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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 10, No. 27 7/3/2003


One of NRA-ILA`s top legislative priorities in Congress continues to be the passage of a federal law to block reckless lawsuits against the firearms industry.  The clock is ticking as debate over S. 659—the Senate version of reckless lawsuit preemption—continues.  At this critical time, it is more important than ever that you contact your U.S. Senators in support of S. 659 and ask them to do everything in their power to ensure that this common sense bill is approved.  Please take action, and then forward this information to your family, friends, and fellow firearm owners and ensure that they do the same. You can call your U.S. Senators at (202) 224-3121, or you can use our "Write Your Representatives" tool at www.NRAILA.org to find contact information.  For a list of Senate cosponsors of  S. 659, you can go to the Library of Congress website, at http://thomas.loc.gov.


By Tim Fisher, NRA Foundation

Ah, the Fourth of July.  What images it conjures up. A warm summer day with the smell of politically-incorrect meat cooking on the grill, a cold beverage in hand, and that clanking noise coming from the horseshoe pit. As the shadows lengthen, the giggling of small children permeates the air as they chase fireflies in the back yard. The splendor of which is interrupted, only too briefly, by cascading showers of colorful sparks and the boom of concussion fireworks—my personal favorite. Some years, and this is one of them, the celebration comes with a bonus, called the three-day weekend. With all of the parades, picnic food, and fireworks, it is easy to forget how close we came to not having anything to celebrate.

Though preceded by other acts of aggression and ingratitude toward an exasperated monarch, this was the day, in 1776, that we officially poked King George III in the eye with a sharp stick. Those who pay little attention to our history, might assume that declaring our independence was a simple matter of completing those infamous change-of-address cards and moving on. Such was not the case, however, and what had been declared on a hot summer day in July was in desperate need of salvation on a bitterly cold Christmas night in December. Salvation came all right, in a providential nick of time, at a place called Trenton. 

If you read the American or British correspondence written in the closing hours of 1776, it is difficult to determine which side was more convinced of the imminent collapse of the revolution. On December 21, General James Grant, commander of the British troops in New Jersey, wrote to Lieutenant Colonel Johann Gottlieb Rall, commander of the Hessians garrisoned at Trenton: "The American army was `almost naked`, dying of cold, without blankets, and very ill-supplied with provisions. On this east side of the Delaware they have not three hundred men." 

On December 22, Colonel Joseph Reed penned these words to General George Washington: "We are all of the opinion, my dear General, that something must be attempted to revive our expiring credit, give our cause some degree of reputation, and prevent a total depreciation of the Continental money...that even a failure cannot be more fatal than to remain in our present situation; in short some enterprise must be undertaken...or we must give up the cause. In a little time the Continental Army will be dissolved." Many a Patriot leader must have wondered if the gallows awaited them in the New Year.

In this bubbling cauldron of gloom and despair a plan was cooked up to cross the ice-choked Delaware River on Christmas night and surprise the Hessian German mercenaries in their beds the following morning. Moving men and artillery across the river was nearly impossible. Ice continually clung to the flat-bottomed boats, driving them downstream. Barefoot soldiers with cracked and bloody feet jumped up and down in the flat-bottomed boats to shake off the ice. The hazardous crossing was made even more precarious by violent wind, rain, snow, and hail.  

The Patriots who were about to attack Trenton were all ill-fed, ill-clothed, cold, and sleep-deprived. Many were sick and some were literally walking wounded. They were easy to track, not because of the snow, but because of the bloody footprints they left behind as they marched the last nine miles before going into battle. Thoughts of home most surely overtook them as they marched, and it was far more than loneliness that drew their thoughts to home. The British were not particularly kind to their country cousins deemed to be rebels. Homes were burned, cattle slaughtered, fruit orchards cut down, loved ones were imprisoned, and women, including young girls, were raped. As dawn broke on December 26,the day of the attack, most of these Patriots had less than one week left of their enlistment. They all knew it. George Washington knew it, too. 

