WITH LAWMAKERS ON S. 397/H.R. 800
As you know, "The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" was recently introduced as S. 397 in the U.S. Senate, and H.R. 800 in the U.S. House. This critically important, NRA-backed legislation would protect law-abiding firearm manufacturers from reckless, predatory, and potentially bankrupting lawsuits.
With efforts to pass this legislation in full swing, below are some tips to ensure your communications with your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators produce the desired effect.
Ask any elected official which individual`s concerns are most important to him or her, and chances are he or she all will deliver the same response: "constituents`." All politicians are keenly aware that it is their constituents who hold the key to their political futures. Therefore, constituent concerns are of the utmost concern to politicians. The best way you can affect the outcome of legislation is to directly communicate your views to your own elected lawmakers. Again, always identify yourself as a constituent when contacting your elected officials.
NRA-ILA`s website -- www.NRAILA.org-- has a wealth of information to assist you when contacting your lawmakers, including our "Stop Reckless Lawsuits Against the Firearm Industry" section that will allow you to identify and send an e-mail or letter directly to your elected officials in Washington concerning S. 397/ H.R. 800. Remember to inform your lawmakers that you consider any votes for any anti-gun amendments to this legislation as a vote against the bills themselves!
LETTERS: As a constituent, a letter is an easy way for you to inform your lawmakers of your views on S. 397/H.R. 800, encourage them to vote in favor of these bills without anti-gun amendments, and let them know you`ll keep their votes in mind on Election Day! Keep your letter brief (one page, one issue), with just enough facts and figures to bolster your position. Never make a statement you can`t back up with evidence. Let your lawmakers know how predatory lawsuits against the gun industry affect you and other constituents personally. If you own a business, use your company letterhead. If you`re a member of the PTA or other civic group, don`t hesitate to mention that. Finally, always ask for a response to your letter. You`ll want a hard copy of your legislators` positions on these issues for future reference and for documentation. Always send copies of any responses you receive to NRA-ILA`s Grassroots Division.
E-MAIL: Virtually all congressional offices allow for constituent e-mail. Tips for transmitting an effective e-mail message are similar to writing a letter, though this format is usually less formal and allows you to be a bit more brief in your message. A major advantage of e-mail versus a personally-written letter is the speed in which your message will be received. Be prepared for some lawmakers to "respond" to your e-mail message with a canned message that may not specifically address your concern. Whether you receive a direct response to your message or not, be sure that you request your lawmaker`s position in writing so you can document his or her position easily. Forward this response to ILA Grassroots for our information and records.
PHONE CALLS: You will often find that, as bills move through the legislative process, there simply isn`t enough time to write your legislators prior to a key vote. When you need to get in touch with your lawmakers immediately to let them know of your position on gun-related issues (and especially if you don`t have e-mail), your phone calls become the most effective means for you to communicate your views. Since you usually will not be speaking directly to your elected official, be sure to ask to speak to the staffer who handles firearm-related issues. Contact with congressional staff is critical to the process, as staff has major input with lawmakers and expertise on most issues on which legislators will vote, including gun-related issues.
FAXING: Faxing allows you to quickly send a full, letter-length message to your representatives for just the cost of a phone call. When preparing a fax message to a lawmaker, follow the same basic guidelines as when mailing a letter via U.S. Mail. Include your fax number so your legislator can respond to you via fax.
PERSONAL MEETINGS: By far the most effective, and the most difficult, method to communicate with your lawmakers is at a personal meeting. Be sure to schedule your meeting in advance (usually in a home district, not Washington, D.C., office). If the lawmaker isn`t personally available, schedule a meeting with the staff member responsible for firearm issues. Try to limit attendees at your meeting to five to ensure the meeting flows smoothly and doesn`t get bogged down. Use ILA`s website or contact the Grassroots Division to procure materials to leave behind with the lawmaker/staff member for his or her reference. Bring enough copies for everyone who attends the meeting, plus copies for the lawmaker if he or she can`t attend. Regardless of how your meeting goes, send a letter to your legislator or staff person thanking him or her for his or her time, and reiterating the points you discussed. This gesture will go a long way, and possibly allow for future meetings.
