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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 9, No. 38 9/20/2002

NRA FILES CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT

On Tuesday, the National Rifle Association filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of 12-year-old Virginia NRA member Alan Newsom. The lawsuit charges the principal and vice-principal of the Jack Jouett Middle School and the Albemarle County (Va.) School Board Superintendent and Board members with violating Newsom’s First Amendment rights when they banned him from wearing an NRA Youth Sports Shooting Camp shirt, bearing NRA’s logo, to school last year.

Newsom was forced to remove his T-shirt by the vice-principal and told to turn it inside out. She considered the shirt’s illustrations of individuals involved in shooting sports to violate school policy, even though at the time there was no rule that prohibited such clothing.

When NRA notified school authorities that their action violated the student’s civil rights, the school subsequently added a provision for the 2002-2003 school year barring any clothing associated with "weapons" and "violence."

"The facts are clear. Alan Newsom was singled-out by the vice-principal because he was wearing an NRA T-shirt," said NRA’s Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre. "The T-shirt clearly depicts individuals involved in shooting sports. The images are in no way inappropriate or violent. This is a blatant infringement of young Alan’s constitutional rights. I was dumbfounded when I learned of the facts of this case after Alan’s parents contacted us, and didn’t hesitate to take up this challenge. I am proud to say that NRA stands proudly with this brave young man," LaPierre said.

The lawsuit, which seeks $100,000 in damages and $50,000 in punitive damages plus legal costs, was filed in the U.S. Federal District Court for Western District of Virginia, Charlottesville Division. Among the 12 counts included in the federal suit are free speech and due process violations under federal and state constitutions.

"NRA wholeheartedly supports the reasonable prohibition of images on clothing depicting violence in a school setting. However, to preclude a student from wearing an article of clothing because it may run counter to the viewpoints or political beliefs of some school officials is deplorable," LaPierre added.

In Tinker v. Des Moines School District, the U.S. Supreme Court held "[i]n order for the State in

the person of the school officials to justify prohibition of a particular expressed opinion, it must be able to show that its actions were caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint."

NRA’s lawsuit also challenges the ambiguity of the new school rule which will not only affect all NRA logos, but also the Great Seal of the United States, the United States Army logo, and the seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia—all with images of "weapons" that would fall within the prohibitions of the school’s new policy.

"This is clearly a case of political-correctness running unchecked," LaPierre added. "Alan is a good student who has no disciplinary problems in school. He developed an affinity for shooting sports and his father enrolled him in a NRA Youth Safety Camp to learn basic firearm safety. Alan aspires to represent his country in the Olympics someday. The school authorities harassed and breached Alan’s First Amendment rights merely for his interest in the NRA and shooting sports."

The lawsuit noted that, ironically, Jack Jouett Middle School is named for an American Revolutionary War hero who is known for his famous ride on June 3, 1781, in which despite the potential for personal peril, he rode through the night to warn Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and others that British troops were on their way to arrest patriots for signing the Declaration of Independence. In appreciation for this act of bravery, the Virginia Legislature awarded Captain Jack Jouett a sword and a pair of pistols.

For more information on this case, and other cases that NRA-ILA is pursuing, please call (800) 392-8683.

 

ARMED PILOTS & RECKLESS LAWSUIT PREEMPTION REMAIN TOP PRIORITIES

Congress may operate beyond its targeted adjournment date of October 4, but there remains little time for action on two of NRA’s key legislative goals—the establishment of an effective armed pilots program and a prohibition on reckless lawsuits designed to bankrupt law-abiding gun manufacturers.

The U.S. Senate has already passed U.S. Senator Bob Smith’s (R-N.H.) armed pilots amendment to H.R. 5005—the legislation that would create a Homeland Security Department—by an overwhelming margin. H.R. 5005 still has yet to come up for a final vote in the Senate.Please continue to contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to keep the Smith amendment intact, and to do everything possible to ensure any armed pilots program passed includes every pilot interested in participating in the program.

