House Votes To Restrict 2nd Amendment Groups

(Friday, February 15, 2002) — Well, we came close to killing the Incumbent Protection Act in the House this week.

To be exact, we came just six votes short.

Early Thursday morning, the House passed the Incumbent Protection Bill, which is also known as the “Shays-Meehan” bill after its two authors. The bill which purports to reform campaign finance laws will actually prohibit the ability of groups like GOA to engage in many forms of communication to the public which mention the names of incumbent legislators within 60 days of an election.

Gun Owners of America knew the legislation was almost unbeatable since 50 percent of Congressmen in the House had signaled their support for the bill by signing their names to a discharge petition — a parliamentary maneuver that forces a bill to a vote.

So GOA adopted the strategy of helping to push a pro-gun amendment that would act as a “poison pill,” killing the Incumbent Protection legislation bill if the amendment was inserted into the overall bill.

Rep. Chip Pickering (R-MS) was the man who stepped up to the plate and offered the Gun Owners Protection Amendment. It reaffirmed that the Second Amendment protects an individual right, and it exempted gun groups from the provisions of this draconian legislation.

The strategy almost worked. If just six Congressmen had switched their votes, the Gun Owners Protection Amendment would have probably caused the bill’s defeat on the floor of the House, as anti-gun Congressmen would have been forced to vote against the Incumbent Protection Bill.

At a minimum, Republican leaders in the House were hoping to force the bill to a conference committee — considered by most insiders to be a political graveyard for this legislation.

According to The Washington Times on Thursday, the Republican strategy “was to offer a series of amendments that would have broken apart the Shays-Meehan coalition and forced the bill to conference. They came closest on a [Pickering] amendment that would have exempted advocacy ads on guns from the bill’s regulations.”

To be sure, GOA would have still opposed the Incumbent Protection Bill if the pro-gun Pickering amendment had passed. Unfortunately, it failed by a narrow 219-208 vote. The overall bill later passed 240-189.

Most folks on the Hill think the Senate will try to evade a conference committee by adopting the version passed in the House. Having done this, the bill will go directly to the President.


1. It is imperative that you contact your two Senators and urge them to oppose this noxious and unconstitutional legislation. To identify your senators, as well as to send a message via e-mail, see the Legislative Action Center on the GOA website. There are two different letters to the Senate below. Please choose the appropriate message for your Senators.

(Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said he might try to filibuster this bill. Residents in the Blue Grass state should encourage him to do so.)

2. It is also important that you scold those legislators who voted wrong in the House earlier this week.

Please see the list of legislators below who voted * against * the Gun Owners Protection Amendment offered by Rep. Pickering. This provision reaffirmed the Second Amendment right to bear arms and protected pro-gun groups from having their First Amendment freedoms squelched near election time. (Look at the list carefully. There are some Representatives who claim to be pro-gun that voted against the Pickering amendment!)

NOTE: You can call your Representative or Senators toll-free at 1-877-762-8762 or at 202-225-3121.

—– Pre-written message for pro-gun Senators —–

Dear Senator:

The anti-gun Incumbent Protection bill is a dagger pointed at the heart of pro-gun groups. This bill — erroneously known as campaign finance reform — will squelch the voice of such organizations, and even threatens to eliminate their tax-exempt status.

I cannot count on the major media to inform me of what’s going on concerning my gun rights. I must rely on GOA and other groups to inform me of pending legislation or congressional votes, no matter how close to an election these issues arise.

In fact, the primary concern of the First Amendment is to protect exactly the type of political communication that the so-called campaign finance bill is trying to destroy.

Please support any attempts to filibuster this bill and vote AGAINST its final passage. It is an anti-gun and anti-speech abomination.


—– Pre-written message for anti-gun Senators —–

Dear Senator:

Even the AFL-CIO and the American Civil Liberties Union have attacked the Incumbent Protection Bill as counterproductive and unconstitutional.

This is because the principal impact of this legislation — erroneously known as campaign finance reform — would be to silence legislative advocacy groups, while doing nothing to address the real problems with the political system.

Please support any attempts to filibuster this bill and vote AGAINST its final passage. It is an anti-speech abomination.


