(Tuesday, December 9, 2003) -- As you read that quote above, you should pat yourself on the back. You are the reason the gun control education bill stalled in the Congress this year.
The above quote comes from The Hill, which is a Washington, DC newspaper covering Congress and politics. A recent article was devoted to what seemed to The Hill as a surprising story: Gun Owners of America has stalled an education bill in the House that passed the Senate 90-0.
To quote from The Hill:
Before the group's lobbying effort, the bill was sailing through Congress. It has attracted more than 200 co-sponsors in the House and is supported by President Bush.
But the bill hit a major bump in the road. That "bump" was the members of Gun Owners of America. The outpouring of opposition from folks like yourself was so overwhelming that aides on Capitol Hill now "blame" GOA for blocking Wicker's bill from moving forward this year.
Rep. Wicker himself admitted that he was "shocked by the influence that Gun Owners of America has had on his bill" because it had faced such little opposition in the Senate.
At GOA, we realize how easy it is to just focus on the bad news. Certainly we had our share of it this year. Both houses of Congress voted to reauthorize the plastic gun ban WITHOUT A RECORDED VOTE and to send the bill to President Bush in late November.
The President announced he would sign a bill to reauthorize the semi-auto gun ban in April, and the Supreme Court has consistently refused to grant relief to individuals that are victimized by anti-gun laws.
Yes, there has been bad news. But there has been a lot of good news as well, and you folks have been an instrumental reason. Please take a look at a brief review of some of the highlights that we have achieved together this year.
GOA activists began asking the Congress to close the airplane pilot loophole and to authorize cargo pilots to carry firearms. Congress did pass legislation last year allowing commercial pilots to carry firearms in the cockpit, but the law contained a gaping loophole that future terrorists could fly through. By not allowing cargo pilots to arm themselves -- similar to commercial pilots -- future terrorists could easily commandeer a cargo plane and inflict just as much damage as we saw on 9-11.
In a stunning victory, the GOA-backed legislation received final approval in the waning hours of Congress as part of an FAA Security package.
President Bush surprised many gun owners when he announced his support for keeping the Clinton-Feinstein gun ban on the books. GOA immediately called its e-mail activists into action, resulting in thousands of gun owners contacting the President to protest his support for the ban.
In the first 24 hours alone, Gun Owners generated more than 10,000 contacts to the White House, prompting Senior White House official Carl Rove to admit that he's received a "tremendous amount of e-mail" on this issue.
Subsequent lobbying in the House of Representatives has met with positive results as Majority Leader Tom DeLay said that "the votes aren't there" to pass the gun ban and that a bill to reauthorize the ban will not come to the House floor.
Perhaps the most significant victory this year occurred in Alaska, where the state enacted a statute allowing its citizens to carry concealed firearms -- without first getting permits.
Gun Owners of America mobilized its members on two occasions during the bill's journey toward becoming law -- a law which is modeled somewhat after Vermont's.
No fees. No waiting periods. No invasive background checks. No requirement to be screened or fingerprinted like common sex offenders. Citizens can now carry freely in most places in Alaska without first getting a state-issued permit.
Gun Owners of America began to mobilize its e-mail activists against a dangerous education bill (H.R. 1078) that was on a "fast track" to George Bush's desk. The chief sponsor of the bill is Rep. Roger Wicker (R-MS).
Six cosponsors pulled their names from Wicker's education bill after GOA alerted them to the dangers the bill poses for American gun rights.
An aide to one of the cosponsors, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), told The Hill newspaper that "the concerns raised by Gun Owners of America played a major role in the lawmaker's decision to withdraw his name as a cosponsor" of the bill.
At one time, the bill was being rushed to the President's desk, but e-mails and faxes from GOA activists have helped to stall the bill for now.
According to The Hill, the sense in Washington is that before the legislation is voted on in the House, it must be "amended to address the Gun Owners of America's concerns."
GOA alerted activists this fall to the Schumer-McCarthy legislation -- two bills that would sacrifice more of our privacy and deny even more good Americans their right to keep and bear arms.
GOA warned that this legislation had the potential to dupe many pro-gunners into cosponsoring the bill. One NRA Director (and one former Director) signed onto this legislation early on, and a few other "moderately" pro-gun Congressmen had cosponsored the bill as well.
The good news is that GOA e-mail activists have been able to keep many good congressmen from jumping on board, and this is a testament to your hard work and activism. Of the 75 plus congressmen who have cosponsored this legislation as of today, only seven have GOA ratings between an "A" and "C."
And this bill, which was introduced with much fanfare and media acclaim, now seems to have taken a back seat and is just gathering dust.
All these pro-gun victories are, of course, just the tip of the iceberg. There has been an unprecedented movement in recent months and years towards more gun ownership and more freedom to carry firearms.
To be sure, many of these "advances" are not pure victories. For example, while several states joined the concealed carry club this year, none of them passed laws that were as good as Alaska's.
But the arrival of Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri and New Mexico into this world of concealed carry this year brings the total number of CCW states to 45.
Much still needs to be done to move these states towards fewer restrictions. However, one can rejoice in the fact that the Brady Bunch is groaning now that "more guns are on the street."
We will be very busy this upcoming year. We hope you will support Gun Owners of America and work with us in 2004.
As a grassroots lobbying organization, the ability of GOA to continue putting pressure on politicians depends on loyal activists like yourself. Each year, GOA becomes stronger as more activists join the fight. And that growth is only possible when those who have come before continue their support.
If you haven't already joined GOA, isn't it time you did? If you are already a member, have you renewed for 2004 yet?
The battle to repeal the semi-auto ban will be arduous and expensive in the coming months even though prospects look quite good for winning it. Our e-mail alerts and Legislative Action Center, which are provided free in the interest of adding as many voices as possible to the pro-gun movement, cost tens of thousands of dollars every year.
Please consider adding your financial support in the form of a new membership, renewal, or donation today.
To join or renew online, please visit http://www.gunowners.org/ordergoamem.htm for secure credit card transactions. Donation options on that page also include repealing the semi-auto ban and funding e-mail alerts.
Or, print out and mail the following form.
Thank you for your activism and support of GOA.
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