SUPPORT LEGISLATION TO HALT
As we reported in last week`s Grassroots Alert, Senators Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) recently introduced S. 397, "The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act", in the U.S. Senate, joining Representatives Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Rick Boucher (D-Va.), who introduced companion legislation--H.R. 800--in the U.S. House. This critical legislation protects law-abiding firearm manufacturers from reckless, predatory lawsuits.
In 2003, the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" passed the U.S. House of Representatives on an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 285-140, enjoyed more than 54 Senate cosponsors, and had the full support of President Bush. Sadly, the legislation was torpedoed in the Senate in 2004 by anti-gun zealots, including former Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), who helped his fellow anti-gun Senators attach a number of anti-gun amendments to the underlying measure.
To date, 33 states have enacted laws to prohibit localities from filing these abusive suits, but that still leaves 17 states and their localities free to bankrupt a lawful, well-regulated industry. As long as gun-ban organizations, big-city mayors, and greedy trial lawyers are allowed to blame the firearm industry for the criminal misuse of its products, the entire industry is at risk of being destroyed. Remember, too, that this is the same industry that provides firearms to our fighting men and women in the U.S. military.
"The "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" enjoys support from a number of organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the National Association of Wholesalers. Dozens of national associations, unions, wildlife conservation groups, and shooting sports organizations--representing literally millions of dedicated members, workers, and sportsmen--have expressed their unqualified support for this critically important legislation.
It is imperative that you contact your U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative and ask them to cosponsor and support S.397 and H.R. 800--without any anti-gun amendments--and put a halt to these reckless lawsuits once and for all. And be sure to let them know that you consider any votes in support of anti-gun amendments to this legislation as a vote against the underlying bill itself.
To access the most up-to-date information on this issue, please go to the "Stop Reckless Lawsuits Against the Firearm Industry" heading at, www.NRAILA.org, and click the "Take Action" button. This function will allow you to easily send an e-mail or letter to your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators. Please forward this link to your family, friends, and fellow firearm owners.
You can find additional contact information for your elected officials by using the "Write Your Representatives" tool at www.NRAILA.org, or you can call your U.S. Senators at (202) 224-3121 and your U.S. Representative at (202) 225-3121.
ACT NOW TO STOP PROPOSED
SAN FRANCISCO GUN BAN
As we reported in previous Grassroots Alerts, the City of San Francisco is attempting to place a ballot measure before its voters this November banning handguns. The measure would strip any citizen of his or her right to own a handgun for any reason. Only law enforcement officers, members of the military, and security guards would be allowed to possess them. The measure would also completely ban the sale, manufacture, and distribution of all handguns and ammunition in San Francisco, as well as the transfer of shotguns and rifles. If passed in November, city residents would be forced to surrender their firearms within 90 days.
We need not hypothesize about what would happen in that city if law-abiding citizens are stripped of their right to own handguns. Washington, D.C.--the murder capital of the United States--has already proven what occurs when only criminals own guns and are free to prey upon an unarmed populace.
Over the past few decades, California has served as a laboratory for gun control experiments. And very often, sadly, what happens out west tends to drift eastward to other pockets of the United Sates. So not only would passage of the handgun ban have dire consequences for San Franciscans, but it would also no doubt serve as a harbinger for similar bans for other Americans outside of San Francisco who live under the fist of anti-gun city officials.
We will keep you posted of relevant developments on this issue in these pages and elsewhere. In the meantime, however, NRA members and supporters in San Francisco need to ensure their voter registration is current, and actively work to register other opponents to the handgun ban as well.
For information on voter registration, please visit www.NRAILA.org and visit the "Register to Vote" section. Finally, for those of you who reside outside of San Francisco, but who know pro-gun supporters living within the city, you need to ensure they are aware of this onerous proposal and are currently registered to vote.