—– Pre-written message to anti-gun Representatives —–

[NOTE: Only send the following “Dear Representative” letter to your Congressman if he is listed below! That list displays the Representatives who voted AGAINST the pro-gun Pickering amendment on February 13.]

Dear Representative:

Needless to say, I am VERY disappointed that you voted against the Gun Owners Protection Amendment which was offered by Rep. Chip Pickering on February 13.

Do you not agree that the Second Amendment protects the freedoms of individuals? The Pickering amendment was vitally important, as the overall Shays-Meehan bill is a dagger pointed at the heart of pro-gun groups.

But this dagger is not just pointed at organizations like Gun Owners of America, it is also pointed at the heart of groups all along the political spectrum. In fact, the only ones NOT really covered by this legislation are those in the media.

That is why this bill has aptly been called the Incumbent Protection Bill. Again, I am very disturbed by your vote, and you can be assured that I will not forget it.



Representatives who voted AGAINST the Gun Owners Protection Amendment:

Abercrombie     Gutierrez            Neal
Ackerman        Hall (OH)            Northup
Allen           Harman               Oberstar
Andrews         Hastings (FL)        Obey
Baca            Hill                 Olver
Baird           Hinchey              Ortiz
Baldacci        Hinojosa             Ose
Baldwin         Hoeffel              Owens
Barrett         Holt                 Pallone
Bass            Honda                Pascrell
Becerra         Hooley               Pastor
Bentsen         Horn                 Payne
Berkley         Houghton             Pelosi
Berman          Hoyer                Platts
Berry           Inslee               Pomeroy
Blagojevich     Israel               Price (NC)
Blumenauer      Jackson (IL)         Quinn
Boehlert        Jackson-Lee (TX)     Ramstad
Bonior          Jefferson            Rangel
Borski          Johnson (CT)         Reyes
Brady (PA)      Johnson, E. B.       Rivers
Brown (FL)      Jones (OH)           Rodriguez
Brown (OH)      Kanjorski            Roemer
Capps           Kaptur               Rothman
Capuano         Kildee               Roybal-Allard
Cardin          Kilpatrick           Rush
Carson (IN)     Kind (WI)            Sabo
Castle          Kirk                 Sanchez
Clay            Kleczka              Sanders
Clayton         Kucinich             Sandlin
Clement         LaFalce              Sawyer
Clyburn         Lampson              Saxton
Condit          Langevin             Schakowsky
Conyers         Lantos               Schiff
Costello        Larsen (WA)          Scott
Coyne           Larson (CT)          Serrano
Crowley         Leach                Shays
Cummings        Lee                  Sherman
Davis (CA)      Levin                Skelton
Davis (FL)      Lewis (GA)           Slaughter
Davis (IL)      Lipinski             Smith (MI)
DeFazio         LoBiondo             Smith (WA)
DeGette         Lofgren              Snyder
Delahunt        Lowey                Solis
DeLauro         Luther               Spratt
Deutsch         Lynch                Stark
Dicks           Maloney (CT)         Stenholm
Dingell         Maloney (NY)         Stupak
Doggett         Markey               Tauscher
Dooley          Mascara              Thompson (CA)
Doyle           Matheson             Thompson (MS)
Edwards         Matsui               Thune
Ehlers          McCarthy (MO)        Thurman
Engel           McCarthy (NY)        Tierney
Eshoo           McCollum             Towns
Etheridge       McDermott            Turner
Evans           McGovern             Udall (CO)
Farr            McIntyre             Udall (NM)
Fattah          McKinney             Velazquez
Ferguson        McNulty              Visclosky
Filner          Meehan               Walsh
Foley           Meek (FL)            Wamp
Ford            Meeks (NY)           Waters
Frank           Menendez             Watson (CA)
Frelinghuysen   Millender-McDonald   Watt (NC)
Frost           Miller, George       Waxman
Gephardt        Mink                 Weiner
Gilchrest       Moore                Weldon (PA)
Gilman          Moran (VA)           Wexler
Gonzalez        Morella              Wolf
Green (TX)      Murtha               Woolsey
Greenwood       Nadler               Wu
Grucci          Napolitano           Wynn


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