GOA Members Still Applying the Heat
Gun Owners of America and its members spent a good part of last year lobbying their senators on the dangers that the Juvenile Injustice Bill (S. 10) poses to gun owners.
Now GOA has learned that these efforts are bearing fruit once again.
GOA contacted Senator Conrad Burns' office in December and confirmed his intention to remove his name as a cosponsor of S. 10, the anti-gun crime bill introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
Sen. Burns (R-MT) marks the third cosponsor to remove his name from a bill that, despite changes to it, could still choke the very life out of the gun industry.
Senators Wayne Allard (R-CO) and Bob Smith (R-NH) have also removed their names as cosponsors of the bill.
GOA members should be rightfully proud of their hard work. U.S. Senators rarely withdraw as cosponsors of legislation, so making it happen three times is significant indeed.
In a letter to GOA staff, Sen. Burns reiterated his Second Amendment concerns with the bill.
"Sections of the bill [S. 10] contain provisions that would infringe on an individual's Second Amendment rights," Senator Burns said.
"Although, Senator Hatch has informed me that he intends to review these sections, I do not feel that these modifications are occurring quickly enough and have doubts that the changes will protect our Second Amendment guarantees," said Burns. "For this reason, I have removed my name as a co-sponsor of S. 10."
GOA sends another volley up to Capitol Hill; exposes more dangers in S. 10
In January, Gun Owners of America provided Senators with even more material showing how S. 10 will become a nightmare for gun owners.
Senator Hatch is claiming that the problems with S. 10 have been fixed. And yet, slowly but surely, senators are beginning to realize there are still tremendous problems with the bill.
Moreover, as GOA has led the charge in exposing these hidden dangers in S. 10, more and more outside organizations are beginning to express their alarm about the contents of the bill.
GOA staff spent part of the Congressional recess generating increased opposition among other groups, including non firearms-related organizations.
Many groups have already committed to lobby those Senators who are refusing to "jump off" the bill.
Thus, gun owners could very well see the grassroots pressure greatly intensify this year as new recruits are now joining the fight against S. 10.
S. 10 could become the vehicle that cripples the gun industry
The most dangerous provision in the bill (section 206) would apply the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to a wide variety of firearms offenses, if the offense is committed by a person who supposedly knows he is furthering a federal offense that is a serious violent felony.
The chief danger of this provision, as reported from committee, concerns large gun manufacturers and dealers.
Shooting victims, prodded by Handgun Control, could paralyze the gun industry by bringing hundreds of lawsuits against those companies that sell firearms.
If unsuccessful in civil and related criminal cases, gun dealers and manufacturers could not only be required to pay crippling damages, their entire businesses could be forfeited as well.
And their officers and directors could go to prison for up to 20 years.
If this sounds far-fetched, consider the fact that firearms opponents have recently announced that they intend, over the next decade, to use the courts to paralyze the firearms industry in exactly the same way that lawsuits have crippled the tobacco industry, forcing an agreement by cigarette companies to pay over $365 billion in reparations.
Consider an article in the October 9, 1997 issue of the Boston Globe, entitled "Groups aim lawsuits at gun industry." The article reports:
Inspired in part by the proposed national tobacco settlement, critics of the gun industry have been filing lawsuits in an effort to force manufacturers to make safer firearms. . . .
Some lawsuits also attack the industry for advertising that people should keep guns for protection at home. . . . And the city of Philadelphia is considering a lawsuit to recoup money it spends on the health effects of handgun violence, similar to state lawsuits against tobacco companies to recoup Medicaid money spent on treating smokers.
Anti-gun lobby punishing gun dealers with frivolous law-suits
Indeed, the anti-gun lobby has already started bringing these types of lawsuits against the gun industry -- even before getting any help from RICO provisions in S. 10 (with its treble damages and fees for activist lawyers).
