Semi-auto Ban Could Be Added To Gun Liability Bill

Feinstein Gun Ban Could Come up in the Senate Soon

While the big news of the day is President Bush’s pick for the Supreme Court (more on this below), Gun Owners of America is hearing rumblings that the Senate will soon be considering legislation to slow down the number of frivolous lawsuits against gun makers.

Although GOA is supportive of this legislation, S. 397, we must remember that anti-gun Senators used this legislation last year to load it up with all kinds of anti-gun riders — things like gun show restrictions, semi-auto bans and more.

In the end, pro-gun supporters were forced to vote against (and kill) the lawsuit protection bill in order to defeat the anti-gun amendments.

GOA told Majority Leader Bill Frist that all of this could have been avoided if he used certain parliamentary maneuvers to keep Senator Dianne Feinstein from offering her gun ban amendment to the bill. Later, when she tried to attach the semi-auto ban to another bill, GOA asked you to contact Frist and urge him to use those parliamentary procedures.

Well, he did. And it worked. Feinstein & Co. were furious that Frist was acting in such an “undemocratic” fashion. They railed against Frist and the Republican leadership. But we escaped without getting ANY new gun restrictions. (You can read about this victory by going to on the GOA website.)

Fast forward one year. Some Republicans have seemingly forgotten this key success from last year, and seem willing to allow Sen. Feinstein to offer gun control legislation to the gun makers’ protection act.

The Washington Post reported last week that Sen. Feinstein is looking to offer a gun ban when the lawsuit protection bill comes up for a vote in the next couple of weeks. Feinstein said she “would try to limit sales of powerful 50 caliber weapons so that they could only be sold through federally licensed dealers, not at gun shows.”

Unfortunately, rather than repeating a proven strategy for success, Senate Republicans are reportedly adopting a VERY DANGEROUS plan. In fact, they would be going down the same road that gave us both the semi-auto ban and the McCain-Feingold incumbent protection act.

The Post quotes Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) as saying that the “strategy this time would not be to dump the bill but remove anything objectionable in conference with the House of Representatives.”

OK, there are two problems with this strategy. First, they don’t need to “dump” the bill. Why not just use the parliamentary procedures (described at on the GOA website) which would prevent — and have prevented in the past — anti-gun amendments from even being offered in the first place?

Second, it’s very dangerous to ask Senators to vote for gun control legislation, on the promise that it will be killed later on. You wouldn’t try this approach out in the woods. When is the best time to kill a poisonous snake? Answer: the first chance you get. The longer you let it live, the better chance it has to bite you.

This is exactly what happened in 2002, when many senators voted for the McCain-Feingold restrictions on free speech, based on the assumption that the conference committee would clean up the bill later and the Supreme Court would overturn it.

Gun owners are now well aware that the conference committee never cleaned up the McCain-Feingold incumbent protection bill, and draconian restrictions on the ability of Gun Owners to inform people of their legislators’ anti-gun records went to the President’s desk.

President Bush then signed the bill, also relying on the presumption that the Supreme Court would strike down unconstitutional provisions that were in it.

Well, wrong again. The Supreme Court upheld the restrictions in December, 2003.

This is also the SAME FAILED STRATEGY that gave us the semi-auto ban. Pro-gun Senators refused to filibuster the semi-auto ban — when Senator Feinstein offered it as an amendment to the crime bill in November of 1993 — arguing that they would remove the language in conference! Sound familiar?

The ban survived the conference committee and was happily signed into law by President Clinton. Were it not for the sunset provision, the semi-auto ban would still be the law of the land.

Remember, you always kill a poisonous snake the first chance you get. One can only assume that a conference committee will “take care of the problem” if one ignores the determination of Ted Kennedy, Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer.


Bush Makes Supreme Court Nomination

As you know, President Bush has nominated Judge John G. Roberts, Jr., to replace the retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Roberts served as the deputy solicitor general in the Bush I administration and has briefly served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. In all candor, not much is known about this “stealth candidate.” There are indications that he believes in judicial restraint, but there is really not much of a paper trail — especially regarding the Second Amendment — to be sure of his approach to the Constitution.

On the one hand, choosing stealth candidates has given us bad judges like David Souter. Ann Coulter is certainly a notable conservative who is out front, leading the charge against any such stealth nominee. On the other hand, choosing a candidate who does not have a paper trail could be a brilliant strategy to prevent him from being “Borked.”

All of this to say, Gun Owners of America will be looking forward to the nomination hearings with great anticipation. Please stay tuned.