TOWN HALL MEETINGS: Lawmakers often host town hall meetings in their districts--especially during congressional district work breaks--to tout their achievements and solicit feedback from their constituents. These meetings afford a prime opportunity for you to ask your lawmakers to state their position on S. 397/H.R. 800 for the record in an open and public forum. Contact your lawmakers and ask to be put on the invitation list for the lawmaker`s town hall meetings. If they do not have a complete list, ask for information on the next meeting. When you receive word that a town hall meeting is scheduled, be sure to make plans to attend, and share this information with the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division so we may alert your fellow NRA members and encourage them to attend as well. Ask your question clearly, and as simply as possible, e.g., "What is your position on S. 397/H.R. 800--legislation to halt lawsuits against the firearm industry?" Whether you had the opportunity to ask your question at the meeting or not, follow up with a letter to your lawmaker. Ask your question in your letter if you didn`t have an opportunity to do so at the meeting, or address his response to any firearm-related questions other constituents may have asked. This letter will ensure your lawmakers take you and your views seriously, and will allow you to obtain a written response addressing your concerns that you should also share with ILA Grassroots.
By utilizing these strategies when contacting your lawmakers in support of S. 397/H.R. 800 without any anti-gun amendments, and sharing this information with your family, friends, and fellow firearm owners so they may do the same, our voices in the legislative process will be greatly amplified. And once and for all, we can transform this legislative proposal into statutory reality!
As always, if you need more information, please contact ILA`s Grassroots Division or visit www.NRAILA.org.
APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS SOROS CONVICTION AND FINE
On March 24, a French Appeals Court upheld a conviction for insider trading against billionaire anti-gunner and anti-Bush zealot George Soros. The court additionally upheld a fine of 2.2 million euros (approximately $2.9 million at current rates) stemming from Soros` 2002 conviction on the same charge. The three-judge panel was deciding whether to overturn, modify, or uphold his original conviction and fine.
Contrary to his November 2002 testimony where he stated, "I have been in business all my life, and I think I know what is insider trading and what isn`t," at an appeals hearing last month, Soros acknowledged hearing about a Paris financier`s plans to take over a newly privatized French bank days before he began buying its shares independently.
NRA`s 2005 ANNUAL MEETINGS AND EXHIBITS
This year`s Annual Meetings and Exhibits will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, from April 15-17, 2005.
In conjunction with our showcase event, the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division will host a FREE Grassroots Workshop. This Workshop has been a regular part of NRA`s Annual Meetings for more than a decade.
With our victories in the 2004 elections, we must now work to ensure that our electoral successes last year are transformed into legislative victories this year. Among our pro-freedom legislative priorities are: ending reckless lawsuits against the gun industry, repealing the D.C. gun ban, lifting restrictions on law-abiding gun owners, and much more. And of course, we must remain eternally vigilant in beating back assaults on our freedom, as the anti-gunners are still pushing legislation to ban guns and ammunition, to shut down gun shows, and to further whittle away our Second Amendment rights. Your attendance at this year`s NRA-ILA Grassroots Workshop in Houston is an important step toward ensuring the future of our gun rights.
At this FREE Workshop, NRA-ILA staff and NRA Officers will discuss how you can take on an even more active role in your community in our mutual fight to advance and protect our cherished freedoms, and we will provide you with the materials and strategies you will need to educate and empower your fellow gun owners as well.
Workshop details are:
Friday, April 15, 2005, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 Noon
(Registration and free continental breakfast from 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. in Grand Ballroom Pre-function)
Grand Ballrooms A & B
1600 Lamar St., Houston, TX 77010
Please encourage your family, friends and fellow firearm owners to attend as well.
To register for the Workshop, call the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683, or on-line at: www.nraila.org/workshops/.
