Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Well, it's been a pretty good year so far.
GOA-supported legislation has passed in several state legislatures, and in many cases, the final vote tallies have been overwhelmingly pro-gun.
Good bills that have now become law would allow gun owners to "Stand their Ground" when attacked, to carry concealed firearms in their home state, and to be free from the fear of gun confiscation during a state of emergency.
The last of these the "emergency powers" reform bills -- have been introduced at both the federal and state levels.
You may recall that during the post-Hurricane Katrina debacle, video documentation surfaced showing that officials were disarming law-abiding gun owners who were doing nothing more than keeping their self-defense firearms available to protect their property and loved ones. (You can view this disgusting footage at http://www.gunowners.org/notb.htm.)
Gun owner outrage led the courts in Louisiana to insist that the practice cease, after the fact. But to keep it from happening again, officials need to be specifically prohibited from even TRYING it. Most states have "emergency powers" laws, and THAT is the hook anti-gun officials use to take away your guns just when you need them most.
This year, one of GOA's highest priorities at the state level is to address the problems with so-called "emergency powers" across the country. GOA-supported bills that will make it absolutely certain that no state official could disarm the citizenry during an emergency are currently pending in several states.
It all started when GOA supplied video footage to Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, after he had received reports of disarmament. The video was shown in conference during a Special Session of the legislature dealing with Katrina fallout, and the result was a 78-1 vote REQUIRING the legislature to decide on GOA-approved legislation during Louisiana's normal session later this spring.
Meanwhile, the national movement is growing steadily. Emergency Powers bills have been introduced in a dozen states ... with several bills being introduced by legislators who are GOA members. Idaho, Virginia and Mississippi have already signed their bills into law. And six other states have passed bills out of the house or senate.
In the nation's capital, two congressmen have introduced federal versions of the "emergency powers" reform bills. In the House, Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) has introduced H.R. 5013 to prohibit the confiscation of firearms by any federal employee.
Likewise, pro-gun Senator David Vitter (R-LA) has sponsored S. 2599 to do the same thing. GOA will be watching these two bills for you and will keep you up-to-date on their progress.
GOA has been tracking other federal bills for you this year, but unfortunately, the progress report is not as good:
* FREE SPEECH RESTRICTIONS. On April 5, the House of Representatives narrowly passed HR 513 -- a bill that will regulate "527 organizations" like the Swift Boat Veterans as severely as the most heavily regulated political groups in the country. If enacted, HR 513 could effectively eliminate organizations like the Swift Boat Veterans. The final tally in the House was 218-209. The bill is now in the Senate.
* FREE SPEECH PROTECTIONS. In March, GOA alerted you to legislation that was introduced by Texas Congressmen Jeb Hensarling and Ron Paul. Their bill (HR 1606) was good legislation to exempt the Internet from regulation under federal "electioneering" laws. The House probably had the votes to pass this bill, but it was yanked at the last minute.
When the Federal Election Commission issued favorable regulations last month, House leaders decided that HR 1606 was no longer necessary. This was unfortunate, because a future anti-rights administration could one day reverse the recent FEC ruling and decide to gag bloggers and internet users in such a way that they will be unable to criticize candidates in the days leading up to an election. So, while we're in the clear for now, we'll have to keep watching this issue closely.
* McCAIN'S GAG ACT. GOA has also alerted you to harmful legislation introduced by Senator John McCain (R-AZ). McCain's bill (S. 2128) is dead, but in typical shell-game fashion, one has to always keep his eye on the "ball." The "ball" in this case is the bill's contents.
The troublesome provisions from McCain's legislation were included in another bill (S. 2349) which passed the Senate in March. The language does several things to limit the free speech rights of Americans who want to lobby their legislators, and it eliminates some of the legislative weapons that U.S. Senators have used in recent years to kill anti-gun bills or to get pro-gun provisions enacted into law.
S. 2349 passed with very few dissenting votes. In fact, the only pro-gun Senators who voted AGAINST the bill were Oklahoma Senators Tom Coburn and James Inhofe, and South Carolina Senators Lindsey Graham and James DeMint. All other normally pro-gun senators voted in favor of this troublesome bill.
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