Newsletters 1994-2001

by Erich Pratt

Gun owners across the country received a tremendous shock in March when the President quickly called the media together for an unexpected, gun-related announcement.

The shocking revelation was truly unprecedented.

GOA in the News

GOA Exceutive Director Larry Pratt defends gun owners' rights on NBC's Today show in March while answering a question from hostess Katie Couric.

British gun maker Smith & Wesson had agreed to "settle" with the Clinton administration, the former agreeing to a multitude of gun restrictions in exchange for possible immunity from the dozens of lawsuits being launched by both federal and city governments around the country.

Despite what was commonly reported in the media, the restrictions included in this deal were sweeping and would affect far more people than just the executives at S&W.

News of the Clinton & Wesson settlement rocked the nation for an entire week, and spokesmen from Gun Owners of America appeared on countless radio and TV broadcasts to denounce the extortion agreement.

From NBC's Today show on network TV to cable's CNN and MSNBC, GOA repeatedly blasted the unholy alliance.

Inside the Congress, GOA staff went to work with pro-gun Representative John Hostettler (R-IN) to stop the Clinton administration from enforcing the new gun restrictions.

Clinton & Wesson deal imposes gun restrictions on all gun owners

The Smith & Wesson agreement not only affects the company itself, but would also inflict harsh infringements on private gun buyers, as well as retailers that carry S&W products.

That's right. The Clinton administration has achieved much of its outrageous gun control agenda -- anti-safety trigger locks, gun rationing, gun bans and more -- all without Congressional approval.

"This is not a settlement agreement," said constitutional attorney Dr. Herb Titus. "This agreement is legislation without representation."

Unlike a real settlement -- where opposing sides avoid a court battle by reaching a compromise that binds the two parties -- this agreement would impose draconian "legislation" upon gun owners everywhere.

Smith & Wesson has tried to mislead gun owners into thinking the agreement only affects them, but such is not the case. [See the related article later in this issue to read just some of the real problems in the S&W agreement.]

BATF to help enforce the S&W accord

To enforce the Clinton & Wesson deal, an "Oversight Commission" that has the force of law will make sure the gun control restrictions agreed to by S&W are being followed by all dealers doing business with the company -- restrictions that apply to ALL brands carried by the dealer, not just the S&W guns that they sell.

This alone explains why so many dealers are no longer carrying S&W products.

The Oversight Commission will include four government officials (one from the BATF) and a Smith & Wesson executive.

If S&W -- or any dealer that has signed on to the deal -- violates the terms of the accord, then they can be taken to court on contempt charges.

No administrative agency has this kind of power.

"Contempt proceedings, as any lawyer will tell you, are extremely dangerous in terms of the rights of the parties," said Dr. Titus, who appeared live with GOA Executive Director, Larry Pratt, on the syndicated Live Fire program in March.

"There are no defenses if the court concludes that you violated the terms of the agreement.

"Once you have submitted yourself to the jurisdiction of the court, you don't have the same rights as you do if you're outside the court jurisdiction and the administrative agency or the government agency is required to prove their case," Titus said.

Rep. Hostettler fighting Clinton & Wesson gun restrictions

Rep. Hostettler is now leading the charge against this unholy alliance between Smith & Wesson and the administration.

To this end, GOA has helped Rep. Hostettler to excite tremendous support inside the Congress for his efforts.

Hostettler wants to put pro-gun language in this year's budget to stop the Clinton administration from using the deal to impose backdoor gun control.

He circulated two letters addressed to the appropriations subcommittee chairmen who are in charge of the Treasury and HUD departments -- Representatives Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and James Walsh (R-NY).

The letters ask these powerful chairmen to insert language defunding the BATF's involvement in the Oversight Commission that was created in the recent Clinton & Wesson agreement.

Gun Owners of America helped Hostettler get more than 60 House members to sign these letters.

Hostettler's office noted that such a high number of signatures forces the subcommittee chairmen to "take notice" that there's a lot of support for defanging the Clinton & Wesson sell-out deal.

