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APPEARS IN Grassroots

Grassroots Alert: Vol. 10, No. 11 3/14/2003

RECKLESS LAWSUIT PREEMPTION
<align=center>REMAINS IN NRA SPOTLIGHT

 

Reckless lawsuit preemption legislation remains one of the top priorities for NRA this Congress. H.R. 1036, the House version of this critical reform, was introduced on February 27, and its 243 original cosponsors—a number that easily exceeds a simple majority of U.S. Representatives—indicates this Congress may be ready to deliver the final nail in the coffin for the predatory lawsuits advanced by anti-gun extremists. This reckless lawsuit agenda, promoted, funded, and litigated by the Brady Campaign/HCI and anti-gun big city mayors (who are misusing taxpayer dollars to fund this anti-gun strategy), is designed to drive law-abiding gun makers into bankruptcy. It seeks to force them to defend themselves against the absurd allegation that the firearm industry should be held accountable when violent criminals go through illegal channels to obtain lawful, non-defective firearms, then use them to commit violent crimes.

Those lawmakers who have already signed on to this legislation deserve our thanks, so please call them to express your support. Those who have not should be encouraged to sign on as cosponsors, and U.S. Senators need to be encouraged to support a companion bill in the Senate.

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.

 

NEW JERSEY APPELLATE RULING
<align=center>ALLOWS RECKLESS LAWSUITS TO PROCEED

 

On March 11, a New Jersey appeals court handed the gun-ban lobby a minor victory, when it determined the reckless lawsuits filed by the New Jersey cities of Camden, Jersey City, and Newark could proceed to trial. And while the gun-ban lobby, HCI, hailed the ruling as "a major legal defeat for the gun industry," attorneys representing the industry were relatively unimpressed. "We’re not quaking in our boots," Larry Keane told The Philadelphia Inquirer, "because at the end of the day, the cities will not be able to prove the allegations." Keane, Vice President and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc. (NSSF), went on to say, "We do not fear this litigation, because we know the allegations are not true." Timothy G. Atwood, another lawyer representing a member of the firearm industry, speculated the ruling merely indicated the judges’ political inclinations. "How else does one explain that identical theories have been advanced in 30 cases [nationwide]," he asked the Inquirer, "but in the most liberal states, courts view exactly the same allegation and take a more activist view?" Many rulings have sided against the gun-ban lobby and its flagrant abuse of the judicial process, including all where a final ruling has been handed down.

And although these predatory lawsuits often fail, their true goal of saddling law-abiding gun makers with the ever-increasing financial burden of having to defend themselves in court is having some success. The true goal, after all, is to drive gun makers into bankruptcy, which is why the gun-ban lobby’s strategy is to file as many cases as possible, in as many areas as possible. The more cases filed, the more money law-abiding gun makers must spend defending themselves, even if the charges are ridiculous. And the wider HCI casts its net of reckless litigation, the more likely it will find venues with either judges or juries that are sympathetic to its anti-gun agenda, and thus prolong the financially draining process of mounting a defense. Brian Seibel, an HCI trial lawyer, even implied as much to the Inquirer when he commented about the New Jersey ruling, hailing the fact that there will be "three different cases with three different juries."

All of HCI’s bluster over the New Jersey ruling comes on the heels of an embarrassing loss in California last week (see last week’s Grassroots Alert), which explains the attempt to distract its supporters and the media with the canard that the New Jersey ruling was somehow significant. In California, a judge rejected 12 cases against gun makers in one fell swoop. The fact that the 12 cases filed by separate municipalities (with HCI’s assistance) had all been combined into one was likely frustrating to the gun-ban lobby, as it meant less financial burden to gun makers. But even more devastating is the fact that the dismissal came after all of the evidence had been presented by the anti-gun extremists—including the affidavit by the firearms industry "insider" HCI hailed as an "explosive declaration" that represented a "watershed event" in the reckless lawsuit campaign. The New Jersey cases, on the other hand, had yet to begin the discovery phase of the trial, where evidence is actually presented.

