<align=center>REMAINS TOP PRIORITY
As we reported in last week’s Grassroots Alert (Vol. 10, No. 3), the gun-ban lobby continues to try to advance its agenda of driving law-abiding gun manufacturers out of business with a campaign of promoting predatory lawsuits. These suits, primarily filed by anti-gun big city mayors working in collusion with the gun-ban lobby, have consistently been thrown out of courts, and eight have already met their certain demise through either final judgement, legislative prohibition, or the litigants simply abandoning their frivolous campaign in the face of certain defeat.
But while the losses continue to mount for the ridiculous argument that law-abiding gun makers should be held responsible for the criminal misuse of their lawful products, the firearms and ammunition industry will continue to bear the crushing financial burden of having to defend itself against these predatory lawsuits as long as this reckless abuse of the courts is allowed to continue. For this reason, one of NRA’s top priorities during this congressional session will be the passage of federal legislation that will prohibit these junk lawsuits. We had tremendous success last year gaining support for bills in the House and the Senate, but time ran out before either could be given full consideration. The House bill (H.R. 2037) ended up with 231 cosponsors, more than a majority of congressmen, while the Senate’s version (S. 2268) ended up with 46 cosponsors, which is almost a majority. Although no legislation has been introduced to date, it is still early in the session, and NRA is working with our friends in Congress to ensure that bills are introduced in each chamber as early as possible. Thirty states have enacted similar legislation.
Please contact your U.S. Representative and both of your U.S. Senators and urge them to support and cosponsor federal reckless lawsuit preemption legislation that will bring an end to this unwarranted harassment of law-abiding gun manufacturers. You can reach your U.S. Representative by calling (202) 225-3121, and your U.S. Senators by calling (202) 224-3121. For additional contact information, use our "Write Your Representatives" tool.
CONFESSIONS OF AN INSENSITIVE MIND
It would appear that actor George Clooney believes there is not enough callous rhetoric emanating from Hollywood these days, so he has apparently appointed himself the entertainment industry’s Dean of Mean. While receiving an award from the National Board of Reviews of Motion Pictures on January 14, Clooney took the opportunity to make a cold-hearted "joke" at the expense of NRA President Charlton Heston and his battle with Alzheimer’s, quipping that Mr. Heston made another announcement that he had the disease. Some may have attributed the comment to a momentary lapse of civility or common sense, so when gossip columnist Liz Smith asked Clooney if he had gone too far, she gave the actor an easy opportunity to retract his statement and apologize for being so viciously insensitive. But the actor showed just how insensitive he was to those afflicted with, or affected by, the disease. Smith wrote in her January 19 column that Clooney responded to her question by saying, "I don’t care. Charlton Heston is the head of the National Rifle Association; he deserves whatever anyone says about him." Smith, apparently satisfied with that response, moved on to gush over Clooney, whom she refers to as a "movie idol" who is "catnip to women, men, kids, and animals." Smith also referred to Clooney as someone who is "almost everyone’s type. (Except for conservatives.)"
But Clooney (and Smith) may be finding out that it’s not just conservatives who think it’s inappropriate for celebrities to make fun of people with debilitating diseases simply because they don’t share the same views. While most of the media and Clooney’s Hollywood pals have given the actor an apparent pass on his insensitive comment, not everyone is granting passive approval with their silence. FOX News’s Bill O’Reilly, who has a history of confrontation with Clooney, called the comment about Heston "mean-spirited," and offered his own analysis as to why Clooney would be so heartless when talking about someone afflicted with an incurable disease. "I believe it’s because [Clooney] has contempt and possibly hatred for those with whom he disagrees," O’Reilly said. "He doesn’t like the NRA, so anything he says about Heston is justified in his mind." And Richard Walter, a professor at UCLA who teaches radio and television, agreed with O’Reilly’s view that the "joke" was mean-spirited. And at least one die-hard liberal has spoken out against Clooney’s remark. James Carville, the outspoken Democrat strategist who helped Bill Clinton win the 1992 presidential election, said on CNN’s Crossfire, "...George Clooney shouldn’t have said that." He went on to say, "I have been touched by this disease myself in my own family. And that’s nothing to laugh about."
But perhaps Clooney simply doesn’t care what others think? He seems to have taken his status as a celebrity as justification for foisting his personal opinions on the general public in an attempt to promote his leftist political views, and it would appear he feels the ends justify whatever means. Smith says Clooney "embraces the label ‘political liberal,’" which would certainly explain the elitist attitude he seems to share with other liberal activists who presume their Hollywood pedigrees entitle them to have a major voice in shaping public policy. While discussing Clooney’s attack of Heston, UCLA’s Walter lamented to O’Reilly, "...[T]he narcissism of entertainers...makes them believe that they are experts in things that they really know nothing about." While there are certainly some from Hollywood who have become well-versed in the areas of activism in which they operate, most are not, and simply begin using their status as a means to express opinions on issues on which they are woefully uninformed. Perhaps more entertainers should follow the lead of the late Fred Gwynne, an actor best known for his roles on the TV shows Car 54, Where Are You? and The Munsters. During one interview, he commented that he felt actors should not get on a soapbox.