Legal extortion the Mafia could only dream of using

Over at the White House, the administration is still trying to arm-twist more gun makers into joining the S&W agreement.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has threatened to launch, what amounts to be, frivolous lawsuits against the nation's gun manufacturers -- for supposedly allowing illegal guns to invade public housing projects.

More GOA in the News

John Velleco refutes HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo live on CNN.

And more than 30 cities have launched their own lawsuits against various firearms businesses. Taken together, they threaten to put gun makers out of business by forcing the companies to defend themselves in multiple courtrooms across the country.

The lawsuits essentially claim the nation's gun manufacturers should be held responsible for producing firearms that do not have sufficient safety devices built in.

Moreover, many of the lawsuits fault the companies for supposedly distributing their firearms in a careless manner and in such a way that criminals end up getting their hands on them.

Some of these suits have already been thrown out of court -- a sign that the suits are indeed frivolous.

Manufacturers have been told in no uncertain terms that they can escape the suits -- just like Smith & Wesson did -- if they will only join the sell-out agreement with the administration.

Of course, most people recognize these tactics for what they are -- extortion, plain and simple.

Bribes and fat government contracts

The Clinton administration has failed to get a single company to join Smith & Wesson.

But it's not for a lack of trying.

Where the extortion has failed, the President has resorted to the ancient art of the bribe.

In an interview with WorldNetDaily, Taurus Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Bob Morrison, explained the bribe HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo offered them.

"If we would come with S&W, he [Cuomo] would absolutely make us favored with lush government contracts to buy more firearms from us," Morrison said.

And what was Taurus' answer?

They told Cuomo and the Clinton administration to take a hike.

Good for them. But many of these companies are still under the threat of lawsuits on the one hand, and are being offered the bribe on the other.

And thus, Rep. Hostettler has introduced legislation to stop both.

H.R. 1577, which would stop the frivolous federal and city lawsuits against the gun industry, currently has 26 cosponsors.

And Hostettler recently introduced H.R. ??? to stop the administration from rewarding any gun maker that cuts a gun control deal with the government.

Gun owners need to contact their Representatives in support of these bills defending the gun makers.

As Ben Franklin said, "we all need to hang together, or else we'll all hang separately."



Maryland Governor Fumbles with Trigger Locks,
But scores big with new gun ban and restrictions

by Dennis Fusaro

Even as he fumbled with a trigger lock on a handgun at a police training session, Governor Parris Glendenning (D-MD) had his political enforcers out "whipping" the vote in the state Senate and House to pass a sweeping new gun control bill in March.

Glendenning "threatened" legislators with the denial of taxpayer-funded programs in their districts if they didn't tow the line and support his modified bill.

The new gun restrictions passed the Maryland House 83 to 57 after the failure of numerous amendments designed to delay the bill and send it back to the Senate.

Notable was the support for the bill from Speaker Casper Taylor (D-1c) who claims to be pro-gun and has been supported by gun owners' and sportsmen's groups in his rural Western Maryland district in the past.

Prior to the final action in the House, grassroots gun groups sought to block the bill using a filibuster, basically a method of blocking legislation by not ending debate.

When a group of supposedly "pro-gun" Democrat Senators signaled they wouldn't join a filibuster, many pro-gun Republicans became demoralized and refused to mount one.

For example, Judicial Proceedings Chairman Walter M. Baker [D-36] said that while he would vote against the bill, he would not participate in a filibuster.

Baker, it should be known, carried out a similar betrayal in 1996 when he voted to pass Maryland's one-gun-a-month law on handguns and certain rifles.

Other "pro-gun" Senators on whom gun owners should have been able to rely on for a filibuster were Neall (D-33), Stone (D-07), Middleton (D-28), DeGrange (D-32), Bromwell (D-08), Dyson (D-29), Collins (D-06), Astle (D-30) and Jimeno (D-31).

Of these nine Senators, only Dyson and Jimeno were "reported" willing to join a filibuster if one was mounted. Bromwell was reported as refusing to join filibuster.

The filibuster was the only chance gun owners had to stop this bill.

