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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 9, No. 40 10/4/2002

MORE PROGRESS FOR RECKLESS LAWSUIT PREEMPTION

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 2037, the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act," by an 18 - 7 vote. This legislation seeks to block politically-motivated lawsuits that attempt to hold law-abiding gun makers liable for the criminal misuse of their lawful products. Committee Chair F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wisc.), and U.S. Representative (and NRA Director) Bob Barr (R-Ga.) deserve a great deal of thanks for helping move this legislation through committee. "Firearms manufacturers and lawful gun retailers have been facing the threat of extinction at the hands of overzealous trial lawyers, mayors, and gun control groups capitalizing on the anti-gun lobby’s well-funded public relations campaign," Barr said today. "To hold an industry responsible for the actions of an individual who criminally misuses a legal product has no place in American legal jurisprudence, and I will continue to stand on the side of lawful gun owners, manufacturers, and retailers."

Opposition to H.R. 2037 came solely from Democrats, although U.S. Representative Rick Boucher (D-Va.) did support the measure. Oddly, Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Cali.), who has a considerable anti-gun record, used part of her time speaking out against the bill to voice her general opposition to trigger locks. Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.), on the other hand, voted against the legislation, but stated he felt these predatory lawsuits had no merit.

Anti-gun extremists outside Congress have launched an all-out assault on reckless lawsuit preemption. The gun-ban lobby formerly known as HCI, along with the Alliance for Justice, have sent e-mail alerts urging opposition to H.R. 2037. California’s anti-gun Governor, Gray Davis (D), proved he’s not satisfied with imposing his extremist agenda on Californians by sending a letter to key Congressmen urging them to oppose reckless lawsuit preemption. This comes one week after Davis signed legislation repealing California’s own reckless lawsuit preemption law. And the American Bar Association (ABA) also sent a letter opposing H.R. 2037. The ABA letter came as no surprise, as the organization has long supported attacks on our Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Furthermore, the ABA passed a resolution last year opposing laws that prohibit frivolous lawsuits against law-abiding gun makers. Clearly, the financial incentive to allow such predatory suits to continue could not be ignored by the ABA. While the courts continue to reject these reckless lawsuits, certain greedy trial lawyers who wish to line their pockets with proceeds from promoting the suits continue to get paid for their services. If you wish to contact the ABA to object to its position, especially if you are one of the countless principled trial attorneys who does not share the ABA’s anti-gun agenda, you can find contact information on the Internet at www.abanet.org/email.html. For those not on the Internet, you can reach the ABA at:

ABA
Service Center
541 N. Fairbanks Ct
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 988-5522

ABA
740 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005-1019

The progress of H.R. 2037 continues to be promising. The House bill’s co-sponsor list remains at 231, and the Senate’s version—S. 2268—still stands at 42. Time, however, continues to be a factor for the passage of 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.

ARMING PILOTS REMAINS HIGH PRIORITY

Establishing an effective armed pilots program remains a top priority for NRA during this Congress. The U.S. Senate has already passed U.S. Senator Bob Smith’s (R-N.H.) armed pilots amendment to H.R. 5005—legislation to 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, or support similar language that will ensure passage of an armed pilots program that includes every pilot interested in participating in the program.

 

"TORCH" GOES OUT

U.S. Senator Bob Torricelli

(D-N.J.), whose nickname "the Torch" signified his often inflammatory rhetoric, dropped his bid for reelection this week after it became clear he might not win. Torricelli, whose anti-gun record is rivaled by few, was plagued by his relationship with a 1996 campaign supporter who is now serving 18 months in jail for making illegal campaign contributions. Torricelli was investigated by federal prosecutors because of the relationship, and, while no charges were filed, the Senator was "severely admonished" by the Senate Ethics Committee for behavior that "evidenced poor judgment, displayed a lack of due regard for Senate rules and resulted in a violation" of chamber rules.

On Wednesday, the New Jersey state Supreme Court ruled that state election laws could be ignored in order to accommodate the Democratic Party adding a new name to the ballot. That name, former U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, is one of the few that could be considered more threatening to law-abiding gun owners than Torricelli’s. However, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee and Republican U.S. Senate nominee Douglas Forrester—who had been leading Torricelli in virtually every opinion poll by a comfortable and growing margin—have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the New Jersey election law that states replacement candidates cannot be placed on the ballot less than 51 days before an election. Torricelli’s decision to withdraw came 36 days before the November 5 election date.

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 votes in the November 5 elections. 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!

 

SPORTSMEN CONTRIBUTE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO ECONOMY

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) released a study on Tuesday showing America’s hunters and anglers pump more than $70 billion into the economy in pursuit of their outdoor activities. If they formed a corporation, the release said, it would rank #11 on the Fortune 500. "Because sportsmen enjoy hunting and fishing alone or in small groups, they are often overlooked as a constituency and as a substantial economic force," noted Melinda Gable, Executive Director for the CSF. "These impressive statistics actually underestimate the impact of sportsmen since they do not take into account the millions of hunters and anglers under 16 years of age, and people who were not able to get out and hunt or fish in 2001."

