07/98 “Anti-Brady” Amendment Passes Senate

Smith “Anti-Brady” Amendment Passes the Senate 69-31!
— Hats off to GOA members and activists for their tremendous efforts!

by Gun Owners of America
8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151
(Wednesday, July 22, 1998)

As we told you to expect, Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH) introduced his “Anti-Brady” amendment as a rider to the State- Justice-Commerce Appropriations bill (S. 2260) yesterday. The amendment passed overwhelmingly, and, unless it’s stripped out in a conference committee, the amendment should become law later this year!

The Smith amendment would do three things. As explained by Smith himself yesterday:

Stated simply, my legislation will put a stop to the FBI’s plan to keep records of private identifying information on law-abiding citizens who buy guns. . . . Why would we want the FBI to maintain a file on a law-abiding gun owner who did nothing [except] exercise his constitutional right to own a gun? They want 18 months to keep these files. I don’t want 18 seconds. I want these files destroyed immediately. That is point one in my amendment. . . . Secondly, the amendment prevents the FBI from imposing a tax on these people. Thirdly, it allows a person to go to court if the FBI does that. We have seen abuses by the FBI. We have seen files held in the White House. Do you want this to go on? That is what this issue is about. That is what my amendment is about.

Members and activists of Gun Owners of America deserve a lot of credit for this victory. Smith’s staff has told GOA that during the past month, they have seen boxes of postcards come in to the Senate in favor of his amendment. Your other contacts were also helpful in overcoming some institutional opposition in the Senate.

High-level Senate sources reported that NRA lobbyists were “camped out” in the Senate cloakroom, pushing an alternative to the Smith amendment. They were concerned that Smith’s amendment was too tough and that it didn’t have enough votes to pass. But despite these objections, your grassroots efforts prevailed!

Indeed, Senator Smith’s amendment is tougher than other bills that try to stop the FBI from registering gun owners. Smith’s proviso actually allows individuals to “punish” the FBI by suing them for any infringement of privacy (i.e., gun owner registration), and then recover all the attorney’s fees that one spends on the lawsuit.

Strange coalition forms to back Smith amendment

Sen. Smith’s amendment would, obviously, benefit gun owners first and foremost. But Sen. Smith also appealed to those Democrats who were interested in the issue of privacy. “This is more than a gun issue,” he told his colleagues. “This is a privacy issue [as well].”

The privacy issue can often cut across party lines. Some liberal, Democratic Senators voted with Smith purely because of the privacy implications. And thus, Smith was able to garner a filibuster-proof and veto-proof majority. To make matters simpler, we have listed the 31 “bad” Senators who voted AGAINST Smith:

Akaka (HI)           Kohl (WI)
Biden (DE) Landrieu (LA)
Boxer (CA) Lautenberg (NJ)
Bryan (NV) Levin (MI)
Bumpers (AR) Lieberman (CT)
Byrd (WV) Mikulski (MD)
Cleland (GA) Moseley-Braun (IL)
Dodd (CT) Moynihan (NY)
Durbin (IL) Reed (RI)
Feinstein (CA) Robb (VA)
Ford (KY) Sarbanes (MD)
Glenn (OH) Torricelli (NJ)
Graham (FL) Wellstone (MN)
Harkin (IA) Wyden (OR)
Inouye (HI)
Kennedy (MA)
Kerry (MA)

Fight moves to the House

The House version of the Commerce-State-Justice appropriation bill will be coming up for a vote soon. GOA will keep you updated on our efforts to attach a Smith-type amendment on the House bill. Doing so would help guarantee that a House- Senate conference committee will not strip the amendment from the bill. Please stay tuned.