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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 9, No. 28 7/12/2002



Virtually every poll on the subject of arming properly trained pilots as a last line of defense against terrorist hijackers has shown overwhelming support for the idea—both from the general public and commercial airline pilots—and now the overwhelming majority of U.S. Representatives are officially on record as supporting this idea, as well. On Wednesday, the U.S. House passed H.R. 4635 on an exceptionally strong bi-partisan vote of 310 - 113. NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox, responding to Wednesday’s action, stated, "Passage of H.R. 4635 is meaningful progress in efforts to prevent the prospect of another terrorist takeover of a commercial passenger airplane."

When H.R. 4635 was originally introduced by U.S. Representatives John Mica (R-Fla.) and Don Young (R-Alas.), it sought to establish a program to train and equip all commercial airline pilots who wished to be prepared to use firearms as a last resort to defend the cabins of commercial aircraft from hijackers. During committee debate, however, the bill was amended, and when it was brought to the House floor this week, the legislation had changed to a two-year test program that would have allowed for up to 1,400 pilots to take part. Wednesday saw a great deal of debate on the House floor, as several amendments were discussed.

Of paramount concern was an amendment offered by U.S. Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-Or.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) that returned the scope of the legislation to include any properly trained pilots, and made the program permanent. The DeFazio-Thune Amendment was agreed to on another strong, bipartisan vote of 251 - 172. Passage of this amendment was possible thanks to the strong floor leadership of its authors, as well as Representatives Joe Barton (R-Tex.), Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.), John Mica, George Nethercutt (R-Wash.), and Don Young.

Of course, most of the more strident opponents of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms continued to put their anti-gun extremist agenda above the interests of airline security, and those voting against H.R. 4635 included many familiar names, including the House Minority Leader, Representative Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), and Representatives Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), and Lynn Rivers (D-Mich.). But there were some surprise supporters of the bill who can normally be counted on as automatic anti-gun votes, including Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.).

With the House passage of H.R. 4635, the focus on arming pilots now moves to the U.S. Senate, where that chamber’s version of the bill, S. 2554, faces a more difficult journey. That bill is currently languishing in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, where the Committee Chair, Senator Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.), opposes the legislation and has refused to even allow it to be scheduled for a hearing. But even the Senate has seen one of its most anti-gun members come out in support of arming pilots. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who has written, promoted, and voted for many anti-gun bills during her tenure in the Senate, has signed on to S. 2554 as one of 14 co-sponsors.

Even though Senator Hollings appears poised to do everything in his power to derail the bill, NRA remains committed to working with supporters of H.R. 4635 and S. 2554 to ensure the armed pilots program becomes reality. NRA-ILA’s Cox commented, "Soon after September 11, many pilots and their unions contacted the NRA appealing for our help in their effort to protect their cockpit from future terrorist attacks. We were happy to assist them in the passage of H.R. 4635. We will continue our efforts to ensure Senate passage of this measure." And with the inclusion of language that provides for self-defense training for flight attendants, the Association of Flight Attendants has also thrown its support behind the House and Senate bills. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told the Associated Press, "There’s going to be overwhelming pressure on the Senate to pass this [legislation]."

One of the few voices opposed to arming pilots is the radical gun-ban organization the Violence Policy Center (VPC), which has denounced the actions of the House of Representatives, and is calling on the Senate to reject allowing pilots the option of being equipped to defend against a repeat of the attacks of September 11. VPC legislative director Kristen Rand stated, "If firearms are absolutely necessary, they should [only] be carried by trained air marshals," thus rejecting the idea that pilots, who are trusted to fly complicated aircraft, can also be trusted with firearms as a last line of defense against terrorist hijackers. Rand must be aware of the widely known fact that there are not enough air marshals to protect every flight. And if she actually understands the legislation, she’d know the training armed pilots would go through would be similar to the training air marshals receive. Yet her organization is blinded by its hatred of firearms: Would VPC actually prefer the horrific scenario of hijacked airplanes being shot down by our own military rather than give pilots a fighting chance against terrorists?

Quick action in the Senate on S. 2554 is critical, so now is the time to contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to support this legislation. Please contact your U.S. Senators at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to cosponsor S. 2554, work to ensure the bill is brought up for consideration, or support it being offered as an amendment to legislation being considered on the Senate floor. Those on the Internet can find additional contact information by using our "Write Your Representatives" tool.