Republican "Benedict Arnolds" cross over to the other side

The real betrayal occurred when Senator Tim Ferguson (R-4) convinced other pro-gun Republicans to make him leader in the fight against SB 211, but then marched off to cut a deal behind closed doors with governor Glendenning's lobbyist.

Having avoided GOA efforts to contact him for two days, Senator Ferguson called GOA from the floor around the time he was sealing the deal with the surrender of a filibuster on Second Reading.

He was trying to sell GOA staff on his deal to surrender for minor amendments to the bill. GOA refused and urged him to filibuster.

A last ditch effort to filibuster the bill was led by freshman Senator Alex I. Mooney (R-3) who had not agreed to Ferguson's deal.

Others who stood up for gun owners were Senators Andy Harris (R-09) and Nancy Jacobs (R-34). By this time so much leverage had been lost due to Senator Ferguson's betrayal and the fear in the hearts of most other "pro-gun" Senators that defeat "became" inevitable.

Senator Ferguson then gained the floor and gave control of the agenda back to Senate President Mike Miller (D-27) who called for the vote, ending the filibuster.

The bill passed the state Senate 26 to 21 on March 27, 2000.

On the Republican side, three Senators voted for SB 211: Hogan (R-39), Minority "Leader" Madden (R-13) and Roesser (R-15).

Conservative Democrats given a free pass

Gun Owners need to keep in mind that the real votes and actions that led to the defeat of their rights in the passage of SB 211 were the refusals of various senators to mount a filibuster.

If the "Conservative" Democrats who said they wouldn't filibuster had been forced to prove their loyalty to the Governor and their disloyalty to gun owners, then we may have won enough votes to hold the filibuster.

These Democrats must have known that a filibuster -- or the vote to end the filibuster -- would expose them in their districts.

They had everything to gain by "talking down" a filibuster -- it gives them the best of both worlds. They don't have to cross the Governor in a bill killing confrontation and they can claim to be "pro-gun" because they voted against the bill on a meaningless final passage vote.

SB 211 brings sweeping new gun restrictions into the state

SB 211 will be devastating to the rights of gun owners in Maryland:

Most seriously, the bill will restrict, if not completely outlaw, all handguns in the state after 2002 -- the only exceptions being a grandfather clause and an exception for government officials.
It would do this by prohibiting a dealer from selling a new handgun without an "integrated mechanical safety device," a term which has not yet been defined definitively.
SB 211 will expand the category of handguns that can be subject to forfeiture. For example, citizens can lose their guns if they violate any of the technical and labyrinthine rules governing the sale of a firearm in the state.
The bill creates a registry of handguns and ballistic results which could easily be turned into a comprehensive registry of firearms owners -- whether or not the firearm was new or used, so long as it passed through the hands of a manufacturer.

Since the above items are merely the tip of the iceberg, readers are encouraged to go to http://www.gunowners.org/smd0700a.htm on the GOA website to read the full report.



While demonstrating the "ease" of using trigger lock technology, anti-gun Maryland Governor Parris Glendenning (D) struggled for several minutes before finally removing the lock at a police training session.

Senator Tim Ferguson (R) broke his commitment to gun owners when he refused to filibuster the governor's anti-gun bill.

Senator Alex Mooney (R) stood up for gun owners and led a last minute filibuster against the bill.