A LOOK AT THE STATES
On February 24, a public hearing on the State Police Omnibus Anti-Gun Bill was held before the Public Safety Committee. The bill, now referred to as SB 1133, includes a ban on the private sale of long guns, and strict liability that would apply to any one person or manufacturer "transferring" a firearm. This strict liability provision is designed only to invite increased legal exposure and more frivolous lawsuits against private citizens and the firearms industry. Additionally, SB 1133 would give the authorities increased ability to permanently deem an individual a "person prohibited" from possessing firearms. Also pending in that committee is SB 714, which would ban the sale of .50 caliber rifles. The committee could vote on these measures at any time. It is critical that NRA members contact members of the committee, as well as your own lawmakers, and urge them to oppose ALL of the bills cited above and ANY gun-related bills that come before the Public Safety Committee. We also encourage you to contact members of Connecticut`s Legislative Sportsmen`s Caucus and ask them to oppose these measures. For a list of caucus or committee members and their phone numbers, please contact our NRA-ILA`s Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683.
This week, the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed SB 436, the "Castle Doctrine." This bill removes the "duty to retreat" in the face of attack; it creates the presumption that an attacker or intruder intends to do great bodily harm and therefore force, including deadly force, may be used to protect yourself, your family and others in the face of attack; it prohibits prosecution for defending that which you have a right to defend and prohibits civil lawsuits by criminals or relatives of criminals when criminals are injured or killed while attacking law-abiding people. The bill now moves to the Senate floor. Please contact your Senator and respectfully urge him or her to support this bill.
On February 28, the Senate Judiciary & Rules Committee will hear Senate Bill 1136, a measure that would establish a uniform statewide policy to deal with the issue of firearms that are unclaimed, confiscated, abandoned, or taken into custody via the legal process. Specifically, SB 1136 would require that law enforcement agencies dispose of such firearms by selling them to licensed firearm dealers as a first option rather than allowing the destruction of the property. It is vital that NRA members contact their Senator and urge support for this important measure.
Next week, there could be plenty of action in the Illinois General Assembly. The Senate Judiciary Committee may take up firearm-related legislation, including two anti-gun bills that had been scheduled for this week. The first, SB 219, introduced by Senator Donald Harmon (D-39), seeks to create a criminal offense should a law-abiding gun owner neglect to report the theft of legally owned firearms. The other bill, SB 317, introduced by Senator Mattie Hunter (D-3), is a one-gun-a-month bill that would impose limits on your Constitutionally protected right. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet March 1, at 2:30 p.m. in Room 212 of the State Capitol in Springfield. Please try to attend to voice your opposition to SB 219 and SB 317. If you cannot attend, please call members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and respectfully urge them to oppose these bills. In addition, the House Appropriations-Human Services Committee is also likely to take up anti-gun legislation next week. HB 1060, introduced by Representative Robin Kelly (D-38), seeks to ban certain semi-automatic firearms, and HB 1098, introduced by Representative Elaine Nekritz (D-57), seeks to ban .50 cal. rifles and ammunition. The Human Services Committee is scheduled to meet March 3, at 8:00 a.m. in Room 114 of the State Capitol in Springfield. Please try to attend to voice your opposition to HB 1060 and HB 1098. If you cannot attend, please call members of the House Appropriations-Human Services Committee and respectfully urge them to oppose these bills. For contact information on committee members, please contact our NRA-ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683. On the positive side, Illinois State Rifle Association`s (ISRA) Lobby Day this week was a tremendous success, as an estimated 200+ ISRA and NRA members showed up in Springfield on Tuesday to promote our Right to Keep and Bear Arms. After a briefing on upcoming legislation, pro-gun activists spread throughout the Capitol to meet with their respective lawmakers. That afternoon, the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee passed several pro-gun bills, including HB 936, introduced by Representative Brandon Phelps (D-118), which seeks to preempt municipalities from enacting their own bans on rifles and shotguns, and HB 340, introduced by Representative David Reis (R-108), which would eliminate the waiting period requirement on the transfer of a firearm when an individual is trading an operable firearm for another operable firearm. Thanks to all those activists who showed up for ISRA`s Lobby Day!
HB 1692, introduced by Representative Eric Koch (R-65), will prohibit companies from adopting a policy that prevents an employee from storing his or her firearm in a vehicle on company property. HB 1692 will soon be heard on the House floor, so please contact your Representative as soon as possible and strongly encourage him or her to support this pro-gun reform. Also, when contacting your Representative, be sure to make it clear that a person`s right to self-defense should not be subjected to arbitrary corporate policy.