The National Education Association (NEA) is no stranger to getting involved in promoting anti-gun positions. In 2000, this teachers’ union promoted a petition drive that called on Congress to enact numerous laws restricting our Right to Keep and Bear Arms. This year, the NEA outlines its support of gun control in the questionnaire it sends to candidates seeking office at the federal level. The group asks candidates if they agree with NEA’s support of attacks on gun shows, gun lock mandates, mandatory storage laws that would hold law-abiding gun owners criminally responsible if their firearms are stolen and used in crimes, and added restrictions on certain semi-automatic firearms.

If you are interested in contacting NEA to encourage it to remain focused on labor issues, rather than get involved with promoting attacks on the Second Amendment, you can reach the union at:

1201 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036-3290
Phone: (202) 833-4000
Fax: (202) 822-7974
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: http://www.nea.org/feedback/



Last Saturday, July 6, the firearms community lost one of the biggest legends of the field when Bill Ruger died peacefully in his home. Ruger, founder and Chairman Emeritus of Sturm, Ruger & Company, the largest firearms manufacturer in the United States, was widely recognized as one of "America’s greatest gun designers." He was 86 at the time of his death.



In preparation for the upcoming campaign season, NRA-ILA is hosting FREE Grassroots-Election Workshops in several areas across the country. The last of three Workshops in California will take place tomorrow, July 13, in San Diego, while the last of two Workshops in Kansas will also be held tomorrow, July 13, in Overland Park. South Dakota has Workshops scheduled for Rapid City on July 15 and Pierre on July 17, and there are three Workshops slated for Arizona—in Flagstaff on July 20, Scottsdale on July 22, and Tucson on July 23. And Albuquerque, N.M., is set for an August 17 Workshop. At these Workshops, 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.




Great news for Massachusetts citizens!

This week, the Massachusetts House of Representatives voted 114-32 to send reform bill H.B. 5102 to the Senate. There were attempts to gut the bill by anti-gun legislators, but their attempts were soundly defeated. While the bill fails to make all of the changes needed to roll back oppressive anti-gun legislation imposed by the legislature in 1998, it is an important first step. Since time is running out for this bill to clear the Senate, Massachusetts NRA members must continue to call their State Senators and urge them to support H.B. 5102. If you are unsure of how to reach your Senator, please call the Massachusetts Senate information office at (617) 722-1455 and ask for assistance. Those on the Internet can also use our "Write Your Representatives" tool.


Attention Bergen County gun owners and Second Amendment supporters!

On Monday, July 15, at 7:00 p.m., the Ridgefield Board of Adjustment will meet to vote on whether or not to shut down a state and federally licensed gun shop (Bergen Sporting Goods) that had been approved by the town’s zoning officer and issued a Certificate of Occupancy. The shop is located near a school, and anti-gun forces are whipping up hysteria to try to put an honest, law-abiding shop owner out of business. At the last Board meeting, anti-gunners called in the organization that calls itself the "Million Mom March" (which is now officially a part of the gun-ban lobby formerly known as HCI) to pressure the town. Now, we need to make a showing of our own in opposition to this attack on all gun owners. Your support is needed! Even if you’re not a resident of Ridgefield, but live within Bergen County, please come to the hearing at 604 Broad Street, Ridgefield, and show your support for this lawful business!


Last month, the NRA-backed lawsuit preemption measure, H.B. 622—sponsored by Representative P. Wayne Sexton (R-73)—successfully passed out of Senate Judiciary II Committee. This critical legislation will prevent municipalities from filing politically-motivated lawsuits that attempt to hold gun makers liable for the criminal misuse of their products. Although this move represents a positive step in the effort to establish a lawsuit preemption statute in North Carolina, there is still work to be done. This bill is now on the Senate calendar, and could face a vote as soon as Tuesday, July 16, so supporters of the Second Amendment must act quickly. Please call your Senator immediately and urge him to support H.B. 622. If you are unsure of how to reach your Senator, please call the main General Assembly number at (919) 733-7928 and ask for assistance. Those on the Internet can also use our "Write Your Representatives" 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.