A LOOK AT THE STATES
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-1 in favor of HB 2325. This legislation, in its current form, expands the term of a carry permit from four years to five, reduces the mandatory training required of initial permit applicants from 16 hours to eight, and makes other significant improvements to the law. Please contact your State Senator and request that he or she support HB 2325 when it reaches the Senate Floor in the coming days. The House Judiciary Committee voted 6-3 in favor of SB 1363, legislation making Arizona one of over 30 states that currently allow law-abiding citizens to carry their self-defense firearms in restaurants and other establishments that sell alcohol. In addition to providing for self-defense, SB 1363 helps to ensure that firearms are not stolen from vehicles parked outside of these establishments by allowing citizens to maintain custody of their firearms while dining. It is critical that you contact your two State Representatives and ask them to support SB 1363 on the House Floor.
SB 1133, also known as the State Police bill, is currently pending in the Judiciary Committee and could have a public hearing as early as next week. Before sending SB 1133 to the Judiciary Committee, members of the Public Safety Committee approved substitute language which stripped out many of the bill`s original provisions, including a ban on private sales and transfers, a ban on youth hunting, and registration. But the bill still contains one provision that could make it the most dangerous legislation gun owners and sportsmen have ever faced! SB 1133 would make it a felony for anyone who has been denied a pistol permit or certificate of eligibility (COE), one of which is necessary in Connecticut to purchase a handgun, to possess ANY firearm! The bill would require that those individuals who are denied a permit or COE be reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) as a "person prohibited" from purchasing and possessing firearms. Since "suitability" is a factor considered by the issuing authority in Connecticut, this means that a local police chief could arbitrarily deny an individual a pistol permit or COE without justification, causing the applicant to lose his or her gun rights forever! SB 1133 has the potential to be amended in the Judiciary Committee and used as a vehicle for the failed .50 caliber ban or any other anti-gun elements the gun grabbers want to throw in. Thus far, Governor Jodi Rell (R) has ignored your calls of opposition to SB 1133, and has shown no interest in protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners and sportsmen. Since the State Police are an agency of the Rell Administration, the Governor has the ability and obligation to stop the abuse of power that SB 1133 represents. Please call Governor Rell at (800) 406-1527 and your state lawmakers TODAY to voice your strong opposition to SB 1133.
HB 2439, recently renamed SB 195, will eliminate the unfair patchwork of local firearm ordinances across Kansas while protecting law-abiding citizens from fines and prosecution under the current system. This legislation will be heard before the House and concurred in the Senate as early as this week. Please contact your State Representatives and Senator and respectfully urge them to support this bill "without" anti-gun amendments.
SB 142 was passed by the Senate and House in the final days of the session. This legislation made improvements to the carry law and enacted provisions that provide for the implementation of H.R. 218, federal legislation allowing qualified active and retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms nationwide. The Kentucky State Police are currently experiencing a backlog of carry permit renewal applications. SB 142 allows a permit holder whose permit has expired to continue to carry a concealed firearm with the expired permit as long as the permit holder also has a receipt showing payment for renewal.
Make Right-to-Carry a reality in the Cornhusker State! LB 454, also known as the "Concealed Handgun Permit Act," will be voted out of the Judiciary Committee soon. LB 454 faces a tough fight on the floor. Please contact your Senator and urge him or her to support this important legislation.
Late last Friday, the Legislature gave final approval to HB 641, the NRA-backed Right-to-Carry Reform Bill sponsored by Representative John Heaton (D-Carlsbad) and Senator Shannon Robinson (D-Albuquerque). HB 641 lowers the minimum age requirement for a Concealed Handgun License from 25 to 21, extends the term of a license from two to four years, gives DPS the authority to enter into reciprocal agreements with other states, and makes other improvements to the law. HB 641 has been sent to Governor Bill Richardson (D) for his expected signature. Thank you for your calls and e-mails in support of HB 641 this session--they made the difference!
As expected, State Senator Eric Schneiderman (D-Manhattan) has filed a motion to discharge his bill seeking to expand the state`s current ban on "assault weapons" from the Senate Codes Committee. S 2445 would outlaw many more guns by name and would add specific features to the definition of what constitutes an illegal "assault weapon." It is important to contact your state senator today, and urge him or her to oppose S 2445 and Senator Schneiderman`s motion to discharge!
