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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 12, No. 13 4/1/2005

CONTINUE YOUR SUPPORT FOR S. 397 AND H.R. 800

As you know, "The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" was introduced this year 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.

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 50 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.

It is imperative that you continue to 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.  Again, please be sure to let them know that you consider any votes in support of anti-gun amendments to this legislation as votes against the 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.  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.

For additional information on effectively communicating with your lawmakers, please see last week`s Grassroots Alert (http://www.nraila.org/CurrentLegislation/ActionAlerts/Default.aspx) (Vol. 12, No. 12).

HUNTING LANDS PROTECTED IN ARKANSAS

After much effort, input, and solid support from NRA-ILA, on Wednesday Governor Mike Huckabee (R) signed SB 1080, the No-Net-Loss of Public Hunting Lands bill. This legislation protects Arkansas` public hunting lands for future generations.

All hunters should thank the bill`s sponsor, Senator Steve Higginbothom (D-16), for his work on this measure.

"This No-Net-Loss legislation guarantees that Arkansas hunters will always have the same amount of public hunting land available," said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox.  "The passage of this bill is part of NRA`s nationwide commitment to safeguarding America`s hunting lands.  Protection of America`s public hunting lands is critical to the continuation and growth of our proud hunting heritage.

"Anti-hunting groups have long fought to dismantle public hunting land in a backdoor effort to eradicate America`s sporting heritage," added Cox. "This law guarantees that the hunters of tomorrow will enjoy the traditions and learn the skills their parents and grandparents mastered in the woods and on the waters of Arkansas."

This year, NRA-ILA actively supported "No-Net-Loss" legislation in several states including Oregon, West Virginia and Georgia. NRA-ILA also supported expanding public hunting and shooting opportunities in Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

"Hunting is a fundamental element of conservation and a vital asset to the economy. Saving this important heritage not only benefits sportsmen and the environment, but business owners as well.

"That`s why NRA will continue to fight for similar hunting protection and conservation measures in all fifty states," concluded Cox.

NEW WEBLOG CREATED FOR
SECOND AMENDMENT SCHOLARSHIP

The legal and academic debate surrounding the Right to Keep and Bear Arms has been waged in journals and law reviews for several decades.  The preponderance of work, of course, has supported the fact that the Second Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights to protect an individual right to bear arms.  A new weblog has been created to provide a reference for that scholarship and a resource for further study.

With a grant of $10,000 from NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund, distinguished legal scholars have created "Of Arms & The Law" (www.armsandthelaw.com).  This site has contributions from David Hardy, Stephen Halbrook, David Kopel, and others.  It includes links to law review articles, studies, and the works of other scholars, such as historian Clayton Cramer, who have written extensively on Second Amendment issues.  It also provides a forum for the regular posting of ideas to further the dialog on these vital issues and provide an exchange of ideas that will increase knowledge and understanding.

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)
Hilton Americas--Houston, Grand Ballrooms A & B
1600 Lamar St., Houston, TX 77010
(713) 651-3900

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/.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED IN HOUSTON!

Once again the NRA is seeking volunteers to help at the 2005 NRA Annual Meetings in Houston.  To a large degree, the success of each year`s Annual Meetings is dependent on the support of our volunteers.  And you can be a part of that successful effort this year!

A number of volunteers are needed to help with set-up on Wednesday and Thursday, April 13- 14, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  During the actual exhibit and meetings Friday through Saturday, volunteers are needed to work in the NRA Store, at our Membership Services area, at the Airgun Range, as well as a number of other venues.

To volunteer or for more information, please visit any of NRA`s web sites or the Annual Meetings site (www.nraam.org), or, contact NRA Field Representative Gayle Carter-Cook at (361) 972-2166, or Dennis Eggers, Central Region Director, at 270-522-0909.  Their respective e-mail addresses are Gcook@nrahq.org,  and Deggers@nrahq.org.

A LOOK AT THE STATES

(****For all of the action items below, you can find contact information for your legislators by using the "Write Your Representatives" tool at www.NRAILA.org****)

COLORADO
The Senate has delayed action on HB 1266 until next week, so there is still time for NRA members to make their voices heard on this important issue!  In its current form, HB 1266 would require all hunters between the ages of 19 and 64 to purchase a Colorado Wildlife Habitat Stamp in addition to their regular hunting license before entering public wildlife areas. It is more important than ever for NRA members to contact their State Senators and ask them to vote AGAINST this habitat stamp requirement for hunters and FOR any amendments that benefit Colorado hunters. Please encourage your friends, family, and fellow sportsmen to contact their State Senators as well. 

