Republican Leadership Caves


Tell Your Congressmen to Vote “NO” on the Omnibus Spending Bill

–Republicans gut the Smith amendment; leave little for gun owners to cheer

ACTION: The final version of the omnibus spending bill still contains the gutted version of the Smith amendment. So please contact your Representative and Senators and urge them to vote NO on the “omnibus spending bill” (202-224-3121). A vote has been scheduled for Tuesday. Already, some of the more pro-gun members of Congress have told GOA that they plan to oppose this legislative sellout by the Republican leadership. But other legislators need to hear from the folks back home. In the following statement– delivered to congressional offices today– GOA explains what the gutting of the Smith amendment will mean for law-abiding gun owners.

(GOA letter delivered to Congressional offices today)

Vote AGAINST the Omnibus bill!

— Please don’t “insult” gun owners
(October 16, 1998)

As we reported last week, the budget conference committee has severely gutted the Smith Anti-Tax and Registration language.

This is a major victory for President Clinton and Sarah Brady of Handgun Control, Inc. Ms. Brady’s web page states that the full Smith amendment would have been “an early Christmas present to criminals.” Imagine that! Prohibiting the FBI from registering law-abiding Americans is– in Sarah Brady’s view– a gift to criminals! What an insult to the millions of honest gun owners nationwide.

Unfortunately, the conference committee has placated Ms. Brady and the President. The Smith provision requiring the “immediate destruction” of all gun owners’ names has been deleted. Allowing the FBI to keep gun buyers’ names for 24 hours represents the first time in federal history that government officials would have explicit permission to retain gun owners’ names for a period of time– albeit a brief period.

The conference version has also dropped an extremely important part of the Smith amendment which would include a private cause of action for citizens whose privacy is violated by the FBI. The Smith language allowed aggrieved private citizens to sue the FBI and to collect monetary damages, including attorney’s fees.

Now that this language has been deleted from the bill, it means that gun owners may have to rely upon Janet Reno to rein in FBI officials who illegally retain gun owners’ names– an outrageous scenario. Thus, GOA will rate a vote against the omnibus bill as a pro-gun vote.

Is there any good news for gun owners?

* What about the Smith prohibition on the FBI tax? This part of the Smith amendment did survive in the omnibus spending bill and that is good news. But gun owners should know that they’re still going to have to pay. Because the gun owners’ tax was deleted, Republican leaders increased funding for the FBI instant background check to $42 million dollars. So you’re still going to pay for it– you just won’t see the “tax” until April 15.

* What about efforts to extend the waiting period? Sarah Brady and President Clinton both lobbied hard to extend the waiting period beyond the November 30 deadline. They failed. While this is welcome news, people should not forget this simply means that the status quo will remain in force. Current law dictates that the waiting period must expire on November 30. But the government is still going to screen all gun buyers before they exercise their constitutionally protected rights. Gun buyers are still going to face the threat of government bureaucrats registering their names, now that the “teeth” of the Smith amendment has been deleted. Some on Capitol Hill are touting all of this as a tremendous victory for gun owners. Well, with more victories like these, there won’t be much of a Second Amendment left.