We don’t anticipate an apology for Clooney’s reckless disregard for the feelings of the millions of Americans who are personally affected by Alzheimer’s. But we do hope to hear more words of condemnation from the entertainment industry and the media regarding his comment. Mr. Heston has chosen not to comment at this time, but Bill Powers, one of his spokesmen, stated, "It just goes to show that sometimes class does skip a generation," a reference to the respect and admiration most people have for Clooney’s late aunt, Rosemary Clooney. Perhaps even the gun-ban lobby may wish to speak up. After all, Liz Smith describes Clooney as a "heavy hitter against the gun lobby," although it’s unclear how he earned that characterization. Perhaps Sarah Brady herself will condemn Clooney’s words as publicly as she did when she offered her "thoughts" to Heston and his family when she first heard about his condition. Or is Clooney’s brand of cruel "humor" considered acceptable when it comes from Hollywood’s elite or is aimed at a legend in the pro-gun movement?
MARTIN DENIED PAROLE
, the British farmer convicted of murder for killing a burglar who had broken into his home, was denied parole, for the second time, on January 16. And while the Parole Board gave no reason for turning him down, a British online news outlet, telegraph.co.uk, reported a friend of Martin’s alleged it was because a probation report labeled the farmer "a danger to burglars." Others suggest his parole was denied because Martin will not express remorse for his actions.
Martin gained international attention when he was convicted of murder after shooting two burglars who had broken into his home in August 1999, one of whom died. The farmer’s isolated home in Norfolk, England, had been burglarized numerous times prior to the shooting. Although the general outcry of opposition to the treatment of Tony Martin throughout his ordeal has been heard around the world, the British courts have offered little relief. First, Martin’s appeal of his conviction on grounds of self-defense was denied, and then his request to have his case presented before the House of Lords was rejected. Even new forensic evidence that supported Martin’s testimony wasn’t enough to warrant an acquittal, although his conviction was reduced to manslaughter, and his sentence reduced to five years. The Norfolk farmer should qualify for release in July, after having served two-thirds of his sentence.
The experience of Tony Martin is just one sign that things have gone horribly awry in England. Ever since the government began imposing draconian restrictions on the ownership of firearms, including a complete prohibition on owning firearms for personal protection, violent crime—especially firearm-related violent crime—has been increasing at an alarming rate. Now another British paper, The Express, reports that burglars will not face any jail time for first or second convictions, and the police have determined they will not automatically investigate reports of burglaries. This would seem to be a recipe for an explosion in home break-ins. If criminals can be secure knowing they won’t face an armed homeowner, don’t face the threat of any real punishment until after they are caught invading people’s homes a couple times, and the likelihood of them being caught at all is diminished because the police won’t automatically investigate every case, what is the real deterrent to breaking into someone’s home? Considering most homeowners have already been disarmed, then it sounds like the Golden Age of Burglars is about to begin in England.
PASSING OF BILL MAULDIN
America lost another WWII legend this week, when two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Bill Mauldin passed away on Wednesday, January 22. Mauldin was best known for his poignant depiction of the day-to-day life of America’s GIs fighting on the front lines during WWII, told primarily through the experiences of Willie and Joe. A supporter of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms, in 1985, Mauldin allowed NRA to use several of his cartoons for an article on the revered M1911—a firearm featured prominently in several of the cartoonist’s works. Mauldin died at the age of 81 due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Mauldin family.
NRA Members are invited to attend CPAC 2003—the 30th Annual Conservative Political Action Conference, January 30 - February 1, 2003, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va. CPAC is the nation’s premier annual gathering of conservative leaders, celebrities, elected officials, and grassroots activists. Confirmed speakers for this year’s Conference include Vice President Dick Cheney, House Majority Leader Tom Delay, Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, NRA First Vice President Kayne Robinson, Phyllis Schlafly, and many more political pundits and congressional leaders. CPAC is co-sponsored by NRA and more than 60 leading conservative organizations. For additional information, or to register for the conference, call (703) 836-8602, or visit CPAC online. Also, through the CPAC student scholarship program, students with valid school ID attend CPAC for only $10!
A LOOK AT THE STATES
Two anti-gun bills have been introduced in the Legislature. AB 50, sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-42), would restrict the sale and ownership of .50 Caliber BMG rifles. Although this is a retread of last year’s bill that failed passage, Assemblyman Koretz is pinning his hopes on a batch of new legislators to give him the votes he needs to push AB 50 through the legislature. Anti-gun Senator Jack Scott (D-21) has introduced SB 35, a measure that would give the California Department of Justice the authority to establish and maintain a ballistic identification database. The fees incurred to administer the database would be passed onto the manufacturers, dealers, and consumers. Scott offers his proposal in spite of the fact that the California DOJ has already studied the idea of ballistic "fingerprinting," and the results indicate such a proposal is impractical and unreliable. For more information on AB 50 and SB 35, you can log onto the state’s website. Please contact your state lawmakers to voice your opposition to these bills. You can find contact information by using our "Write Your Representatives" tool.
House Bill 1119
will be heard in the House Committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs on January 30 at 1:30 p.m. HB 1119 fixes many problems with Colorado’s burdensome gun show law, including its broad definition of a "gun show." Please contact your Representative at (800) 811-7647, and ask them to support HB 1119. Also, Senate Bill 25 is scheduled to be heard as soon as today by the Senate. Sponsored by Senator Jim Dyer (R-26), SB 25 assigns firearm regulation authority solely to the Legislature, making gun laws uniform across the State of Colorado. This will bring to an end the confusing patchwork quilt of laws relating to firearms Colorado currently has in place,and prohibit cities and counties from making their own restrictive rules in the future. It is vital that you contact your state senator and urge them to support SB 25. You can call them at (888) 473-8136, or use our "Write Your Represenatives" tool if you are unsure of which senator represents you.