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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 10, No. 12 3/21/2003


U.S. Senators Larry Craig

(R-Id.)—also anNRA Director—andMax Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced the Senate’s version of reckless lawsuit preemption,S. 659, on Wednesday, March 19. Fifty-two Senators have signed on to this bill—which seeks to end the gun-ban lobby’s efforts to drive law-abiding firearm manufacturers into bankruptcy under the crushing weight of their predatory, illegitimate lawsuits—representing a majority of the Senate’s 100 members. With nine Democrats already signed on as cosponsors, includingSenate Minority Whip Harry Reid (D-Nev.), as well as every Senate Republican who holds a leadership position, S. 659 has solid bipartisan and leadership support. Coupled with the February 27 introduction of the House version of reckless lawsuit preemption, H. R. 1036, the anti-gun extremists at the Brady Campaign/HCI must be gravely concerned Congress is prepared to remove one of the principal weapons from the gun-ban lobby’s arsenal.


But until reckless lawsuit preemption becomes law, the firearm and ammunition industry will continue to be subject to the threat of predatory litigation. HCI and anti-gun big city mayors will continue to shop for judicial venues where they can find judges and juries that are sympathetic to their gun-ban agenda.

In fact, as we reported last week, a ruling by a judge in New Jersey will allow three cases promoted by anti-gun mayors and HCI to proceed, and this week a judge in West Virginia

made a similar decision to allow another HCI-backed case to continue. These rulings, while at the earliest stages of the cases, represent the need for reckless lawsuit preemption legislation. While firearm manufacturers remain confident they will prevail, as long as these baseless, meritless cases are allowed to proceed, they will be a draining financial burden for all gun makers—a cost that will inevitably be passed on to future gun purchasers. In a response to the ruling in New Jersey, National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane said, "[These cases] are ultimately doomed to failure because their allegations have been proven to be without basis in fact." He went on to state, "Today’s decision demonstrates the urgent need for Congress to pass common sense legal reform in order to restore integrity and fairness to our judicial system." Keane voiced his support for reckless lawsuit preemption, saying, "This abuse of the legal system could be stopped with the passage of [H.R.] 1036, written to protect law-abiding manufacturers from such groundless suits. More than 30 states have already passed similar legislation. Those with an interest in manufacturing or selling manufactured goods of any kind should consider asking their Representatives and Senators to quickly pass HR 1036 and [S. 659]."


Those lawmakers who have already signed on to these bills deserve our thanks, so please call them to express your support. Those who have not should be encouraged to sign on as cosponsors. To find out if your federal lawmakers have signed on yet, go to the Library of Congress website.


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.




Joseph Ganim (D), the mayor of Bridgeport, Conn., was found guilty of 16 of 21 charges on Wednesday, March 19, in a federal corruption trial. The jury handed down guilty verdicts on charges that included racketeering, extortion, bribery, mail fraud, and filing a false tax return. An MSNBC article said the prosecution had "painted Ganim as a greedy man who felt entitled to more than $500,000 in illegal benefits from his associates in return for steering millions of dollars in contracts to them and their clients." In an editorial posted to the New Haven Register’s website, the Connecticut paper charged, "For no other reason, Joe Ganim deserves a long time behind bars for wasting the court’s time with this trial."

Of course, Ganim is no stranger to wasting the time of courts, not to mention taxpayer dollars. He was, after all, the driving force behind Bridgeport’s doomed reckless lawsuit against the firearm industry, which was initially dismissed because the city lacked "...any statutory authorization to initiate...claims." And while Ganim insisted on wasting more tax money by appealing the dismissal, it met its final demise at the hands of the Connecticut Supreme Court in October 2001.

Perhaps Ganim wasted taxpayer dollars on his reckless lawsuit because he truly believed in the absurd notion that the firearm and ammunition industry should be held civilly liable for the unforeseeable criminal actions of others. Or, perhaps, he used the litigation in a desperate attempt to distract attention from his mounting legal troubles. Regardless of the reasons, justice was served when Ganim’s reckless suit was rejected. A second helping of justice was served this week with the handing down of 16 guilty verdicts. A third course, the sentencing, is scheduled for July 1, when Ganim could be sentenced to serve up to 126 years in prison, and ordered to pay as much as $500,000 in restitution and $4 million in fines. If Ganim receives the maximum sentence, his final serving will truly be his just "deserts."



