Gun Owners Winning– For Now

Gun Owners Win Major House Battle
–But some Republicans still plugging for gun control

“I am disappointed . . . [with] the vast majority of Democrats [who] voted against a fair and open process, voted against the Juvenile Justice bill and voted against common-sense [sic] gun control legislation.” — House Speaker Denny Hastert, June 21, 1999

(Monday, June 21, 1999) — House Speaker Denny Hastert is right. The Democrats can be “thanked” for killing the anti-gun juvenile justice bill.

Of course, Democrats were just being true to their own convictions. They refused to vote for a bill that contained even some pro-gun provisions, no matter how minor those provisions were. The bill contained an amendment by Rep. Hunter (CA) to allow D.C. residents to keep firearms in their homes; an amendment by Rep. Sessions (TX) to let people reclaim their pawned guns without a background check (in most cases); and an amendment by Rep. Cunningham (CA) granting concealed carry reciprocity to off-duty and retired cops.

But the anti-gun crime bill (H.R. 2122) contained many far-reaching gun control provisions, as well:

* It would have banned private sales of firearms at gun shows unless the buyer submitted to a background registration check;

* The bill allowed for unlimited BATF ability to regulate and conduct harassing inspections of gun shows– to the point where gun shows could be regulated out of existence;

* H.R. 2122 would have imposed mandatory “lock up your safety” devices on all handguns sold; and

* It would have banned imports of self-defense magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

Truly, the 280-147 vote on Friday was a victory for gun owners. But it was a hollow one at that. Consider the statement from The Washington Post on Sunday: “The House debate focused not on whether gun control is necessary, but on how much gun control is necessary.” During last week’s debate, it became very evident that the debate focus has shifted, as several ugly trends emerged from the sparring over H.R. 2122:

* Many “pro-gun” legislators and political insiders supported both gun control amendments and final passage of the anti-gun bill. For example, the Associated Press reported on Saturday that,

“Republican leaders and the NRA launched a furious last-minute lobbying effort to pass the bill with the Dingell [Gun Control ‘Lite’] amendment attached.”

* The Republican leadership showed that it is clearly committed to passing “some gun control.” Like the flawed Ulysses hero of Homer’s epic tale, the Republican leadership is trying to enjoy the music of the Sirens without falling prey to its curse. Likewise, Republicans want gun control, but without offending their conservative supporters:

“House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., told leaders in a private meeting early Friday that passing the bill would give the GOP a better chance at [enacting] some gun control, but not so much as to turn off conservative campaign donors next year.” — Associated Press, June 19, 1999

* Gun control is hardly dead in the House and Senate, and is most likely to come up again. The Washington Post confirmed this point yesterday:

“Democrats … are vowing to raise the [gun control] issue relentlessly over the coming months.”

Please Stay Tuned. The battle is hardly over. Keep watching your fax machines and email boxes as GOA will continue to alert activists of upcoming fights. Later this week, GOA will provide a full analysis of each firearms related amendment that was voted on last week and will post complete voting records relating to all of these provisions.