The idea that some reckless lawsuits may be prolonged by activist judges is all the more reason for the passage of H.R. 1036, the reckless lawsuit preemption legislation currently pending in Congress. Unless these kinds of cases are prohibited by Congress, the law-abiding firearm industry runs the risk of suffering the proverbial "death of a thousand cuts." While each individual case by itself may represent only a minimal threat, multiple reckless suits could be destructive. Even some lawmakers who may not support NRA’s pro-gun views support putting an end to the reckless lawsuit agenda. U.S. Representative Artur Davis (Ala.-D), whom The Birmingham News describes as "no friend to the [NRA]," told the paper he felt H.R. 1036 is "a legitimate effort to rein in some of these lawsuits." Matt Nosanchuk, the litigation director for the Violence Policy Center—a relatively obscure extremist organization that advocates banning all handguns—posed to The Birmingham News the exceptionally ridiculous questions, "If these cases are so frivolous, why are they so afraid to let them go forward? If they’re so confident of their position, why do they go to the legislatures and to Congress to shut them down?" Perhaps if Matt had to defend himself against dozens of suits that had no basis or merit he’d understand.

PLAN TO ATTEND
<align=center>ORLANDO GRASSROOTS WORKSHOP

 

The NRA-ILA Grassroots Division will host a FREE Grassroots Workshop in conjunction with NRA’s Annual Meetings in Orlando. This Workshop has been a regular part of NRA’s Annual Meetings for nearly a decade. At this event, you will hear from NRA leaders, staff, and your fellow NRA members on what you can do in your own community to further strengthen and defend our Second Amendment rights.

We will also discuss how you can work with your local Election Volunteer Coordinator (EVC). Your EVC is a local NRA member who works with area gun owners to ensure support for ILA’s legislative activities, and also works to provide pro-gun campaigns with a steady stream of committed, pro-freedom volunteers to help with their activities leading up to Election Day. With a heavy legislative schedule in the U.S. Congress and state legislatures across the country, working with fellow pro-gun activists in your community will help ensure our mutual success. Similarly, with a number of states hosting elections this year, and with candidates for the 2004 elections already gearing up their campaigns, it is critical that we start laying our grassroots groundwork to ensure we are ready to meet these electoral challenges head on. Rest assured the anti-gunners are already re-doubling their efforts to ensure the defeat of pro-Second Amendment candidates in critical elections across the country, so we must ensure we are prepared to defeat their efforts at every turn.

Workshop details are:

NRA-ILA Grassroots Workshop-FREE!
Friday, April 25, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 Noon
(Registration & free continental breakfast
from 8:00 - 9:00 a.m.)
Florida Ballrooms 2 & 3
Peabody Orlando Hotel
9801 International Drive
Orlando, FL 32819

 

To reserve your seat at the Grassroots Workshop, please call the Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683, or click here.

132nd NRA ANNUAL MEETINGS &
<align=center>EXHIBITS—VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!

 

The2003 NRA Annual Members Meetings and Exhibits will be held in Orlando, Fla., April 24 - 27, and your NRA is looking for dedicated members to volunteer and assist with various projects necessary to stage another successful Annual Meeting. The NRA Annual Meeting is the most exciting and satisfying NRA event of the year, and by joining our team of volunteers, you will play an integral role in putting the NRA’s best foot forward, while we are in the national spotlight.

There are several areas where you can volunteer: Membership Services, Fraternal Sales, Exhibitor Registration, Firearms Safety Inspection, and Airgun Range. NRA staff, Annual Meeting Exhibitors, and the tens of thousands of your fellow NRA members attending the Annual Meeting, will greatly appreciate any time or assistance you can lend. If you would like to volunteer your time, or would like more information, please contact: Brian Hyder, Eastern Region Director, NRA Field Operations Division, 571 Howard Branch Road, Otto, NC 28763, Office: (828) 524-9480, e-mail: bhyder@nrahq.org.

A LOOK AT THE STATES

ARIZONA:

Thanks to all of the active support from NRA members in Arizona, three more NRA-backed proposals passed the full House. HB 2319, which will authorize restaurant owners to allow law-abiding citizens to carry firearms in their establishments, passed 36-21. HCR 2025, Legislative Recognition of Gun Shows, passed 39-18. HB 2318, a technical correction protecting gun shows from regulation by cities and counties, passed 36-21. These three house bills now join HB 2353, full recognition of out-of-state Right to Carry permits sponsored by Representative Chuck Gray (R-19), in the State Senate. Please be sure to call your State Senator as soon as possible at (602) 542-3559 and urge him to support all four bills when they come to a vote. For more information, visit the state’s website.