CONNECTICUT
Public hearings were held in the Judiciary Committee on several anti-gun bills.  SB 1029 would require a local permit for retail sale of firearms.  SB 1029 is designed to allow localities to prevent federally licensed firearms dealers from engaging in the lawful business of selling rifles and shotguns.  HB 6743 would impose criminal penalties for failure to report the loss or theft of a firearm.  Also on today`s agenda was HB 6657.  In addition to containing components identical to those in SB 1029 and HB 6743, HB 6657 includes provisions that would require registration of sales of all firearms, mandatory trigger locks with sale of all firearms, and would place long guns under the same restrictions as handguns for the purposes of sale or transfer.  This would mean a National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS)  would be required for all transactions, including a transfer from father to son for the purpose of hunting.  Due to the largely anti-gun makeup of the Judiciary Committee, these bills are expected to be approved and sent to the Public Safety Committee.  We`ll keep you posted on further action.  Not heard today, but still pending in the Judiciary Committee, is SB 1133, also known as the State Police bill.  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 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!  Members are urged to contact lawmakers and voice strong opposition to the above mentioned bills. 

FLORIDA
SB 436, the companion bill to Representative Dennis Baxley`s (R-24) HB 249, was approved by the House of Representatives on a second reading yesterday, preparing the way for final passage.  SB 436/HB 249 provides protection from criminal prosecution and civil litigation for those who defend themselves from dangerous criminals. 

ILLINOIS
The Illinois General Assembly will return from break next week, and firearm-related legislation will be in the spotlight.  In the House, pro-gun bills awaiting a vote by the full chamber are: HB 136, which establishes remedies for law-abiding citizens should their application for a FOID card take longer than 30 days; HB 340, which eliminates the waiting period requirement when trading one firearm for another; HB 341, which deals with gun shows, destruction of records on law-abiding gun owners maintained by the Illinois State Police, and statewide preemption of local gun laws (except for in the City of Chicago); HB 478, which would require any local ordinance prohibiting firearms to include an exception for self-defense; HB 716, which clarifies when the waiting period on firearm purchases begins; HB 824, which requires the return of seized firearms when a defendant is found not guilty or charges are dismissed; HB 935, which requires the destruction of records on individuals when a firearm transfer has not been denied; HB 936, which preempts local municipalities from enacting their own restrictions on rifles and shotguns; HB 937 which preempts local municipalities from enacting their own restrictions on firearms used for hunting; HB 2567, which would establish a Right-to-Carry permit system; HB 2568, which preempts local municipalities (except for Chicago) from enacting their own restrictions on rifles and shotguns; and HB 2607, another Right-to-Carry bill.  On the anti-gun side, legislation pending a floor vote in the House includes: HB 794, an attack on gun shows; HB 990, which would create the bureaucratic redundancy of requiring all FFL holders to also be licensed as a firearm dealer by the state; HB 1098, which seeks to ban .50 cal. rifles and ammunition; HB 1349, a so-called "smart gun" bill; HB 2414, which seeks to ban certain semi-automatic firearms; and HB 3849, which seeks to allow for reckless lawsuits against gun dealers. In the Senate, pro-gun legislation includes: SB 56 and SB 57, each of which are similar to HB 341; SB 2103, a range protection bill; and SB 2104, which seeks to eliminate restrictions on transporting firearms imposed by municipalities. On the anti-gun side, there is SB 546, an attack on gun shows. Of course, other threats could emerge, so please be sure to contact your lawmakers and urge them to support our Right to Keep and Bear Arms by supporting the pro-gun bills mentioned above, and opposing bills that attack our freedom.

KANSAS
Thanks to your calls, the NRA-backed preemption bill, SB 195, passed out of the House with 107 votes.  The bill now goes to the Senate for concurrence as early as today.  This legislation will eliminate the unfair patchwork of local firearm ordinances across Kansas, while protecting law-abiding citizens from fines and prosecution under the current system.  Please continue to contact your State Senator and respectfully urge him or her to support this bill as amended by the House. 

