Intelligence Report: Memorial Day Recess

GOA’s Intelligence Report For The Memorial Day Recess
— Congress to take up legislation affecting your gun rights after extended break

(Wednesday, May 31, 2000) — Congress is out of session this week, but your representatives still need to hear from you. Below are two items of great concern to our liberties.

Rep. Hostettler To Offer Amendments Stopping BATF From Enforcing Recent Gun Restrictions

Remember the Clinton & Wesson agreement from back in March? Well, pro-gun Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN) is still determined to stop the Clinton administration from imposing backdoor gun control upon a good portion of the gun industry through its recent deal with Smith & Wesson.

You will recall that the Clinton & Wesson agreement regulates the sales of ALL firearms sold by dealers carrying S&W products — including Glocks, Berettas, Brownings, etc. Moreover, no gun can be sold by an S&W dealer until the FBI gives a definitive “yes” or “no.” Thus, if the FBI’s computers go down (like they did just a couple of weeks ago) no S&W dealer can transfer a firearm until the government’s computers go back online and the FBI gives its verdict.

Since Clinton could not get Congress to do his dirty work, he pulled off a legislative coup d’etat by enlisting the help of S&W and the BATF. But the Clinton & Wesson deal can only work if the BATF gets funds to pay for their involvement in the Oversight Commission created by the accord. That’s where Hostettler hopes to score big. He’s ready to offer amendments to two appropriation bills, defunding any BATF involvement in the pact. Without funds for the BATF, the federal government cannot enforce the agreement.

Please stay tuned for future alerts, as GOA will keep you up to date with Hostettler’s plans. He will soon begin targeting both the HUD appropriations bill and funding for the BATF in the Treasury-Postal appropriations bill. (Both bills are still in committee and have yet to receive a legislative number.)

Oppose Legislation Giving Clinton The Power To Conduct Secret Searches On Your Property

Like a weed spreading through your garden, a provision proposing to give the Justice Department frightening new powers keeps popping up in bill after bill. Specifically, this “sneak and peek” provision would let the government sneak onto your property while you were away, seize certain items from your home and not tell you about it for months — if at all.

Currently, the provisions are in two bills (the bankruptcy and methamphetamine bills), but if the provision becomes law, it would apply to all federal agents and all searches and seizures — not just those affecting bankruptcy and drug cases.

Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute has noted that:

When conducting searches, federal agents are currently required to announce their presence before entering, and to provide an inventory of any items they take. Because the person whose home or business is being searched knows about the search, he can exercise his Fourth Amendment rights, and make sure that the police have a properly-issued search warrant. He can also see if the search is being conducted according to the warrant’s terms — i.e., the police are searching only for items authorized by the warrant, they are searching the right address, etc. But under a Secret Searches law, federal police could enter a person’s home surreptitiously, conduct a search, and not tell the homeowner until months later. Even months later, the police would not have to provide an inventory of ‘intangible’ items which were taken in a search. So if the police entered your home secretly, and photocopied your diary or made a copy of your computer hard disk, they would never have to inform you of their actions.

Of course, one wonders what those sneaky Clinton officials will do when they see certain “tangible” items in your home — like that Remington 1100 hanging in the family room, or the 9mm Beretta in the top drawer of your desk?

ACTION: Please ask your Representative and Senators to oppose any bill that contains these Secret Search provisions. They have already been deleted from one bill, but still remain in the bankruptcy reform bill (H.R. 833) and the Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation bill (H.R. 2987). The former bill, H.R. 833, is in a House-Senate conference committee — thus, both Senators and Representatives will be voting on this bill again. It is expected that the latter bill, H.R. 2987, will be voted on in the House in the near future.

You can use the GOA Legislative Action Center at to contact Congress and send messages. The toll-free Capitol switchboard number is 1-888-449-3511. A pre-written message is provided below.

The Clinton administration is strongly in favor of the Secret Search proviso and is lobbying Congress to get it passed. If administration lobbyists are thwarted in getting their expanded powers from these two bills, they will certainly try to get the proviso planted in other bills as well. Encourage your legislators to read the bills they vote for (a novel idea) and to vote against any bill that allows for officials to conduct secret searches on your property.

NOTE for Utah activists: Sen. Orrin Hatch is one of the prime backers of the Secret Search proviso, and he has been fervently working at getting it snuck into different legislation. Thus, one Republican Congressman has asked GOA to please urge its members to let Senator Hatch know you oppose the “sneak and peek” provision. If Sen. Hatch gets enough “heat” from his home state, he may relent on this dangerous provision.

—– Pre-written message —–

Dear Representative or Senator,

Please oppose any and all attempts to enact “Secret Search” provisions. Such provisions (as currently found in H.R. 833 and H.R. 2987) would give frightening new powers to the Justice Department at the expense of constitutional liberties.

The Fourth Amendment specifically protects a person from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, “Secret Search” legislation turns that amendment on its head by allowing completely surreptitious searches. Worse, certain types of property may then be seized — without any notification to a homeowner whatsoever. Private records such as computer files could be copied at will.

Such intrusive powers are usually associated with dictatorships, not free societies.

There is no possible legislative vehicle that would be anything other than an abomination if it contained such blatant abuses of power.

I request that you vote against any and all legislation, regardless of other merits, that includes “Secret Search” provisions.