George Washington did indeed roust the Hessians out of their beds that morning, and after a few ill-fated attempts at escape, and with the realization that they were completely surrounded, the Hessians surrendered. Few were killed or wounded and the Battle of Trenton produced a desperately needed victory, and supplies. Don`t forget the supplies—food, blankets, shoes, artillery pieces, gunpowder, and stands of small arms. Christmas had come to the Continentals after all, albeit a day late. Victory at Princeton soon followed and resulted in the enemy vacating all but the easternmost part of New Jersey. This had an incalculable effect in restoring the shattered Patriot morale. The war would last for nearly five more years, but enlistments swelled after the double victory. A British traveler, Nicholas Cresswell, noted that, "Volunteer companies are collecting in every county...and in a few months the rascals will be stronger than ever...damn them all."

As 1776 faded into the history books, many enlistees did indeed go home, but some stayed. In 1832, a man known only as Sergeant R. recounted his personal recollection of Washington pleading with his regiment after the Battle of Trenton to stay on six more weeks. About 200 volunteered to stay and fully half of them died a few days later at Princeton or shortly thereafter of smallpox. 

So between sets of horseshoes, plinking at targets, baiting a hook, or eating your third helping of Aunt Millie`s potato salad—for just a little bit, think about a cold day in December and be thankful. Be very, very thankful. Freedom is fragile and is never free. While we enjoy a day with family and friends, today`s American patriots will be on watch in subways at home and in deserts half a world away, making sure we all have a nice day. Think of them and give thanks.

NRA-ILA is thankful for you, for your steadfast support and commitment to freedom.  We ask you to please continue your support and commitment at this critical time.  Contact your lawmakers in opposition to re-authorizing and extending the Clinton gun ban (S. 1034/H.R. 2038), and urge your Senators to support legislation to end reckless lawsuits against the gun industry (S. 659).  Attend Town Hall meetings to make your views known on these issues.  Talk to your family, friends, fellow firearm owners, and co-workers.  In short, stay involved and stay engaged.  Your support of our mission—the preservation of freedom and the Second Amendment—brings honor to the memory and sacrifice of all the Patriots throughout our nation`s history.  As together we celebrate our 227th anniversary of independence, we wish you all the very best. May God bless you and yours, and may God bless the United States of America!


With U.S. military forces serving overseas to protect all of our freedoms at home, it`s no surprise to find that many of them also fight on the homefront to protect America`s first freedom, the Second Amendment.   One such soldier is NRA member, 1LT. Hiram Lewis, a member of the Judge Advocate General Corps., who is currently serving with the 111th Engineer Group, West Virginia Army National Guard in Kuwait. 

His service to our country goes back nearly 10 years when, after graduating from West Virginia University in 1994 with a degree in finance, he enlisted in the U.S. Army.  For three years he was an Airborne Ranger with the 3rd Ranger Battalion at Fort Benning, Georgia, serving as Radiotelephone Operator, Rifleman, SAW Gunner, and Operations NCO.  He has been awarded the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and Good Conduct Medal.   He has also earned his Expert Infantryman Badge and Canadian Jump Wings.  In 1998, he returned to his alma mater to earn a second degree in accounting, as well as a law degree.  When he`s back home in Morgantown, W.Va., Lieutenant Lewis practices law in his firm, LewisLaw.

Before being deployed earlier this year, Lieutenant Lewis had been working with NRA-ILA as the Election Volunteer Coordinator (EVC) for West Virginia`s First Congressional District.  In this volunteer role, last year, he assisted NRA-Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) endorsed candidates by organizing and conducting literature drops, walking precincts, doing phone banks, and assisting with various Election Day activities.  He is an active supporter of NRA-ILA and is also a member of the West Virginia State Rifle & Pistol Association and West Virginia Muzzle Loaders. 

His absence this year has certainly left a void in the EVC program in West Virginia, but we all know that he is playing a critically important role in defending our liberty overseas.  However, when his military service will allow, Lieutenant Lewis has said he is eager to return to his role as EVC.  In the interim, if you are interested in the learning more about the EVC program or would like to take on absence as we gear up for the 2004 elections, please contact the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683.

