S. 254 To Stay In Conference Through Recess
The Battle For Our Gun Rights Ain’t Over Yet
— Keep up the fight; press reports say gun bill is far from being a ‘done deal’
(Friday, August 6, 1999) — Gun grabbers on Capitol Hill pushed hard to bring the anti-gun crime bill out of the conference committee this week, but to no avail. Further action on the crime bill has been put off until after the August recess, meaning gun owners should contact legislators in their home districts over the next month.
You can find their district phone numbers in the government pages of your phone book. If you wish to contact them in Washington, the phone number is 202-224-3121, or you can reach them toll-free at 1-888-449-3511. (Here’s a tip: You can use the toll-free number to get your legislator’s district phone number.)
Reinforce the message: gun control is NOT acceptable; gun control is NOT crime control.
While the gun control bill (S. 254) has continued to inch forward this year, activists should be encouraged by some of the partial victories that were achieved. For example, after the Senate passed fresh gun restrictions in May, gun owners successfully lobbied House members to defeat similar language the following month.
Grassroots Activism Vital To June Victory. The grassroots outpouring from gun owners was crucial to the victory won in the House in June. The Washington Times reported that while the White House was twisting arms before the House vote, grassroots pressure was able to overcome it. Consider just one example that was printed in the Times:
Clinton administration operatives went to [Rep. Baron P. Hill of Indiana] and told him they had done a survey in his district that showed an overwhelming majority– 77 percent to 23 percent– supported the gun control legislation. However, Mr. Hill pointed out to them that… his office had received more than 1,100 phone calls against gun control and only a “half dozen or a dozen” in favor. In the end, Mr. Hill joined a substantial number of Democrats who helped block gun-control legislation passed by the Senate.
Of course, after this initial victory, the Clinton-Gore team fought back and won a key skirmish last week in both chambers of the Congress. First, the Senate cut off a Smith filibuster of the anti-gun crime bill and appointed members to a Senate conference committee (see http://www.gunowners.org/106svote.htm for vote details). Then the House appointed its own conferees last Friday, and even supported a non-binding anti-gun motion by a whopping 305-84 margin.
That (non-binding) motion, introduced by anti-gun Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), recommended that the crime conference committee require that background checks be conducted on all firearms sales at gun shows. Furthermore, the Conyers motion asked conferees to not include any measure that would weaken the effectiveness of background checks currently conducted or include any measure that would weaken or eliminate any other provision of Federal firearms law or regulation. Activists can find this vote at http://www.gunowners.org/106hvote.htm on the GOA website.
Just Blowin’ In The Wind. Many representatives, no doubt, are like reeds blowing in the wind. When the pressure is on, they vote fine. But when the calls die down, they think that no one is looking.
Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, reported on June 23 that while many offices got deluged with faxes, emails, postcards, and letters, “reports of constituent calls on gun legislation [in some offices] were low. ‘Very quiet,’ said Jennifer Rich, press secretary for Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.). ‘Absolutely zippo,’ agreed Kathie Eastman, press secretary for Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.).” [Georgia and Oregon activists take note!]
New York Times Reports “Stalemate” On The Gun Show Provision. Despite the news from last week, all is not going well for gun control supporters. On the left, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is threatening to filibuster the crime bill if the conference committee kicks the bill out with insufficient gun control in it. On the right, Sen. Bob Smith (I-NH) has pledged to filibuster the bill if it has ANY gun control in it. Press reports indicate there are “wide differences” on gun restrictions in the conference committee. As a result, no agreement by the conferees (and thus, no vote on the floors of the House and Senate) is expected until after the August recess. Please stay tuned for further news, as GOA will continue lobbying this issue over the break, and will update you with additional action items when Congress returns to Washington in September.
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