Elements of the Clinton & Wesson accord not commonly reported in the media

Restrictions on individual gun owners

  • Gun rationing.
    Any gun dealer that carries S&W products can NOT sell a buyer two handguns on the same day... or even during the same week!
    A dealer that stocks Smith & Wesson guns will not be able to sell two handguns during a 14-day-period. It does not matter if the buyer wants two Berettas or two Glock pistols.
  • Semi-auto and magazine ban.
    People will not be able to buy certain semi-autos (covered by the 1994 gun ban) or magazines that hold over 10 rounds from any S&W approved dealer. Unlike the Congressional ban, however, this prohibition applies no matter when the gun or magazine was manufactured.
  • Mandatory training requirements.
    A person will not be able to buy a gun from any S&W dealer unless they first put their rights on hold for however long it takes to complete a certified training course.
    Hopefully, no woman will ever try to buy her first gun to protect herself from a stalker or abusive spouse.
    Because now, dealers carrying S&W products cannot sell that person a self-defense gun until that person jumps through the Clinton & Wesson hoops.
  • Backdoor gun ban?
    A person wishing to buy a firearm from any S&W approved dealer would be prohibited from receiving ANY firearm -- unless the FBI had given its approval after a Brady Law Instant Check. There can be no gun sale without a definite answer from the FBI, even if their check takes longer than the three business days allowed under the Brady Check.
    The Clinton & Wesson agreement stipulates that participating gun retailers cannot sell ANY firearm until they receive definitive notice that the transferee is not a prohibited person under the Gun Control Act.
    Currently, if FBI has not given a definitive "yes" or "no" reply, the dealer may proceed to consummate the sale at the end of three business days.
    Under the Clinton & Wesson agreement, the purchase cannot go ahead unless the FBI changes its "delay" response to a definitive "yes."
    Thus, millions of Americans could be denied the right to own a firearm through continuous "delay" responses.


More GOA in the News


GOA's Erich Pratt, on NBC's Today show, blasts the Clinton & Wesson extortion agreement.

Restrictions on gun dealers

  • Mandatory gun owner registration.
    A S&W dealer will not be able to sell any of his guns at a gun show unless ALL of the sales at the show -- including private sales -- are run through a registration background check.
  • Mandatory employee training.
    This would require all employees of dealers and distributors to attend mandatory ATF approved training and "pass a comprehensive written exam."
    Thus, dealers who have had a business for 20 years will now need to send their employees to the federal government for indoctrination.
  • BATF harassment provision.
    This agreement binds S&W dealers in massive amounts of red tape and gives the new Oversight Commission (including its BATF representative) increased access into gun dealers' stores and records -- more so than is currently allowed by federal law.
    Dealers and distributors are encouraged to "consent to up to three unannounced ATF compliance inspections each year."
    The above provisions are just the tip of the iceberg. Readers are encouraged to go to http://www.gunowners.org/s&wsellout.htm on the GOA website to read the entire agreement.


Lessons Elian Can Teach Us

The continuing saga of Elian Gonzalez's perilous pilgrimage to freedom has already produced a number of important lessons.

Hopefully Elian can teach us about the rule of law. Certainly it sticks in the throat when President Clinton, a convicted perjurer and obstructer of justice lectures the country about the rule of law.

The Florida family courts have all along been the proper place to determine legal custody of a boy whose mother died bringing him to freedom. It would be relevant in such a court to point out that Elian's father has no parental rights because all such rights belong to the Cuban totalitarian state resting on the systematic murder of tens of thousands of people.


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Evidence could have been entered that Mr. Gonzalez would have no more control over the education, religion or disposition of Elian than a slave father on a Georgia plantation in 1835.

Instead, Attorney General Janet Reno has sent troops she personally controls -- agents of the Immigration and Naturalization Service -- on a raid using a fraudulent warrant. All during this time negotiations between the government and the Gonzalez family were under way.

Of perhaps the greatest concern was the unwillingness of Miami Police Chief William O'Brien to conceal his advance knowledge of the raid from Mayor Joe Carollo. In fact, assistant chief John Brooks went on the raid to order the street cops to let the agents through police lines.

Brooks' explanation is hauntingly similar for those who recall the Nazi defense after World War II: "I had a job to do. I did it in the most professional way I could." Brooks added, "This was a police issue, not a political issue."

No doubt Mr. Brooks would also have us believe another episode in the raid was just a police issue. A justification for the paramilitary style storming of the Gonzalez house was that one of the Gonzalez friends was known to have a concealed carry permit. Mario Blas Miranda earlier told the cops that he has such a permit. Mr. Miranda is a private investigator and a former police officer. To handle this dangerous man during the raid he was knocked to the ground, forced spread eagle and doused with pepper spray while a shotgun was put to his ear. Agents never even bothered to search Miranda for his gun.

Hopefully the people of Miami will not rest until Chief O'Brien and Assistant Chief Brooks are fired.