The New Gun Week (June 20, 1996) reported how the anti-gun lobby dealt a crushing blow to a Nevada pawnshop:
In a move that could have a bearing on future product liability suits directed at firearms manufacturers or makers and sellers of gun-related products, a Nevada pawnshop has admitted its role in selling one of two TEC-DC9 semi-auto pistols used by Gian Luggi Ferri in the 1993 shooting of the San Francisco law firms of Pettit & Martin where eight died.
According to news reports . . . Camco Inc., parent company of Superpawn, the Las Vegas pawnshop, has agreed to pay victims' survivors of the 1993 shooting an estimated $150,000 in damages to settle a suit lodged against the retailer.
Phillip Emmons, an attorney for the pawnshop, said the settlement was "basically an economic decision" . . . .
In announcing the settlement, Dennis Hennigan, director of the Washington, DC-based Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, a sister organization of Handgun Control Inc. (HCI), said that, "Camco's willingness to settle the suit sends a message to other gun sellers that there is a cost associated with the sale of 'assault weapons' to the general public."
Gun shop caves in to HCI-sponsored "legal terrorism"
The tragic thing about the above settlement is that the Nevada pawn shop probably could have won in court.
Navegar, the other defendant in the suit, refused to settle out of court and later beat the charges. (See "Suit Dismissed Against Maker of Murder Gun," in The New Gun Week, May 20, 1997.)
But the pawnshop owners could not afford to pay the potential damages that might be inflicted against them.
Even though they were no more guilty than the hardware store that sells a tire iron to someone who uses it to commit a murder, the pawnshop felt it was an "economic decision" to give up some cash now, instead of giving up a bunch of cash following a long, protracted suit.
Hatch bill could help Handgun Control dry up the gun supply in U.S.
With the tremendously enhanced booty available in S. 10, one can expect two things will happen.
First, more anti-gun lawyers will be willing to "roll the dice" and bring trumped-up charges against the gun dealers and manufacturers using the RICO provisions of S. 10.
Moreover, the victims of this onslaught will be forced to settle out of court (like the pawnshop above) to avoid the tremendous treble damages that could be inflicted against them.
Could firearms manufacture and sales in America survive a comparable demand for reparations? It is unlikely.
Once the "plaintiffs' bar" (that is, lawyers who specialize in bringing lawsuits) realizes that it can reap huge profits by bringing lawsuits against gun dealers and manufacturers under the RICO provisions of S. 10, the gun industry might eventually have to buckle under.
Under S. 10, honest gun owners could serve huge prison terms for slight errors
As if the preceding provisions were not bad enough, there are other problematic provisions that endanger gun owners' rights.
In addition to being unconstitutional and usurping the states' authority to deal with crime issues, the Juvenile Injustice Bill reported out of the Judiciary Committee last year would still do the following:
* Drag Dad from the target range and throw him into jail. Section 207 would increase to five years imprisonment the penalty for a parent who takes his son pistol shooting without a written note of permission -- which is required by 18 U.S.C. 922(x).
* Increase punishment for record-keeping mistakes. This bill would impose a five year prison sentence on any gun dealer for committing an honest record-keeping mistake with respect to the transfer of a firearm to a juvenile or resident of another state (section 506).
There are many other hidden dangers in S. 10. Gun owners are encouraged to arm themselves with the facts by visiting the GOA website at http://www.gunowners.org and viewing an in-depth analysis of the bill.
Larry Pratt Debates Handgun Control over Import Ban
Sparks flew recently when Larry Pratt (left) debated Sarah Brady's right hand man over the Clinton Import Ban.
Pratt took on Bob Walker of Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI) in this exciting Crossfire-style format.
If you would like to see this explosive debate, call 1-800-417-1486. Order yours today!
Official hypocrisy exposed in latest government proposals
GOA Blasts Clinton, BATF on Import Ban
Gun Owners of America recently blasted the Clinton administration for its continued assault on the Constitutional rights of gun owners, and chided the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) for its overt hypocrisy in enforcing firearms regulations.