The release stated that, while the combined national economic impact of sportsmen is remarkable, it is even more important to recognize the impact at the state and local level. In Florida, recreational anglers spend three times more each year than the cash receipts for the state’s orange crop. In Minnesota, sportsmen pay $175 million in state sales, fuel, and income taxes equivalent to the salaries for 8% of the state’s teachers. In Oregon, sportsmen support more jobs than are provided by Intel™, Nike™, Oregon State University and the University of Oregon combined. And in Montana, annual spending by sportsmen is nearly 3% of the entire Gross State Product.

You can find more information on this release on the Internet at www.nssf.org.

NRA-ILA GRASSROOTS ELECTION WORKSHOPS

In preparation for the November 5 elections, NRA-ILA has scheduled FREE Grassroots-Election Workshops across the country. Forty-eight Workshops in 25 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:

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. NRA members who have access to the Internet can also 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, you may also refer to your October NRA magazine (which you should have received), 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!

 

A LOOK AT THE STATES

CALIFORNIA

Last week, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to ban the sale of .50 cal. rifles within the city limits. In a surprise move, Council member Dennis Zine, an NRA-PVF endorsed candidate in 2001, voted with his fellow council members in support of the ban. Please contact Mr. Zine at (213) 485-3486 to voice your concern and ask that he stand with us and vote NO on the upcoming hunting ammunition ban ordinance slated for a vote in the upcoming weeks. You can locate information on how to contact other L.A. City Council Members here.

MISSOURI

There will be a trap shoot fund-raiser for Jason Brown (R), who is seeking election in Missouri’s 30th State House District. The event is scheduled for Oct. 12, from 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., at the Kansas City Trap Association Facility at Smithville Lake. For more information, or to reserve your spot, please call (816) 564-4678, or you can send e-mail to jr418brown@hotmail.com.

 

NEW JERSEY

On Monday, October 7, the New Jersey Senate will likely vote on S 573 (formerly S 890). This bill, sponsored by Senator Dick Codey (D-27), is a COMPLETE HANDGUN BAN masquerading as a "childproof" handgun bill. As currently written, S 573 would set in motion an ultimate ban of all new models of handguns in New Jersey if so-called "smart guns" are introduced to the market. And even if there was just one model of these "smart guns" and it was pulled off the market for any reason, the ban would still remain. Simply put, S 573 seeks to ban ALL models of handguns currently available in New Jersey. As you may recall, the Senate has debated this issue before and is aware that so-called "smart" or "personalized" handgun technology does not exist. Amazingly, police are exempted from this mandate. If "smart gun" technology is so "smart," why would the leading occupation in which employees carry hand guns regularly-law enforcement-be exempt from using it?

And if that were not bad enough, this past Monday, Senate proponents worked to amend this legislation to give the government complete immunity should there be a technological failure of any "smart gun." This came after another round of testimony from firearm experts and members of the pro-gun community that exposed the potential unreliability of "smart gun" technology. In other words, proponents of this bill want to mandate handgun designs that are currently unavailable and unproven for all law-abiding gun owners, but fearing that one of these government-mandated "smart guns" is actually produced, and there is a catastrophic technological failure that causes injury or loss of life, the government wants to ensure that it cannot be held accountable for mandating and approving the firearm.

It should be noted that the companion bill in the Assembly, A 700, by Loretta Weinberg, is now pending before the Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee. This bill is nearly identical to the Senate version and it must be defeated.

It is imperative that you contact your State Senator as well as your State Assemblyman immediately and ask him to vote NO on S 573 and A 700! Also be sure to express your indignation that the government wishes to mandate unavailable, unproven, and potentially unreliable handgun designs, but remove itself from any possibility of being held accountable should such designs lead to tragic injuries or loss of life. If you are unsure of how to reach your Senator or Assemblyman, please call the main State Legislature information line, (609) 292-4840, and ask for assistance. Those with access to the Internet can also use our "Write Your Representatives" tool.

 

In addition, NRA members in New Jersey’s 3rd legislative district should make plans to attend a town hall meeting scheduled in Mantua at the Mantua Municipal Building on Thursday, October 10, from 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Your elected officials in this district, State Senator Stephen Sweeney (D), Assemblyman Douglas Fisher (D), and Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D), will be in attendance, so it will serve as a prime opportunity for you to ask them to state their position in an open and public forum on the Second Amendment and gun-related issues, such as the "smart gun" legislation (S 573 and A 700) currently pending in your state legislature. Please contact their Thorofare office at (856) 251-9801 to confirm attendance or for more information.

 

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.