Please contact your Representatives and respectfully urge them to support HB 2439. HB 2439 seeks to correct the problem of local firearm ordinances, which results in a complex patchwork of restrictions from one jurisdiction to the next. The majority of states have enacted firearm preemption laws that prevent local jurisdictions from imposing ordinances more restrictive than laws passed by the state legislature.
On February 28, two anti-gun bills will be heard in the Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee. Sponsored by Representative Margaret Craven (D-Lewiston), LD 310 would mandate a 10-day waiting period for law-abiding citizens who purchase firearms in Maine. Sponsored by Senator Margaret Rotundo (D-16), LD 344 would amend the current preemption statute by allowing local governments to regulate the possession of firearms on public property. If LD 344 becomes law, this could create a "patchwork quilt" of firearm regulations throughout the state, making compliance impossible for law-abiding citizens. Please contact committee members and urge them to oppose LD 310 and LD 344. We also encourage other active sportsmen`s groups to become involved in this matter. For a list of committee members and their phone numbers please contact NRA-ILA`s Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683.
Next Tuesday, March 1, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will be considering two bills of great importance to gun owners. Senate Bill 424 would repeal the current law requiring that all handguns undergo "ballistic imaging" before they are sold, which has resulted in a reduced number of handguns being shipped into the state for sale. This law has imposed great hardships on both law-abiding gun owners, and Maryland taxpayers, and should be repealed. Please let your Senator know that you strongly support this bill. The Committee will also consider SB 732, the Police Officer Protection Act of 2005. This legislation proposes to make it a crime for failing to report a lost or stolen gun within 48 hours after discovering the loss or theft. Please be sure to tell your lawmakers that they need to crack down on criminals who steal guns, not on law-abiding victims from whom guns are stolen, and urge them to oppose this bill.
Companion bills SB 157, sponsored by Senator Jason Crowell (R-27), and HB 365, sponsored by Representative Brian Munzlinger (R-1), are moving through their respective chambers. SB 157 and HB 365 will allow sheriffs to use money from the "County Sheriff`s Revolving Fund" to cover the costs of processing carry permit applications. If passed, these bills will ensure that, regardless of where you reside in the Show Me State, the permit application process is administered fairly and consistently. Also, pro-gun Representative Mike Dethrow (R-153) has introduced HJR8, a joint resolution requiring that any citizen initiative regarding the harvest of bird, fish, game, or wildlife must be passed by a 2/3 majority of the voters. Passage of this legislation will be a big victory in the effort to prevent animal "rights" extremists from pushing for hunting bans via the citizen`s initiative process. Please contact your Representative and Senator and strongly encourage him or her to co-sponsor this important protection for hunting and conservation.
HB 712, the Hunter/Voter measure that would allow voter registration materials to be made available where hunting and fishing licenses are sold, passed out of the House and is awaiting a hearing in the Senate. Please contact your state Senator and respectfully urge him or her to support HB 712.
This week, the House Government & Urban Affairs Committee approved HB 641, an NRA-backed Right-to-Carry Reform bill which lowers the minimum age for a Concealed Handgun License to 21, gives the Department of Public Safety the authority to enter into reciprocal agreements with certain other states, and makes several other changes to streamline the training and licensing process. The bill now moves to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. Please contact committee members and urge them to support HB 641. For a list of committee members and their phone numbers, please call the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683.
A bill that would drastically expand the state`s current assault weapons ban by redefining what constitutes an "assault weapon" will be heard in the Assembly Codes Committee on March 1. In addition to expanding the ban, A 2466 would require those who currently own any firearm deemed an "assault weapon" to register it, render it permanently inoperable or turn it in to the police. Those who choose to register their firearms would be subject to an additional NICS check and would be required to have the firearm tested for entry in to the state`s ballistic imaging program. Last week, we reported that Senator Eric Schniederman (D-31) introduced S 2445, which also seeks to expand the assault weapons ban by outlawing many more guns by name and adding specific features to the definition of "assault weapon." Please contact your state Assembly member and Senator today and ask him or her to oppose A 2466 and S 2445!