Gun Owners was responding to the President's decision from November when he placed a 120-day freeze on the importation of certain semi-automatic firearms -- essentially, those firearms based on the AK 47, FN-FAL, HK 91, HK 93, SIG SG550-1 and Uzi designs.
At the end of this 120 day period, the Clinton administration will make a final decision on whether the firearms will be permanently banned.
In January, GOA sent an official protest to the Clinton administration after the Treasury Department (through the BATF) solicited comments from several organizations, including GOA.
"The members of Gun Owners of America object to the 'sporting purposes' test itself," said GOA Executive Director Larry Pratt.
"The framers of our Bill of Rights wisely provided for a 'right of the people to keep and bear arms,' and not for the sake of deer hunting or competitive shooting," Pratt said.
Founding Fathers: Firearms are the people's Liberty Teeth
The Federalist writer Noah Webster was clear in pointing out that the people must have arms comparable to those of their servants to ensure that the servants never become masters.
Webster said the American people need not fear a standing army, since "the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that could be, on any pretense, raised in the United States." 1
1 An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution Proposed by the Late Convention at 43, 1787.
Likewise, James Madison in Federalist No. 46 praised American's "advantage of being armed" which would furnish practical insurance against tyranny.
BATF: Placing double standards on gun owners
GOA's official comments rejected any notion that our Constitution allows for banning firearms that are not "readily adaptable" for sporting use.
Nevertheless, it was difficult to ignore how BATF officials have used a forked tongue in interpreting the word "readily."
The Gun Control Act of 1968 placed an unconstitutional requirement that imported firearms must be "readily adaptable" to sporting use.
BATF officials have since applied a very rigid test on what "readily" means, thus making it more difficult for firearms to qualify for importation.
And yet, BATF has adopted an expansive definition of the word "readily" in other situations when it suits them.
They have frequently prosecuted gun owners for owning completely inoperable firearms, claiming that the firearms could be "readily" restored to fire, even though the barrels had been welded shut at the breach and the barrels welded to the receiver.
Consider a case from 1973, when Treasury officials argued that the necessity of cutting off the barrel of the gun, drilling out is remnants, rethreading the receiver, and attaching a new barrel, did not prevent it from being "readily" restored.
It goes without saying that, if this is the test, any firearm on the moratorium list could "readily" be adapted to any possible sporting purpose.
Barrels, stocks, and any other features could be changed in a fraction of the time necessary to do the machine shop work in restoring a completely inoperable firearm.
Congress: Two bills to undo Clinton gun ban
There are two bills in the Congress that would halt the President's ability to ban imported firearms.
The first bill, H.R. 2734, would in essence nullify Clinton's import ban. The second, H.R. 2721, would repeal the "sporting purpose" test completely from federal law.
[H.R. 2721, introduced by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), also repeals the Brady Law and the 1994 ban on semi-automatic firearms.]
Gun Owners of America has asked the Treasury department to extend the comment period on the import ban proposal to individuals so that GOA members can send their comments as well. Please stay tuned.
FAST FACT: Some of the guns targeted by the Clinton import ban are the very guns with which the Korean merchants used to defend themselves during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Those firearms proved to be extremely useful to the Koreans, as their stores were left standing while other stores around them were burned to the ground.
Clinton Appoints 'Judicial Activist'
GOA Opposing Anti-gun Judge
Gun Owners of America has joined with several pro-freedom groups to block a Clinton-appointed judge from taking a seat on the federal bench.
In the next few weeks, the Senate may be considering the nomination of Margaret Morrow to a U.S. District Court position.
Ms. Morrow is not only extremely anti-gun, she's a "judicial activist" who thinks that judges can disregard the law and use the court's rulings to reshape society.
If nominated to the federal bench, she could affect the outcome of several gun cases, and ensure that the federal courts hand down even more anti-gun rulings.
Morrow was the 1993-94 President of the State Bar of California. The National Law Journal (10/25/93) reported that the October 1993 state bar convention "had only one big issue, gun control."
