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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 10, No. 16 4/18/2003

<align=center>IN SENATE BATTLE

U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), one of Congress’s most strident and long-serving anti-gun voices, fired what could be considered the first legislative salvo in what will undoubtedly be a complex battle to pass reckless lawsuit preemption legislation in the U.S. Senate. His shot was wide of its mark.

On Friday, April 11—just one day after the U.S. House of Representatives passed its own reckless lawsuit preemption bill (H.R. 1036) on an overwhelming, bipartisan 285-140 vote—Kennedy offered an anti-firearm industry amendment to S. 274, which was defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee. S. 274 seeks to establish several reforms for class action lawsuits, and is not designed to specifically protect law-abiding firearm manufacturers from the unique threat they face from predatory lawsuits that are designed to drive them into bankruptcy. Nonetheless, some of the reforms in the legislation could help diminish the threat of certain aspects of the reckless suit campaign being waged against gun makers. Sen. Kennedy’s amendment, which failed on a vote of 11-7, sought to carve out the firearm industry from any of the modest protections S. 274 sought to establish.

Currently, law-abiding gun makers are the only industry facing the serious risk of being driven out of business through a coordinated attack of endless and meritless litigation. This attempt to advance the gun-ban agenda through the courts—thus circumventing the legislative process—has been spearheaded by the gun-ban lobby, anti-gun big city mayors, and greedy trial attorneys. In order to put an end to this shameless abuse of our judicial process, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1036 last week, as reported. This critical reform would only allow civil suits in circumstances where a truly defective product has caused its lawful user harm, or if a gun manufacturer, distributor, or dealer has been found guilty of actually violating one of the thousands of laws that regulate firearms. The Senate’s version, S. 659, was introduced with 52 cosponsors—a majority of Senators—and enjoys bipartisan support, with nine Democrats signed on.

The real Senate battle over reckless lawsuit preemption, however, has yet to begin. Congress is currently on its Spring District Work Period, and is not scheduled to reconvene until April 28.

It is crucial that you call both your U.S. Senators and urge them to help bring an end to predatory, meritless lawsuits designed to wipe out the firearm industry. Let your Senators know that it is crucial that they support S. 659, and halt the abuse of our courts by anti-gun extremists who are trying to usurp congressional authority with the aid of greedy trial lawyers and activist judges and juries. Also urge them to support the will of the majority by working to derail the filibuster anti-gun Senators have threatened to launch to defeat S. 659. Anti-gun extremists opposed to this reform are clearly in the minority, and will use whatever means are available to them to support the efforts of their cohorts in the gun-ban lobby.

Your Senators should be in their home state, so you should contact them at the district office closest to you and voice your support of S. 659, and ask them if you are able to schedule a personal meeting. If you do not know your Senators’ district office numbers, you can use our "Write Your Representatives" tool . And for a list of Senate cosponsors of S. 659, you can go to the Library of Congress website.




The first group of pilots to have undergone extensive background checks and rigorous training could soon be equipped with firearms as a last line of defense against terrorist hijackers. Today’s Washington Post reports that the first armed pilots could be in the cockpit as early as this Sunday. Nearly four dozen volunteer pilots took part in the initial training program, which one described to the Post as "brutal work." The training has been completely anonymous, with not even the airlines knowing which of their pilots are enrolled. Once fully authorized, pilots will be required to give their airline 24-hour notification prior to flying.


Michael Moore, the anti-gun film maker who recently won an Academy Award for his film Bowling for Columbine, is now the target of an online effort that seeks to have his Oscar® revoked. RevoketheOscar.com includes information on how to contact the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which awarded the prize, and offers guidance on how to effectively communicate the message that Moore’s award should be rescinded. The general argument that Moore’s movie should never have been nominated, much less given the award, because it doesn’t qualify as a documentary under the Academy’s own rules is supported both on the site, and via links to numerous articles about Moore’s movie. For more details, click here.



The NRA’s Michigan Youth Education Summit (Y.E.S.) program will be held this spring in Lansing, May 22-25! This is the second year for the Michigan Y.E.S. program, and this year’s is expected to be bigger and better than the last! This year’s Michigan Y.E.S. is open to high school sophomores and juniors who meet the requirements and complete the application process. The program is a fully funded four-day scholastic leadership program in the state capital, where students will have the opportunity to learn about their state’s history, tour the Capitol and Supreme Court, meet with state legislators, be introduced to public speaking and debating, spend time at a local range, meet other students from across the state, and make friendships that last a lifetime! One student from the Michigan Y.E.S. will be selected for an all-expense paid trip to the National Y.E.S. program at NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Va., this June, where he or she will have the opportunity to tour Washington, D.C., and compete for $20,000 in college scholarships! We are currently accepting applications for the Michigan Y.E.S. If you know of a student who could benefit from this program, please help us by telling him about this great opportunity. For more details and an application, contact Lauren Eden at NRA Headquarters today, 800-NRA-3888, ext. 1342, or via e-mail at leden@nrahq.org.



The "Jay M. Littlefield Memorial NRA-ILA Volunteer of the Year Award" is an annual honor that recognizes an NRA member who demonstrates exceptionally meritorious activism in defense of our Second Amendment rights. Similarly, the "NRA-ILA Volunteer Organization of the Year Award" is bestowed upon a group that has gone above and beyond the call of duty in defending our freedoms over the past year. Nominations for these honors for last year (2002) should be submitted to: NRA-ILA Volunteer Awards, c/o Chris Manthos, NRA-ILA Grassroots Division, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030. They can also be faxed to Chris at (703) 267-3918. All nominations must be submitted by NRA members in good standing and accompanied by a one page description of why the nominated individual or organization is deserving. Winners will be selected by NRA-ILA staff, and will be acknowledged at this year’s Fall Board of Directors Meeting. The deadline for submissions is July 1, 2003.




HB 2353, a bill that makes dramatic improvements to the handgun permit reciprocity statute in Arizona, passed the full Senate by a vote of 26-3. Thank you for contacting your state Senator and asking that he support this critical legislation. The bill now moves to Governor Janet Napolitano (D) for her consideration. Please call Governor Napolitano at (602) 542-4331 and ask her to sign HB 2353.


The deadline for action on Senate Bill 1195—the Daley Gun Ban—has been extended to December 31. That means the bill could come up for a vote any time the legislature is in session. Also, anti-gun members of the House are planning to revive the gun-show bill in the form of an amendment, but at this time it is unclear what bill they are going to use as a vehicle since there are several available. Please call your Representative and Senator and tell them that Illinois has enough gun laws and to vote NO on all gun control proposals.



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.