Hopefully also, all Americans will not rest until we rein in and fire federal officials that abuse their authority.




Sisters to take on Moms this Mother's Day

Several cities across the country will become a battleground this Mother's Day, when the Second Amendment Sisters countermarch against the misinformed Moms.

The Dallas-based Sisters is not just marching to protest gun control legislation. They are also taking on the so-called Million Mom March, a national anti-gun rally that is scheduled for the same day -- a rally which is actually expected to only draw about 100,000 "moms."

"We just have to make sure that people don't think the million moms speak for all women," said Mrs. Debra Collins.

As Mrs. Collins tells it, she became a Second Amendment Sister the night a gun saved her from a beating by her abusive ex-husband.

"I've learned that a gun is the only thing that will level the playing field for a woman who's being attacked," Mrs. Collins said.

Those who would like more information on the Second Amendment Sisters, and to see if there will be a rally near you on May 14, can go to http://www.SAS-AIM.org on the Internet.

Thank You!

Gun Owners of America is deeply grateful to the Granite Fish and Game Club of Milford, NH for their very generous donation of $27,000.

In recent years the club had become inactive and the remaining members voted to send its remaining funds to further the work of GOA.

GOA extends its heartfelt thanks to John Gallagher, John Kirby, Ernest Wright, Everett Wheeler, and his son Dave.

Dave Wheeler is a former NH state senator and is presently a candidate for Executive Council -- a statewide office somewhat equivalent to the Governor's cabinet, or a group of Lieutenant Governors. Among other things, the Councilors vote on supreme court justices and the attorney general of the state.

Live Fire is back...
on both radio and internet!

Larry Pratt's Live Fire radio show can now be heard on short wave on Angel 5 broadcasting at 7.580 on the short wave dial. In addition to several AM stations, Live Firehttp://www.gunowners.org/radio.htm (the show is also archived at that address). To call in while the show is live, dial the toll-free number 1-877-773-TALK (8255). is also simulcast on the web at 11:30 a.m. Eastern time on Saturdays at



March Madness on Capitol Hill:

How GOA members are making a difference

by Erich Pratt

Senator Boxer Attacks GOA for not Compromising

Sparks flew on the Senate floor in March when Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) attacked Gun Owners of America for refusing to compromise on firearms restrictions.

Boxer, trying to squeeze political advantage out of the horrible shootings that have made headline news recently, was offering a gun control amendment to an education bill.


Barbara Boxer attacked GOA on the floor of the Senate for failing to support gun control legislation.

To her chagrin, GOA refused to go along. Boxer complained:

"I could not understand why we could not walk, hand in hand, down the Senate aisle and vote for the Boxer amendment. But when I got back to my office, I found out why because there waiting for me was a letter from the Gun Owners of America attacking my amendment....."

"We should look at what their logo says: 'Gun Owners of America, 25 Years of No Compromise.' That is their slogan. That is their logo: '25 Years of No Compromise.'"

Boxer's amendment was a non-binding resolution that would have called on Congress to move the crime bill out of conference committee and to the President's desk by a specific date.

As her amendment came with little warning, there was no time to enlist the grassroots in the fight.

But GOA went to bat for gun owners' rights and delivered a statement opposing the amendment to every Senate office.

Thankfully, enough Senators did the right thing -- the Boxer amendment failed on a tie vote of 49-49. [GOA has this vote posted on the web at http://www.gunowners.org/106svote.htm.]

Hill insiders credit GOA members with blocking the Crime Bill

High-ranking sources on Capitol Hill are congratulating GOA for blocking efforts thus far to pass the juvenile crime bill.

Specifically, GOA has focused intense "heat" on Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who until recently was publicly stating his willingness to accept a juvenile crime bill full of gun control.

"Because of your work in Utah, Sen. Orrin Hatch has changed his tactics," said one high-ranking Hill staffer.


Orrin Hatch has been feeling the heat from gun owners lately.

"Hatch has now indicated a willingness to let the gun control provisions of his bill bite the dust in order to get the rest of his Juvenile Justice bill passed."