Even though a 1990 Supreme Court decision prohibited the California bar from using dues for political activity, Morrow "vowed" to push the gun control resolution anyway.
Morrow also sees law as an instrument for social change.
While our founding fathers studied William Blackstone and learned that law is "fixed, uniform and universal," Morrow believes otherwise.
She has written, "For the law is, almost by definition, on the cutting edge of social thought. It is the vehicle through which we ease the transition from the rules which have been to the rules which are to be." (Source: Margaret Morrow, Univ. of West L.A. Law Review, 1995.)
Translated, Morrow believes that no matter what the Constitution says, social engineers (legislators, judges, etc.) can use legislation or judicial opinions to change the direction of society.
If the Second Amendment stands in their way, they just ignore it.
Or better yet, they say it doesn't apply to the present today.
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) are reportedly intent on bringing up her nomination, despite her anti-gun record.
Gun owners should call their senators at 1-800-522-6721 or 202-224-3121 and ask them to oppose the Margaret Morrow nomination.
Gun Banner for Surgeon General?
The Senate will soon be resuming its consideration of Dr. David Satcher for Surgeon General.
Dr. Satcher, who heads up the virulently anti-gun Centers for Disease Control (CDC), was nominated by President Clinton last year to take on the "Top Doc" position.
Satcher's hired guns have called firearms a "virus that must be eradicated" and stated that such weapons should be viewed as cigarettes: "dirty, deadly and banned."
Gun owners should register their opposition to Dr. Satcher for Surgeon General by calling their Senators at 1-800-522-6721 or 202-224-3121.
GOA Holding Politicians Feet to the Fire
Gun Owners of America is committed to telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about politicians.
Often, the truth can be hard to come by. In fact, in several states this year, GOA is prepared for many legislators (or would-be legislators) to say or do just about anything to get elected.
While Gun Owners of America does not endorse or oppose candidates, your GOA is committed to finding and reporting the truth about where politicians stand on your right to keep and bear arms.
A key part of GOA's legislative efforts therefore is our annual Candidate Survey Program.
GOA Survey puts politicians on record
Generally, a legislative session ends a few months before the legislators must face their constituents at the ballot box.
During this time GOA compiles votes related to your gun rights. Then GOA staff plans for the next legislative year and produces a list of questions relevant to next year's legislative goals.
This list of questions -- the Survey -- is then mailed to all candidates for the legislature. Once the Surveys are returned, GOA lets you and other GOA members and supporters know just where the candidates stand.
Not all candidates answer the GOA Survey. This usually means the politician is radically anti-gun and doesn't care about pro-gun constituents.
Other candidates fill out the GOA Survey, but not 100% pro-gun.
For example, sometimes politicians "duck" a controversial issue by not answering certain questions, while filling out the rest of the candidate Survey Program.
Other times politicians try the old trick of telling GOA what he or she thinks pro-gunners want to hear, even though the legislative record contradicts their Survey. When politicians are being deceptive, GOA takes action to clear up the matter by pointing out specific votes or actions.
In 1992, Maryland state legislator Tom Hattery presented himself as a pro-gun candidate despite his votes for background checks and waiting periods.
In his race for higher office, several pro-gun groups jumped behind Hattery even though he had a definite gun control record.
But GOA let gun owners in the district know which person was the real pro-gun candidate in the race.
That person, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), went on to win his first election to Congress and is now the sponsor of the Citizen's Self-Defense Act -- which has more than 70 cosponsors.
GOA members bring pressure to bear on squishy politicians
The first major step to legislative victory is to identify likely legislative foes, fence straddlers and legislative friends. The Candidate Survey Program is the tool GOA staff and members use to answer these critical questions.
Through GOA's Survey Program, members know the answers politicians give or do not give on the Second Amendment. GOA will list survey answers and the legislator's voting record so that gun owners can see exactly where their legislator stands.