 

Reckless lawsuit preemption legislation, which would block politically-motivated lawsuits that attempt to hold lawful gun makers liable for the criminal misuse of their products, still needs to move through both chambers of Congress. The House version,H.R. 2037, has 230 co-sponsors, but full committee markup that was tentatively slated in theHouse Energy and Commerce Committee has yet to take place. The Senate version,S. 2268, now has 41 co-sponsors. The number of co-sponsors for each bill shows solid support, but time is rapidly running out for lawmakers to pass these critical reforms.Please call both your U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative and urge them to promote the passage of reckless lawsuit preemption legislation.

 

To contact your U.S. Representative, call (202) 225-3121, and to reach your U.S. Senators, call (202) 224-3121. Just ask to speak with your particular lawmaker. Or you can also use our "Write Your Representatives" tool.

MORE ELECTIONS AROUND THE CORNER

Hawaii

will hold its primary elections this Saturday, September 21. NRA members should have already received information on candidates endorsed by the NRA-Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) for the primaries, so please be sure to go to the polls and support pro-gun candidates for office, and encourage your family, friends, and fellow firearm owners to do the same.

REGISTER TO VOTE!

Perhaps the simplest, yet most important action gun owners can take to ensure they will be able to help in the defense of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms is to make sure they are registered to vote. Only currently registered voters are eligible to cast their vote in an election. Are you willing to let someone else decide who will speak for you in Congress or your state capital? Simply put, your vote is your voice, so USE IT OR LOSE IT! For voter registration information and applications for yourself or to share with your fellow Second Amendment supporters, contact the ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683 or visit the "Voter Information" section of NRAILA.org (where you can complete an on-line voter registration form). Gun shows, ranges, gun club meetings, and gun shops are great places to register pro-freedom voters. Remember, don’t stop once you are registered to vote yourself. Work within the pro-Second Amendment community in your area and help us register additional voters. Voter registration deadlines vary from state to state, butgenerally one must be registered to vote 30 days prior to Election Day, so act now!

 

NRA-ILA GRASSROOTS ELECTION WORKSHOPS

In preparation for the November 5 elections, NRA-ILA has scheduled FREE Grassroots-Election Workshops across the country. 41 Workshops in 23 states have been conducted to date. These Workshops provide NRA members with training on what they can do in their local areas to ensure pro-gun candidates win their elections this year. The meetings also provide a venue for lawmakers, candidates seeking office, and their staffs to reach out to NRA members and explain their positions on our Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Upcoming Workshops are slated for:

Colorado Springs, Colo.,
Charlotte, N.C., & Manchester, N.H. — 9/21
Nashville, Tenn. — 9/23
St. Louis, Mo. — 9/24
Jackson, Tenn., & Columbia, Mo. — 9/25
Kansas City, Mo. — 9/26
Bristol, Va. — 9/28
Plymouth, Mass. — 10/1
Bellevue, Wash., & Modesto, Calif. — 10/2
Marlborough, Mass. — 10/3
Las Vegas, Nev., Norwich, Conn., &
Eau Claire, Wis. — 10/5
Kohler, Wis. — 10/7
Racine, Wis. — 10/9
Mankato, Minn. — 10/17
Monticello, Minn. — 10/19
Duluth, Minn. — 10/21

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 or go to www.NRAILA.org/WorkShops.asp to reserve their spots on-line. Any NRA member who is unable to contact NRA-ILA, but still wishes to attend a Workshop that is drawing near, should please feel free to attend. We can register you on the spot.