Even the President has become aware of the intense heat on Senator Hatch. Lamenting that the conference committee has still not met in several months, the President stated in March that "there's so much pressure on Senator Hatch not to call a [conference] meeting."

Indeed, that "pressure" is spelled G-U-N-O-W-N-E-R-S, said GOA Executive Director Larry Pratt. "GOA members should give themselves a pat on the back for their good work in reining Sen. Hatch back into the fold."

GOA members help narrow anti-gun margin in House

The House narrowly voted in March to instruct House-Senate conferees to begin meeting on the anti-gun juvenile bill within two weeks.

That was the bad news.

As for the good news, the motion that passed was non-binding. And as this newsletter goes to press, the conference committee still has not met, despite the fact that the two-week deadline has passed.

This vote can be completely ignored by the conferees, and so far, it has been. Besides, 218 votes is not much of a mandate anyway. But that's not all.

Our side also appears to be gaining ground.

The pro-gun side in Congress picked up more than 20 votes from the last time this issue was voted on.

Last September, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) offered a similar motion instructing the conferees to begin meeting. It passed with 241 votes. Her motion in March passed with only 218 votes.

Considering the fact that there are 435 Representatives, the 218 votes in favor of the motion was exactly the number of votes needed to get a majority in the House. [GOA has this vote posted on the web at http://www.gunowners.org/106hvote.htm.]

It would seem that the gun banners are losing ground and that gun owners are having an impact once again.



The Danger of Trigger Locks

by Larry Pratt
Executive Director

Trigger locks are being sold to the American people as a way to prevent crime and accidental deaths involving firearms.

Sen. Orrin Hatch has signed on to this position, saying after a March 7 meeting with President Clinton: "If we could put the gun show provision aside I think we'd have a bill [trigger locks included]."

Last year, Hatch even sponsored an amendment to the juvenile crime bill that mandated the sale of trigger locks with every handgun sold over the counter.

The reason President Clinton supports the same measure, in his words is, "I'm not at all sure that even a callous, irresponsible drug dealer with a 6-year-old in the house wouldn't leave a child trigger lock on a gun" (The Washington Post, 3/9/00).

Will a man who sells drugs to anybody (including children) also use a trigger lock on a gun? It's bad enough if the President believes that, but why should Sen. Hatch be in agreement with the President?

Trigger locks are being promoted by the anti-self-defense crowd because they want people to be more afraid of their gun than violent criminals. The tragedy of all this would be for people to lock up their safety. They would then be in compliance with the Home Invader Protection Act.

Almost 7,000 people each day use a gun in self-defense. What will trigger locks do to that figure (which is over three times the number of criminal uses of guns each day) if the trigger lock mania wins the day?

The Senator has bought into the anti-gun rights mentality by thinking that criminals will obey a law they find inconvenient.

"Well," we are told, "seat belts save lives with cars; we only want trigger locks to do the same." What is overlooked in this analogy is that guns without trigger locks save millions of lives a year. Trigger locks will be very counter productive.

Voters in liberal Washington state voted overwhelmingly (71-29 percent) in 1997 against a trigger lock initiative on their ballot.

Handgun Control, Inc. has described trigger locks (and other anti-gun rights measures before the Congress) as just a first step. That is what they have said about banning certain rifles, about the Brady law, and now about trigger locks.

They are admittedly heading for registration and licensure of gun owners, and that is where the debate will be if Senator Hatch manages to give Handgun Control what they want now -- trigger locks.

In 1985 a Bethel, OK mother's life was saved by her six-year old son who used a rifle to kill the man trying to kill his mom.

In 1994, Jarrod Barnes, 13, of Tulsa, OK, saved his life when a man broke into his home (he was alone with his three brothers) and chased him into a bedroom. Jarrod found a pistol and killed the pursuing attacker.

Would Senator Hatch want to tell these (then) youngsters and their parents that they should have had to deal with a trigger lock?

Worse yet, would he tell them that they should not have had access to the key?

Senator Hatch has the Capitol Police to protect him. He can use a trigger lock if he wants.