HB 2353, which would establish full recognition of out-of-state Right to Carry permits and is sponsored by Representative Chuck Gray (R-19), passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be considered on the Senate floor next week. HB 2319, sponsored by Representatives Randy Graf (R-30) and Russell Pearce (R-18), seeks to authorize restaurant owners to allow law-abiding citizens to carry firearms in their establishments, and has been amended to include language that will protect gun shows from regulation by cities and counties. Please be sure to call your State Senator as soon as possible at (602) 542-3559 and urge him to support HB 2353, and HB 2319 as amended. For more information, visit the state’s website.


Thanks to all of your hard work and phone calls, March 18 was a triumphant day for Colorado gun owners. Governor Bill Owens (R) signed 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 both the Denver and Colorado Springs gun registries and the Denver "assault weapons" law. Both laws will take effect immediately. Our thanks go out to Governor Owens and the legislature for making Colorado a safer place to live.



On Tuesday, March 25, the Assembly`s Transportation Committee will hear Assembly Bill 115. Sponsored by Assemblyman Don Gustavson (R-30), AB 115 would provide for the issuance of a special license place indicating support for the Second Amendment. Proceeds from the sale of the specialty plate would go into a fund for firearms training and education programs in the Nevada school system. Approvals of this measure are dependent upon the number of interested parties, so please call the members of the Assembly Transportation Committee at (775) 684-8584, and encourage their "YES" vote. Also call AB 115 sponsor, Assemblyman Don Gustavson, so he can add NRA members to his list of supporters. Be sure to thank him for his continuous support. For more information, visit www.leg.state.nv.us.


This week, NRA-backed Right to Carry bills SB 23, sponsored by Senator Shannon Robinson (D-17), and HB 916, sponsored by Representative John Heaton (D-15), passed the House Judiciary Committee, the House Appropriations & Finance Committee and, finally, the House floor on 50-19 and 50-18 votes, respectively. While it looks like time will run out on HB 916, SB 23 has already passed the Senate. It is expected that the Senate will vote to concur with House amendments to SB 23 before final adjournment on Saturday evening, sending SB 23 to Governor Bill Richardson (D) for his expected signature. Thanks to all of you who made phone calls and trips to Santa Fe in support of these bills; this is a tremendous grassroots victory!



Senate Bill 33, NRA-backed Right to Carry Reciprocity legislation, has been approved by the State Senate by a vote of 46-3. SB 33, sponsored by Senator Scott Thomas (D-02), would give valid carry permit holders from other 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. The reciprocity bill now heads to the House for consideration. Please contact your State Representative and urge him to support reciprocity legislation when it comes before him in the House. Please, also, take a moment to contact the members of the Senate to thank them for their support. You can find contact information by using our "Write Your Representatives" tool.


Thanks to all your phone calls,House Bill 1182, NRA-backed legislation that would remove the 1% Tourism Tax from nonprofit shooting ranges, was signed into law by Governor Mike Rounds (R). Thanks, also, to NRA state affiliate, South Dakota Shooting Sports Association, for all of their hard work!


Senator Ken Armbrister’s (D-18) SB 501 remains on the Senate Intent Calendar and eligible for consideration by the full Senate next week. This NRA-backed legislation prohibits cities and counties from using the state’s criminal trespass law to post signs and ban access by concealed handgun licensees (CHLs) in public buildings. Please call your State Senators and urge them to support SB 501! You can find contact information by using our "Write Your Representatives" tool.


Senate Bill 5083

, NRA-backed reciprocity legislation, has passed the Senate and has yet to be scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. Please Contact members of the House Judiciary Committee urging them to support HB 5083. Senate Bill 5910, NRA-backed range protection legislation, has passed the Senate and has yet to be scheduled for a hearing in the Local Government Committee. It is vital that you also contact members of the Local Government Committee and urge them to support SB 5910. For a list of committee members and phone numbers on both these bills, please call NRA-ILA`s Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683, or 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.