MONTANA
HB 693, by Representative Jack Wells (R-69), a measure that would strengthen the rights of law-abiding Montanans to protect themselves and their families, as well as prevent employers from prohibiting their employees from keeping a firearm in their vehicle parked in the workplace, could come up for a vote in the full Senate as early as Monday, April 4.  It is vital that you contact your State Senator TODAY and ask for his or her full support of HB 693 when it comes before them for a vote. 

NEBRASKA
LB 454, also known as the "Concealed Handgun Permit Act," has been voted out of the Judiciary Committee .   Please contact your Senator and urge him or her to support a cloture vote on this important legislation.  Your phone call can help make Right-to-Carry a reality in the Cornhusker State! 

NEVADA
AB 232, by Assemblyman Richard Perkins (D-23, Clark County), an NRA-supported bill that clarifies the Nevada Revised Statutes regarding the definition of concealed carry, is currently sitting in the Assembly Judiciary Committee awaiting a vote.  Please contact the members of the committee and ask that they give this bill their full support when it comes before them.

TEXAS
This week, the Senate approved SB 734, by Senator Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands), an NRA-backed bill which allows hunting to continue on private land, even if the land is annexed by a city which has a ban on the discharge of firearms.  The Senate rejected an amendment that would have allowed cities to ban the possession of assault weapons by a 19-8 vote.  HB 1364, by Representative Anna Mowery (R-Fort Worth), the House companion bill to SB 734, will be considered by the full House on April 11.  Please call your State Representatives and urge them to sign on as co-authors to HB 1364, and to support the bill on the House floor. Also this week, the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee reported out HB 823, by Representative Terry Keel (R-Austin), an NRA-supported bill which takes significant steps toward allowing law-abiding citizens to carry handguns in their vehicles for protection without a Concealed Handgun License.  The bill has not yet been scheduled for House floor action. Please call your State Representatives and urge them to support HB 823. 

VIRGINIA
Following passage by Virginia`s General Assembly, Governor Mark Warner (D) recently signed numerous pro-gun bills that will further protect the Commonwealth`s law-abiding gun owners and sportsmen. Thanks to our many allies in the General Assembly, the following bills will take affect July 1, 2005:  HB 2535, by Delegate Riley Ingram (R-62), allows Right-to-Carry permit holders to possess a concealed handgun in their vehicle on school property, provided they remain in their vehicle and the handgun remains concealed at all times; HB 2282, by Delegate Bill Janis (R-56), increases protection of existing shooting ranges by prohibiting localities from subjecting ranges to noise standards not in effect when the range was constructed or when a range construction permit was applied for; HB 2828, by Delegate Tommy Wright (R-61), this new measure requires that when a Right-to-Carry permit denial is based only on a written statement from a sheriff, chief local law enforcement officer, or Commonwealth Attorney, the applicant shall receive due process and the Court must base the denial upon a preponderance of evidence; HB 2931, by Delegate Bob McDonnell (R-84), reduces the amount of information that firearm purchasers must provide on the Virginia State Police transaction form by eliminating duplicate questions that also appear on the federal form; HB 2683, by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31), streamlines reporting for gun show promoters; HB 2689, by Delegate Albert Pollard (D-99), allows for floating duck blinds on portions of the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers where previously they were prohibited, bringing these areas into accord with the rest of the state.  Again, please contact Governor Warner at (804) 786-2211 and thank him for his strong support for the Second Amendment.  Also, please be sure to contact the bill patrons above and thank them for standing in defense of freedom! 

WISCONSIN
NRA-ILA is looking for volunteers to attend the Conservation Congress on April 11, and speak on behalf of three issues on the ballot that are of critical concern to hunters.  Even if you don`t want to volunteer, please attend the congress and vote on these issues on Monday, April 11, at 7:00 p.m.  Questions 47, 67, and 68 would support lowering  the hunting age from 12 to 10 and permit mentored youth hunting.  Statistics have shown that this is a safe option in all 30 states that have similar laws.  For a list of meeting locations please visit http://www.nraila.org/CurrentLegislation/Read.aspx?ID=1483.  If you would like to volunteer, please call our Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683.

NRA ILA

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.