 

Even if you cannot attend a Workshop, or none is scheduled near you, there is still plenty you can do to help ensure victory for the pro-gun community during this election cycle. To assist you with this, NRA-ILA has designated an individual in almost every congressional district (known as an NRA-ILA Election Volunteer Coordinator [EVC]) who stands ready to plug you into ongoing campaign activities. The EVC in your district is a fellow NRA member who is working to provide pro-gun campaigns in your state and area with volunteers to help with phone banks, literature drops, voter registration drives, precinct walks, get out the vote and Election Day activities, and other campaign activities. To locate your EVC so you can start working on pro-freedom campaigns TODAY, please call ILA Grassroots at (800) 392-VOTE (8683), or click here.If your district currently has a vacancy for an EVC, and you would like to serve in this capacity, please call the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division and ask to speak with the Grassroots Coordinator for your state.

Finally, keep an eye out for your October NRA magazine (which, if it hasn’t done so already, should arrive shortly), as your district’s EVC’s contact information will appear on the front cover.But please don’t wait until then: Contact your EVC and begin your work TODAY!

 

2002 GUN RIGHTS POLICY CONFERENCE

This year’s Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC), sponsored by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the Second Amendment Foundation, will be held Sept. 27-29, at the Sheraton-Crescent Hotel, in Phoenix, Ariz. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre will be among the attendees. Registration, conference materials, and luncheon are free. Participants are required to pay for their own lodging, travel, and other meals. For more information, or to register for this year’s GRPC, call (425) 454-4911 or e-mail your registration to GRPC2002@saf.org.

 

A LOOK AT THE STATES

NEW JERSEY

On Monday, September 30 your State Senator will vote on an alarming "Gun Ban" bill. This bill, sponsored by Senator Dick Codey (D-27), is being masqueraded as a "childproof" handgun bill. As currently written, S. 890 would set in motion an ultimate ban of all new models of handguns in New Jersey, if even one manufacturer delivers any "personalized" handgun to any dealer anywhere in the USA. And, if one of these guns were pulled off the market for any reason, the ban would still remain. Simply put, S.890 would be a ban on ALL current models of handguns in New Jersey. As you may recall, the Senate has debated this issue before and is aware that so-called "smart" gun or "personalized" handgun technology does not exist. Amazingly, police have been exempt from these mandates. If "smart" gun technology is so smart, why would the one occupation -- law enforcement -- who carry guns regularly be exempt from using it? Please contact your State Senator (you may use the "Write Your Reps" feature) and urge him to oppose S. 890.

NEW YORK

Make plans to attend the Sportsmen’s Association for Firearms Education’s (S.A.F.E.) 2002 Right To Carry Conference—a free event that will be held onSunday, September 29, inMelville, N.Y. At the event, you can expect to hear the latest information on the Right to Carry movement on Long Island; network with fellow Second Amendment activists; and hear from several guest speakers of national prominence. Scheduled to speak are:NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre,NRA First Vice President Kayne Robinson, NRA Second Vice President Sandra Froman,LEAA Executive Director James Fotis,SAFE President & NRA Director John Cushman, and nationally-syndicated columnist and radio talk-show hostArmstrong Williams. Please make plans to attend. Again, the event isfree, and will be held Sunday, September 29, at theMelville Long Island Marriott, located at1350 Old Walt Whitman Rd.,Melville,N.Y. Doors open at Noon, and the event is scheduled to run from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.For directions or additional information, please call (631) 423-1600.

 

NORTH CAROLINA

Come join fellow NRA members and pro-gun candidates at a Second Amendment Rally TOMORROW, Saturday, September 21, in Burlington. The event it is not a fundraiser, it is a free opportunity to enjoy barbeque, win door prizes, and listen to a live bluegrass band while learning about the pro-Second Amendment movement in North Carolina. All candidates for public office have been invited to this non-partisan rally. The event will take place tomorrow,Saturday, September 21, from5:00 to 7:00 p.m., atHandgunners,Inc., 4325 South NC Hwy. 49 (three miles south of I-85 off exit 145), in theBurlington area.Call Darrell Malcolm at (919) 733-5745 for more information. Don’t miss this exciting rally!

 

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.