When GOA publishes Survey results, GOA supporters are asked to use the information gathered in the Survey Program to communicate with their legislative candidates. Whether it means expressing thanks for pro-gun support or asking them to renounce their anti-gun ways, this constituent response phase is the heart of the Survey Program.
The squeaky wheel gets the oil
The old saying "the squeaky wheel gets the oil" certainly applies to the gun rights movement.
Gun owners find they impact legislative battles when they consistently stand before the candidate, reminding him or her that they are to serve the public and uphold the Constitution.
Simply put, many politicians know that it is harmful to their career to go against the will of an informed and organized constituent base like GOA members and supporters.
Consider how the survey program has worked in Ohio. When the first Vermont-style right to carry bill (HB 485) was introduced by Rep. Ron Hood (R) in 1995 it had only four House sponsors.
After the 1996 Survey Program, Rep. Hood re-introduced the bill with more than double the original number of sponsors (9), and over 20 House members publicly pledging to support Vermont-style right to carry.
Similar results are occurring in other states where legislators are responding to GOA members, as the survey program generates support for Vermont-style right to carry.
Politicians are educated to those facts of life by GOA members and supporters taking the time to communicate with politicians at a time when politicians are listening -- election time.
Through phone calls, postcards, personal letters and face-to-face meetings, politicians are often convinced by their constituents that standing firm for the Second Amendment is good policy and good politics.
That's what GOA's Candidate Survey Program is all about.
GOA members should be prepared, as the wheels are already in motion for Survey 1998.
GOA will be conducting the Federal Survey Program nationwide and expects to be conducting the state program in at least a dozen states. GOA will once again be heavily relying on its members to put the heat on their elected officials.
Sheriff Mack Rides Again?
Gun owners owe a great deal to Sheriff Richard Mack. While Sheriff of Graham County, Arizona, he took on the federal government and won.
Mack was a plaintiff in the landmark case that resulted in the Supreme Court throwing out part of the Brady Law. Mack's victory in Washington cost him his job in Arizona. He and his family have paid a heavy price for us.
Now back in Provo, Utah where he served as a patrolman for years, Mack is running for Sheriff against an anti-gun incumbent. The incumbent had tried to ban target shooting on public lands.
The present sheriff even wanted to penalize violators of the shooting ban by confiscating their firearms.
Mack's opponent also opposes the idea of federal legislation to require federal agents to get the permission of the chief law enforcement officer of a county before the service of a federal warrant.
Sheriff Mack Posse Forming
Friends of Richard Mack have instituted the Sheriff Mack Posse, a national association organized to thank Sheriff Mack for the stand he took against the federal government and Sarah Brady.
There are several ranks and rates for those interested in joining the Sheriff Mack Posse: Major ($500 or $50/month), Captain ($300 or $30/month), Sergeant ($200 or $20/month), and Deputy ($150 -- no monthly option).
Those joining the posse will get a badge and an official wallet identification. Checks should be made out to PIT 11375 and sent to Sheriff Mack, 3585 North University Avenue, Suite 300, Provo, UT 84804.
Pro-Gun, Discount Phone Service available to GOA Members
Spurred by the support of AT&T and other phone companies for the anti-gun cause, Gun Owners of America has arranged with a very pro-gun long distance company, LifeLine, to provide discount service for GOA members and other supporters of the Second Amendment.
AT&T gave $3,000,000 to the Coalition for America's Children in 1996.
The Coalition was organized by the M.G. Fund, which was founded and is chaired by Marjorie Benton, also a trustee of the Benton Foundation and a National Committee member of Handgun Control, Inc. The Coalition shares office space with the Benton Foundation.
Now you can make your long distance calls at 4 to 8 % under AT&T and be sure you are no longer supporting a propaganda campaign against the Second Amendment.
Even better, there is a very real positive benefit to dealing with LifeLine. With LifeLine, 10% of your domestic long distance charges will be donated to Gun Owners of America.
How easy can it be? By just making the long distance calls you normally make, you can add to the support you currently provide GOA to fight to keep the government within the bounds of the Constitution.