This bill sought to register .50 caliber BMG rifles and place them under an arbitrary permit system. A special thanks goes to all California NRA members who worked tirelessly to defeat this measure!



Last week, 42,000 NRA members gathered in Reno, Nev., to attend the Association’s 131st Annual Meetings & Exhibits—a celebration of fraternity, unity, and support for the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. The three-day event kicked off on Friday, April 26, with a moving opening ceremony—"A Day For Heroes"—that honored several individuals, some posthumously, whose courageous actions in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11 elevated them to hero status. The opening ceremony also included stirring performances from the Oak Ridge Boys and Lee Greenwood, as well as an appearance by World War II ace, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, former South Dakota Governor, and Past President of NRA General Joe Foss. And, of course, NRA President Charlton Heston also addressed the crowd.

Friday began with the NRA-ILA Grassroots Workshop. Hosted by your NRA-ILA Grassroots Division, 350 NRA members heard from Grassroots’ staff about what they can do in their community to ensure that Election Day 2002 is a resounding success for the Second Amendment and gun owners across our great nation. Also discussed was how members can work with their local Election Volunteer Coordinator (EVC)—about 25 of whom attended the Workshop and Annual Meetings—to ensure pro-gun campaigns have a steady stream of committed, pro-freedom volunteers to help with their activities leading up to Election Day. In addition to hearing from Grassroots Staff, attendees were treated to appearances by NRA EVP Wayne LaPierre, NRA First Vice President Kayne Robinson, NRA Second Vice President Sandy Froman, and NRA-ILA Executive Director James Jay Baker.

On Saturday, during the Meeting of Members, attendees heard from their NRA Officers about the state of the Association, past successes, and coming challenges. James Baker reminded NRA members that, although our successes in the 2000 elections have led to a distinct change in the political climate in Washington, D.C., the pro-gun community still has many battles ahead. Baker cautioned that we must work to "recapture a pro-gun majority in ... Congress," and he urged NRA members to "extend our reach" by recruiting new NRA members, and taking as active a role in defending our freedom as possible. "There are two kinds of people in politics," Baker said, "participants and victims."

Wayne LaPierre followed Baker, and NRA’s EVP spoke of protecting all our freedoms, especially as some seem so willing to sacrifice the liberties secured by our Founding Fathers under the guise of combating terrorism in the wake of 9/11. LaPierre said, "Within weeks [of 9/11], the ailing gun-ban lobby was back, marketing terrorism as the new reason to ban your guns. Led by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), even John McCain (R-Ariz.)...these groups began painting a fictional picture of wild-eyed terrorists equipping rogue armies through small town gun shows in the heartland of America." He went on to say, "Leading the pack is a new gun-ban group created by a former Handgun Control board member, dot-com billionaire Andrew McKelvey, called ‘Americans for Gun Safety.’" LaPierre closed by urging, "So when they ask you to sign over some rights, you say this: The quality of freedom my ancestors bought with their blood is not mine to squander. It’s mine to preserve. You just watch me. You tell them: I’m the NRA, and I’ll fight for freedom."

During the Members Banquet on Saturday evening, U.S. Senator Zell Miller (D-Ga.) was the keynote speaker, and he brought the crowd to its feet with his speech. Sen. Miller spoke of being a gun owner since he was 12, an NRA Life Member, and a staunch supporter of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms. He also rebuffed the gun-ban lobby formerly known as HCI, which had put out a press release criticizing Sen. Miller for "courting the NRA," and also claimed "NRA leadership does not represent the views of mainstream Americans." Miller responded, saying, "Well, I haven’t courted anybody since my wife, Shirley, said, ‘Yes’ ... 48 years ago. But I look around this room, and all I see is mainstream America!" Please be sure to contact Sen. Miller and thank him for his support of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Sen. Miller can be reached by calling (202) 224-3643.


(You can also find complete transcripts of several of the speeches made during the 2002 Annual Meetings online. You may also be able to see these speeches replayed on C-Span—check your local listings, or try http://inside.c-spanarchives.org:8080/cspan/cspan.csp?command=dschedule.)

Our thanks go out to everyone who helped to make this year’s Annual Meetings such a tremendous success. And we look forward to making next year’s event in Orlando, Fla., even more successful!



SB 1008

, Arizona’s Range Protection bill, has been passed out of the House of Representatives and awaits Senate concurrence. Please contact your Senator and urge him to support SB 1008. You can call your Senator at (800) 352-8404, and you can also find contact information by using our "Write Your Reps" tool. HB 2329, the "Crime Gun Interdiction" bill, is awaiting consideration in the Senate. This legislation is aimed at law-abiding gun owners, while doing nothing to target violent criminals. Continue to call your State Senator and your two Representatives at (800) 352-8404, and tell them to vote "NO" on the gun control amendment to HB 2329. For additional contact information, use our "Write Your Reps" tool.



This week, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed HB 1410, sponsored by Rep. Tochtrop (D-34) and Sen. Chlouber (R-4). The bill, which would establish a "Shall-Issue" Right to Carry permit system, will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee today, where the bill’s future may come down to one vote. As the end of the session is drawing near, it is vital that HB 1410 be heard quickly. If HB 1410 comes out of committee, it is up to Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebault (D-3) to schedule a hearing in the Senate. You can help by contacting Majority Leader Thiebault at (303) 866-3341 and asking him put HB 1410 on the calendar. Also, contact your Senator and urge him to support the House version of HB 1410 when it reaches the floor. You can call your Senator at (303) 866-2316, or use our "Write Your Reps" tool. The session ends next Wednesday at midnight, so it is vital that you act now!


On Tuesday, May 14, the Delaware Senate will consider SB 190. This legislation would mandate that all handguns sold or transferred by a licensed gun dealer be accompanied by a trigger-locking device. It would also ban the sale or transfer of all handguns that are not equipped with a so-called "integrated mechanical safety device" after January 1, 2003. This bill would outlaw the sale of virtually ALL existing models of handguns on the market today. Call your Senator at (302) 744-4286 and urge him to oppose SB 190.



NRA-ILA is hosting a FREE Grassroots-Election Workshop in Mahwah on May 22. 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 for details and to reserve their spots. NRA members can also reserve their spots on-line.



Senator Jim Seward

(R-50) has introduced S 2458, which would protect firearm manufacturers from reckless lawsuits seeking to hold the industry responsible for the criminal misuse of firearms, as well as S 7088, which would prohibit counties and other municipalities from regulating hunting, trapping, or fishing. Both measures have been referred to, and await action in, the Senate Judiciary Committee. Contact members of the committeeTODAY to voice your strong support for S 2458 and S 7088! For a list of committee members’ names and phone numbers, please contact NRA Grassroots at(800) 392-8683.



HB 493,

a measure to allow Sunday hunting, has been approved by both the Senate and the House and awaits Governor Bob Taft’s (R) signature. Contact Governor Taft (R) at (614) 466-3555 and encourage him to sign this bill enabling hunters to participate in the hunting tradition on Sundays.



NRA-ILA is hosting a FREE Grassroots-Election Workshop in Charleston on June 1. 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 for details and to reserve their spots. NRA members can also reserve their spots on-line.


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.