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-1 to approve SB 1901, legislation making Tennessee one of over 30 states that currently allow handgun permit holders to carry their self-defense firearms in restaurants and other establishments that sell alcohol. The full Senate moved quickly to pass the bill by an overwhelming vote of 29-3. The companion House bill is HB 2225. It is critical that you contact your State Representative and ask that he or she support HB 2225.
This week, the Texas House of Representatives approved the following NRA-backed measures: HB 225 by Representative Joe Driver (R-Garland), which extends the term of a renewed Concealed Handgun License from four to five years; HB 322 by Representative Suzanna Hupp (R-Lampasas), which lowers the minimum age requirement for a CHL from 21 to 18, as well as CHL application fees for military personnel and veterans; HB 685 by Representative Patrick Rose (D-Dripping Springs), which exempts military personnel with recent service-related handgun training from the range instruction portion of the CHL course; and HB 1066 by Representative Glenn Hegar (R-Katy), which expands the number of states which could qualify for CHL reciprocity with Texas. All these bills now move to the Senate for committee referral and consideration. Please contact your State Senators and urge them to support these measures. Also, the House Law Enforcement Committee reported out the following NRA-supported bills this week: HB 896 by Representative David Farabee (D-Wichita Falls), will prohibit employers from enforcing "No Firearms" policies against CHLs who keep a handgun in their vehicle at work if the employer does not provide a secure parking area for employees; HB 1038 by Representative Carl Isett (R-Lubbock), which now contains an across-the- board reduction on CHL application fees, in addition to a reductions on renewal fees for senior citizens; and HB 1483 by Representative Stephen Frost (D-Atlanta), which requires DPS to accept personal checks and credit card payments for CHL application fees and lowers fees for replacement or duplicate licenses. Please begin contacting your State Representatives and urge them to support these bills. Additionally, next Tuesday, March 29, the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee will consider HB 823 by Representative Terry Keel (R-Austin), which would allow law-abiding citizens to carry a handgun in their car for protection without a CHL. The committee will meet at 2:00 p.m. (or upon House adjournment) in Room E2.016 of the Capitol Extension in Austin. Please contact committee members and urge them to support HB 823. Lastly, please join NRA Director Susan Howard and the Uvalde County Republican Committee for a day of shooting, barbecue, and remarks by Mrs. Howard on Saturday, April 30, at Spanish Dagger (Hunting Lodge-3 miles East of Uvalde Hwy. 90). Shooting begins at 2:30 p.m., and Mrs. Howard will speak at 5:00 p.m. Cost of BBQ Plate is $10.00 adults/$5.00 children. For more information, please contact Leland Kerby, Chairman of the Uvalde County Republican Party at (830) 278-1807 or Spanish Dagger Manager, Alan Phillips, at (830) 278-2998.
This week Orion Sporting defeated the latest attempt by Nelson County to restrict lawful hunting and shooting. Nelson County sought an injunction against Orion to prevent them from allowing sporting clays shoots prior to scheduled hunts. The shoots were scheduled in order to give guests an opportunity to practice and receive instruction so that they become safer and better hunters. This is the latest chapter in the long story of Nelson County attempting to exceed its authority in regulating hunting and shooting.
HB 3159, introduced by Delegate William Stemple (D-33), will allow Sunday hunting on publicly owned lands in West Virginia. Currently 39 states have no restrictions on Sunday hunting. HB 3159 does not change current regulations regarding Sunday hunting on private lands. The prohibition on Sunday hunting is one of the last vestiges of the blue laws that restricted many activities on Sunday. Currently, hunters are treated as second-class citizens in West Virginia, because their activity is restricted while other outdoor pursuits, including fishing, is permitted on Sundays. Call your Delegate and Senator today and urge them to support HB 3159! For more information on Sunday hunting, please see our fact sheet at www.NRAILA.org.
AB 56, legislation that will put an end to reckless lawsuits against gun manufacturers, dealers, and clubs, attempting to hold them liable for the acts of criminals, will soon be voted on by the House Judiciary Committee. Please contact your State Representative and request that he or she support this critically important legislation.