Another Day, Another Senate Vote Against Your Rights

Hatch, Republicans Offer up More Gun Control

“There may not be much difference between Democrats and Republicans anymore.”
— Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle (SD)

(Thursday, May 20, 1999)—Senator Daschle made the above statement last night while commenting on all the Republican “concessions and reversals on guns in the past week,” reported the Associated Press.

Indeed, while Democrats have actively pushed for gun control amendments to Hatch’s juvenile crime bill, it is the Republican leadership that has crafted most of the gun control legislation that has passed. It all began last week with an amendment introduced by Republican Senator John Ashcroft (MO) which further criminalized the possession of certain firearms by young adults. (Keep in mind, that as late as the 1950s, kids were taking guns to school as part of organized school training activities or ROTC. But with the Ashcroft amendment, the mere possession of certain firearms could, under most circumstances, land a young adult in jail—even if there is a parent in the near vicinity and there is no harmful activity attempted with the firearm.)

Then there was the Hatch/Craig amendment, named after Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Larry Craig (R-ID). This anti-gun amendment passed and required that gun buyers go through background “registration” checks at gun shows, even if a person is buying from a PRIVATE individual. The Hatch/Craig amendment also included massive increases in funding for the BATF, in addition to a vast array of other gun control.

Finally, Tuesday brought about another interesting set of “bedfellows.” Orrin Hatch and Herb Kohl–the anti-gun zealot from Wisconsin—co-authored an amendment forcing gun sellers to include “lock up your safety” devices with every handgun sold. [Kohl (D) is best remembered for his unconstitutional Gun Free Zones Ban in 1996.] Although failure to use a trigger lock would not be negligence, per se, such failure could be used as evidence in court—thus encouraging people to refrain from keeping firearms for self-defense. At day’s end, the Hatch-Kohl amendment passed 78-20.

TALKING POINTS: Grassroots activists have reported two objections arising from Republicans who wish to justify their votes for Gun Control “Lite” these past two weeks:

1. Senators have argued they had to vote for “some gun control” restrictions in order to stem the tide against even greater gun controls. Of course, this is like someone saying they gave an alligator their right arm to keep it from eating the rest of their body—a ridiculous notion. But this is the situation Republicans now find themselves in. Having given up their “right arm” by supporting Gun Control “Lite,” they are now in a weaker position to oppose further encroachments. Once they concede the principle that prior restraints can be placed upon the Second Amendment, where will the encroachments end?

Moreover, this notion of voting for “some” gun control to evade “more” gun control HAS NOT worked. Every Republican concession has been met with further demands from the Democrats for MORE gun control. Feinstein, Lautenberg, Schumer, Boxer—they all want a piece of the action. None of them have been satisfied by preemptive concessions made by the Republicans. As stated by the Associated Press this morning: “Despite the concessions, [White House] officials prepared a long list of additional issues that the Republicans didn’t address, saying the GOP hadn’t gone far enough to stop some criminals from obtaining weapons.”

2. A couple of you have told us some Senate staffers are claiming GOA is only opposing these Gun Control “Lite” amendments in order to raise funds. The staffers making these specious claims can go to and read all of GOA’s alerts at the top of its Web page—and see that GOA has asked for a whopping total of $0.00.

ACTION: The Associated Press has reported that Republicans will today be working on “the most controversial gun-related measure” yet, as it calls for “background checks on all purchasers at gun shows, including transactions exempted in the proposal that Republicans muscled through the Senate last week.”

Please call your Senators (888-449-3511 or 202-224-3121) and ask them to oppose ALL gun control—even Republican sponsored compromises. Ask them to vote against S. 254. Mississippi residents should especially call Majority Leader Lott’s office (202-224-6253; fx: 224-2262) and ask him to pull this bill from the Senate floor.