Gun Owners Dodge Bullet On Education Bill

Gun Owners Dodge Bullet on Education Bill
— GOA members helped keep gun control off of bill

(Friday, June 22, 2001) — Well, the Senate passed an education bill last week with no gun control amendments attached to it. The “disaster that didn’t happen” will never make the front page of the New York Times, but this doesn’t mean that it didn’t take all the skill and input that gun owners could muster in order to avoid a catastrophe.

In fact, had gun owners done nothing, there is a strong likelihood that we would have been faced with a nightmare reminiscent of the Lautenberg and Kohl gun bans which passed the Senate in 1996.

Gun Grabbers on the Attack

Here was the situation last week: Five gun-related amendments had been submitted for consideration. There were three relatively minor amendments by Senators Bond (R-MO) and Dorgan (D-ND). There was an amendment by Senators Wyden (D-OR) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) to require that a kid who comes to school with his hunting rifle in his car must be imprisoned for 24 hours.

Finally, there was the Byrd (D-WV) amendment, which incorporated language offered in the last Congress to: 1. require that trigger locks be purchased with each handgun sold by an FFL; 2. impose a lifetime gun ban for juvenile indiscretions; and 3. take the existing provisions making it extremely difficult to teach your children the safe and responsible use of handguns–and expand those provisions to certain rifles and shotguns.

Some pro-Second Amendment lobbyists from other organizations had supported these provisions last year because they believed that their adoption was necessary to defeat even more undesirable Clinton-backed gun control. So this left GOA and its members to do the heavy lifting on this issue.

Senator Smith of New Hampshire Stands for the Bill of Rights

Thankfully, Senator Bob Smith agreed to turn the education debate into a pro-gun donnybrook should the Byrd amendment — or something even worse–be offered. Smith submitted an amendment to allow teachers and staff to use firearms, if necessary, to prevent a school massacre; and GOA alerted its members of this amendment.

The GOA alert was very effective. Even senators from small liberal New England states received numerous letters from constituents. Senators Kennedy, Kyl, Craig, and a wide variety of other offices were also prompted to contact Smith to ascertain his intentions.

Smith Looking to Offer Pro-gun Amendments to Future Legislation

In addition, Senator Smith was considering other pro-gun amendments to attach to the education bill. While no gun amendments (on either side of the debate) got offered this time around, Senator Smith is keeping his legislative arsenal ready for upcoming Senate battles.

The Smith amendments forced anti-gun Democrats to back down. The Democrats had hoped to pass the Byrd amendment and similar gun control proposals by consensus. But because of their concern for senators from pro-gun states, such as Tim Johnson (D) of South Dakota, high-ranking Democrats have insisted that the Senate not get involved in battles which would force them to vote on gun bans. This concern, coupled with the Smith efforts and GOA’s alerts, was sufficient to stop what would have otherwise been a major setback for pro-Second Amendment forces.

Brady Abuse Cut-off

On the House side, your efforts are beginning to help the Joel Hefley bill gain traction. As you will remember, Rep. Hefley — who is a Republican from Colorado — has introduced H.R. 1460 to keep the FBI from using the Brady instant check to tax and register gun owners. His bill now has 14 cosponsors.

ACTION: So keep asking your Representatives to cosponsor H.R. 1460. You can call your Representatives at 1-877-762-8762 (toll free) or at 202-225-3121. To identify your Representatives, as well as to send a message via e-mail, see the Legislative Action Center at on the GOA website.