COLORADO:

Thanks to all of your hard work and phone calls, today was a triumphant one for Colorado gun owners. This morning, the Colorado House approved both Senate Bill 24, sponsored by Senator Ken Chlouber (R-04) and Representative Al White (R-57), and Senate Bill 25, sponsored by Senator Jim Dyer (R-26). SB 24 establishes a statewide "shall issue" Right to Carry system, and SB 25 preempts local guns laws, including the Denver and Colorado Springs gun registries. Both bills will now be sent to the Senate for concurrence, and then on to the Governor’s desk for approval. Thank you to all the legislators who supported this common-sense legislation! After a long fought battle, this is a well-deserved victory for Colorado’s law-abiding citizens!

ILLINOIS:

Mayor Daley’s

anti-gun agenda is gaining momentum in the State Legislature, as he pushes HB 2356 and HB 2532. HB 2356 classifies everything from a gun club meeting to a shooting tournament as a "Gun Show." It prohibits ALL private transactions at such events, unless they go through a federally licensed firearm dealer. The dealer could charge whatever fees he chooses for the service. HB 2532 is a dealer licensing bill requiring all dealers to get a license from the state at a cost of $300 every five years. Also, every sale would have to be reported to the state police, creating a registration system, and it would also allow any law enforcement agency to go into any FFL’s store and search the inventory and records at any time with no warrant. It is critical that you contact your state representatives and urge them to "OPPOSE" HB 2356 and HB 2532. You can find contact information by using our "Write Your Representatives" tool.

INDIANA:

Senate Bill 384

, sponsored by Senator Johnny Nugent (R-43), has passed the Senate and will now be heard by the House Public Policy Committee. SB 384 corrects current law to allow Right to Carry permit holders to carry their concealed firearms while operating off-road vehicles. Please contact your state representatives by using our "Write Your Representatives" tool or by calling them at (317) 232-9600, and urge them to supportSB 384.

 

NEW MEXICO:

This week the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee reported out SB 23, sponsored by Senator Shannon Robinson (D-17), and HB 916, sponsored by Representative John Heaton (D-55). These NRA-backed Right to Carry bills now move to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. Please contact members of the House Judiciary Committee as early as Saturday, and urge them to support SB 23 and HB 916 with no amendments. For a list of committee members and phone numbers, please use our "Write Your Representatives" tool.

NORTH CAROLINA:

Senate Bill 33

, NRA-backed Right to Carry Reciprocity legislation, has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 33, sponsored by Senator Scott Thomas (D-02), would give valid carry permit holders in states that have similar issuing requirements, the ability to carry their firearm for personal protection in North Carolina. This, in turn, will encourage more states to recognize North Carolina permits. Unamended, the reciprocity bill now heads to the Senate floor for consideration and could be voted on as early as next week. Please contact your state senator by using our "Write Your Representatives" tool, and urge them to vote "YES" to SB 33. Please also take a moment to contact the members of the Senate Judiciary committee to thank them for their support.

OHIO:

House Bill 12,

Right to Carry legislation, heads to the Senate floor after a contentious debate in the House Wednesday. Passing with a 69-28 vote, HB 12 would allow law-abiding citizens who have satisfied a criminal background check and taken a training course to obtain a permit to carry a handgun concealed for personal protection. It also increases the penalties on gun violence and theft. This NRA-backed legislation is also supported by the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association. Please be sure to contact your State Senator as soon as possible at (614) 466-4900, or by using our "Write Your Representatives" tool, and urge him to support action on HB 12.

TEXAS:

NRA-backed legislation, HB 878, sponsored by Representative Suzanna Gratia Hupp (R-54), and SB 501, sponsored by Senator Ken Armbrister (D-18), are both eligible for floor consideration. These bills clarify that local governments cannot post signs under the state`s criminal trespass law to prohibit concealed handgun licensees (CHLs) from entering public buildings. Please call your State Senators and urge them to support SB 501, and also call your State Representatives and urge them to back HB 878. You can find contact information by using our "Write Your Representatives" tool.

 

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.