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09/07 False Hopes Of Relief For Gun Owners In The Senate

As Senate Reconvenes... Veterans Disarmament Bill Offers False Hopes Of Relief For Gun Owners

Gun Owners of America
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Springfield, VA 22151
(703)321-8585

"I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past." -- Patrick Henry, in his "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech of March 23, 1775

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Patrick Henry had it right. Forget the past, and you're destined to make the same mistakes in the future.

Gun control has been an absolute failure. Whether it's a total gun ban or mere background checks, gun control has FAILED to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

But gun control fanatics still want to redouble their efforts, even when their endeavors have not worked. Congress is full of fanatics who want to expand the failed Brady Law to such an extent that millions of law-abiding citizens will no longer be able to own or buy guns.

For months, GOA has been warning gun owners about the McCarthy-Leahy bill -- named after Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). These anti-gun legislators have teamed up to introduce a bill that will expand the 1993 Brady Law and disarm hundreds of thousands of combat veterans -- and other Americans. (While McCarthy and Leahy are this year's primary sponsors, the notorious Senator Chuck Schumer of New York was a sponsor of this legislation in years past.)

Proponents of the bill tell us that it will bring relief for many gun owners. But to swallow this, one must first ignore the fact that gun owners would NOT NEED RELIEF in the first place if some gun owners (and gun groups) had not thrown their support behind the Brady bill that passed in 1993 and were not pushing the Veterans Disarmament Bill now.

Law-abiding Americans need relief because we were sold a bill of goods in 1993. The Brady Law has allowed government bureaucrats to screen law-abiding citizens before they exercise their constitutionally protected rights -- and that has opened the door to all kinds of abuses.

The McCarthy-Leahy bill will open the door to many more abuses. After all, do we really think that notorious anti-gunners like McCarthy and Leahy had the best interests of gun owners in mind when they introduced this Veterans Disarmament Bill? The question answers itself.

TRADE-OFF TO HURT GUN OWNERS

Proponents want us to think this measure will benefit many gun owners. But what sort of trade off is it to create potentially millions of new prohibited persons -- under this legislation -- and then tell them that they need to spend thousands of dollars to regain the rights THAT WERE NOT THREATENED before this bill was passed?

Do you see the irony? Gun control gets passed. The laws don't stop criminals from getting guns, but they invariably affect law-abiding folks. So instead of repealing the dumb laws, the fanatics argue that we need even more gun control (like the Veterans Disarmament Bill) to fix the problem!!!

So more people lose their rights, even while they're promised a very limited recourse for restoring those rights -- rights which they never would lose, save for the McCarthy-Leahy bill.

The legislation threatens to disqualify millions of new gun owners who are not a threat to society. If this bill is signed into law:

  • As many as a quarter to a third of returning Iraq veterans could be prohibited from owning firearms -- based solely on a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • Your ailing grandfather could have his entire gun collection seized, based only on a diagnosis of Alzheimer's (and there goes the family inheritance);
  • Your kid could be permanently banned from owning a gun, based on a diagnosis under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Patrick Henry said he knew of "no way of judging of the future but by the past." The past has taught us that gun control fanatics and bureaucrats are continually looking for loopholes in the law to deny guns to as many people as possible.

GUN CONTROL'S ABOMINABLE RECORD

A government report in 1996 found that the Brady Law had prevented a significant number of Americans from buying guns because of outstanding traffic tickets and errors. The General Accounting Office said that more than 50% of denials under the Brady Law were for administrative snafus, traffic violations, or reasons other than felony convictions.

Press reports over the years have also shown gun owners inconvenienced by NICS computer system crashes -- especially when those crashes happen on the weekends (affecting gun shows).

Right now, gun owners in Pennsylvania are justifiably up in arms because the police scheduled a routine maintenance (and shut-down) of their state computer system on the opening days of hunting season this year. The shut-down, by the way, has taken three days -- which is illegal.

And then there's the BATFE’s dastardly conduct in the state of Wyoming. The anti-gun agency took the state to court after legislators figured out a way to restore people's ability to buy firearms -- people who had been disarmed by the Lautenberg gun ban of 1996.