The Columbus City Council led by Safety Committee Chair Michael C. Mentel, is targeting your Second Amendment rights. The City Council will be hosting a session for public comment regarding "assault weapons" and it is vital that NRA members attend this meeting and voice their opposition to any restrictions on their Second Amendment right. Please be sure to spread the word to family, friends, and fellow firearm owners to do the same. Remember, your actions today will determine what rights you will exercise tomorrow! The meeting will be held on March 3, at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 90 West Broad St, Columbus, OH. Please plan on arriving early because speaker slips will only be accepted until 5:00 p.m.
On February 22, the Oklahoma House approved HB 1243, which exempts businesses from liability if a gun stored in a worker`s car is stolen from the vehicle and used to commit a crime. The bill passed by an overwhelming majority of 96-2, and now moves to the Senate for a vote. Please contact your Senator and respectfully urge him or her to support HB 1243.
This week, Senator Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) introduced a slew of anti-gun measures, including SB 927, which bans the manufacture, sale, and transfer of certain semi-automatic firearms (listed by model, maker and characteristics), prohibits the possession of magazines larger than ten rounds, and establishes a state-sponsored permitting scheme for anyone wishing to continue lawfully possessing any firearm on the banned list; SB 942, a measure making it a crime to allow your firearms to be accessible to anyone under 16; SB 954, a bill increasing the fee for fingerprinting a Concealed Handgun License applicant (from $15 to $22) and for transferring a firearm under Oregon`s instant check system (from $10 to $25); and SB 957, legislation which repeals the state firearms preemption law and allows cities and counties to enact a patchwork of restrictions on the possession and carrying of firearms across the state. Please contact your State Senators and urge them to oppose all of these onerous measures. Please visit www.leg.state.or.us/senate for contact information.
This week, the House Law Enforcement Committee approved HB 225, which extends the term of a renewed Concealed Handgun License from 4 to 5 years; HB 318, which establishes confidentiality of records and information on applicants and licensees in Texas` Right-to-Carry law; and HB 322, which reduces CHL fees and lowers the minimum age requirement for a CHL to 18 for military personnel and veterans. We`ll keep you posted as to when the full House will vote on these measures! On February 28, the committee will consider HB 1066 by Representative Glenn Hegar (R-Katy), which allows anyone from another state to apply for a non-resident Texas CHL and amends the state`s reciprocity law to expand the number of states eligible for an agreement with Texas. Please visit www.house.state.tx.us/committees/420 and send an e-mail to committee members urging them to support HB 1066. Also this week, Austin`s Capital Metro Board officially lifted its ban on the possession of handguns by passenger CHLs. They followed similar action taken by the Houston Metro Board last month to finally comply with the provisions of SB 501, the CHL preemption law passed during the last legislative session.
The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on February 26, and the 2005 session proved to be successful for Virginia`s law-abiding firearm owners and sportsmen. The following bills have passed both houses in Richmond, and will soon be on their way to Governor Mark Warner (D). Please contact Governor Warner and encourage him to sign the following pro-gun reforms into law: HB 2282: further protects existing and proposed sport shooting ranges from future local noise standards; HB 2535: allows Right-to-Carry permit holders to carry a concealed handgun on school property while in a motor vehicle; HB 2928: provides due process for carry permit applicants when a denial is based only on written statement from a Sheriff, Chief of Police, or Commonwealth Attorney; HB 2931: eliminates duplicate questions on Virginia State Police firearm transaction form and the federal form 4473; HB 2689: establishes a provision for stationary duck blinds in certain counties on the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers; HB 2683: improves reporting process for gun show promoters. Thanks again to the many pro-Second Amendment members of the General Assembly for their efforts to protect Virginia`s law-abiding gun owners and promoting hunting and sport shooting in the Commonwealth. To see how your Delegate and Senator voted on the above-referenced bills, please visit http://legis.state.va.us. Please be sure to contact Governor Warner and encourage him to sign these important pro-gun measures.
HB 271, the shooting range development and improvement interim study bill sponsored by Representative Becket Hinckley (R-41), is in the Senate awaiting a floor vote. Things in Wyoming move very quickly so please contact your Senator immediately and respectfully urge him or her to approve this measure.