Our heartfelt thanks go out to Lieutenant Lewis for his service to his country and for protectingour Right to Keep and Bear Arms.  We look forward to his, and all of those who wear our nation`s uniform, safe return from Operation Iraqi Freedom.

We know that Lieutenant Lewis` service to his country is not unique among NRA members, supporters, and EVCs.  We greatly appreciate all  who are currently serving, or have served in the past, our country in the armed services. 


With the 2003 elections rapidly approaching, gun owners in Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia have a tremendous opportunity to elect officials who will support our Second Amendment rights.  This will not be possible, however, unless you make your voice heard by
voting, and encouraging your family, friends, and fellow gun owners to do the same. Therefore, it is critical that gun owners in these states are registered to vote for the November Elections, and for the upcoming Primary Elections. Below is some information on the remaining Primary Elections and the corresponding voter registration deadlines.

Primary Election: October 4, 2003
Primary Election
Voter Registration Deadline: September 4, 2003

Primary Election: August 5, 2003
Primary Election
Voter Registration Deadline: July 5, 2003

 To obtain a voter registration application, or information for your state, please go to the "Voter Registration" section of www.NRAILA.org (where you can register to vote on-line), or call NRA-ILA`s Grassroots Division at (800) 392-VOTE (8683).

Please be sure to register to vote in the November General Election, as well as in your state`s Primary Election if it hasn`t already occurred. Gun shops, gun shows, gun clubs, and ranges are great natural resources for the gun-owning community to register other pro-Second Amendment voters.  If you would like a quantity of voter registration forms to help register like-minded voters, please call the Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683.


The current issue of Field & Stream magazine contains results of its survey outlining the state of hunting.  While the survey contains many heartening items, it also highlights the need for the pro-Second Amendment community to further reach out to and mobilize hunters in support of our Second Amendment rights.  Among the highlights of the survey are: 63% more women are hunting today than a decade ago; 83% of hunters plan on introducing their children to hunting; 64% are equally concerned about gun rights and land conservation; 57% of respondents say they are NRA members; 86% rated the job NRA is doing as "very good," "excellent," or "good."   However, some of the responses demonstrate the continued need for us to reach out to sportsmen across America to ensure they are educated on issues affecting our gun rights and to activate them as volunteers.  Rest assured this effort is a priority for NRA-ILA, and we encourage you to assist by ensuring those you hunt with understand the important role they play in our efforts to preserve our freedom.


A June 25 article in the Palm Beach Post detailed another unsuccessful attempt by the "Million" Mom March to rally its supporters  against lawful firearms ownership.  Waning interest in the group`s agenda was evidenced by their recent event at the West Palm Beach (Fla.) City Hall, which, though highly publicized, attracted a total of four persons!  At last year`s meeting, the attendees numbered "about three."  Sadly, many of those that do attend are relatives of victims of violence who seek relief through misguided efforts to restrict the rights of law-abiding firearms owners.  Undeterred by the obvious lack of support, and determined to continue its anti-gun mission, the group is currently lobbying for the renewal of the Clinton gun ban.



The 2003 Legislative Session came to a close on Monday, June 30, with a victory for gun owners. The legislature passed HB 178, sponsored by Rep. Nancy Wagner (R-31). HB 178 establishes a reciprocity system to recognize Right to Carry permits issued in other states. Also, two other important bills were not voted on, but will carry over until next session. HB 164, sponsored by Rep. Richard Cathcart (R-9), protects Delaware`s shooting ranges from urban encroachment, and HB 160, sponsored by Rep. John Atkins (R-41), allows hunting on Sunday afternoons. Action will resume on both of these bills in January, so continue to visit www.NRAILA.org for updates and alerts.

NRA is closed tomorrow, Friday, July 4. 
Have a safe and happy Independence Day weekend!


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.