Gun Owners Foundation has been involved in this Wyoming case, and has seen up close how the BATFE has TOTALLY DISREGARDED a Supreme Court opinion which allows this state to do what they did. In Caron v. United States (1998), the U.S. Supreme Court said that any conviction which has been set aside or expunged at the state level "shall not be considered a conviction," under federal law, for the purposes of owning or buying guns. But the BATFE has ignored this Court ruling, and is bent on preventing states like Wyoming from restoring people's gun rights.

Not surprisingly, the BATFE has issued new 4473s which ASSUME the McCarthy-Leahy bill has already passed. The bill has not even been enacted into law yet, and the BATFE is already using the provisions of that bill to keep more people from buying guns.

The new language on the 4473 form asks:

Have you ever been adjudicated mentally defective (which includes a determination by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority that you are a danger to yourself or to others or are incompetent to manage your own affairs)....

Notice the words "determination" and "other lawful authority." Relying on a DETERMINATION is broader than just relying on a court "ruling," and the words OTHER LAWFUL AUTHORITY are not limited to judges. In other words, the definition above would allow a VA psychologist or a school shrink to take away your gun rights.

This is what McCarthy and Leahy are trying to accomplish, but the BATFE has now been emboldened to go ahead and do it anyway. This means that military vets could potentially commit a felony by buying a gun WITHOUT disclosing that they have Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome because a "lawful authority" has decreed that they are a potential danger to themselves or others.

No wonder the Military Order of the Purple Heart is opposed to the McCarthy-Leahy bill. On June 18 of this year, the group stated, "For the first time the legislation, if enacted, would statutorily impose a lifetime gun ban on battle-scarred veterans."

MORE RESTRICTIONS, NOT RELIEF

Supporters, like the NRA, say that they were able to win compromises from the Dark Side -- compromises that will benefit gun owners. Does the bill really make it easier to get your gun rights restored -- even after spending lots of time and money in court? Well, that's VERY debatable, and GOA has grappled this question in a very lengthy piece entitled, Point-by-Point Response to Proponents of HR 2640.

In brief, the McClure-Volkmer of 1986 created a path for restoring the Second Amendment rights of prohibited persons. But given that Chuck Schumer has successfully pushed appropriations language which has defunded this procedure since the 1990s (without significant opposition), it is certainly not too difficult for some anti-gun congressman like Schumer to bar the funding of any new procedure for relief that follows from the McCarthy-Leahy bill.

Incidentally, even before Schumer blocked the procedure, the ability to get "relief from disabilities" under section 925(c) was always an expensive long shot. Presumably, the new procedures in the Veterans Disarmament Act will be the same.

Isn't that always the record from Washington? You compromise with the devil and then get lots of bad, but very little good. Look at the immigration debate. Compromises over the last two decades have provided amnesty for illegal aliens, while promising border security. The country got lots of the former, but very little of the latter.

If the Veterans Disarmament Bill passes, don't hold your breath waiting for the promised relief.

ACTION: Please use the letter below to contact your Senator. You can use the pre-written message below and send it as an e-mail by visiting the GOA Legislative Action Center (where phone and fax numbers are also available).

----- Pre-written letter -----

Dear Senator:

While the NRA does some good work in the areas of shooting competitions, firearms training, etc., THEY DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME when they support the so-called School Safety Act, sponsored by Patrick Leahy in the Senate and Carolyn McCarthy in the House (HR 2640).

Gun owners don't support this legislation, better known as the Veterans Disarmament Act. The Military Order of the Purple Heart is opposed to it, having stated on June 18 of this year, that "For the first time the legislation, if enacted, would statutorily impose a lifetime gun ban on battle-scarred veterans." Gun owners don't want to expand the Brady Instant Check, we want to repeal it. It is simply un-American to penalize individuals (like veterans) with no due process by assuming they are guilty until proven innocent.

Anti-gun zealots are always looking to expand the number of citizens who are prohibited from exercising their Second Amendment rights. I don't believe that this bill will provide the relief that supporters are promising.

After all, the McClure-Volkmer of 1986 created a path for restoring the Second Amendment rights of prohibited persons. But given that Chuck Schumer has successfully pushed appropriations language which has defunded this procedure since the 1990s (without significant opposition), it is certainly not too difficult for some anti-gun congressman like Schumer to bar the funding of any new procedure for relief that follows from the McCarthy-Leahy bill.

The Leahy bill is gun control, pure and simple, and voting for it tells me you don't care about a little thing known as the Constitution.

Sincerely,