1998 “Hatch’s Horror” Bill Dies In U.S. Senate

Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH): “Your leadership was essential in marshalling the grassroots support in favor of [my] amendment. When it really counted and I needed help, Gun Owners of America was there fighting for my amendment…. I could never have done this without your help!” 

Legal Times (3/2/98): “Using a sophisticated Web site, the Gun Owners of America has mounted a massive lobbying campaign to mobilize its 200,000 members, focusing on conservative Republicans who were among [S. 10’s] Senate cosponsors…. [Gun Owners of America’s] unwavering opposition to gun ownership restrictions makes the National Rifle Association look like a liberal interest group.”

The Hill (3/4/98): “[Sen. Jeff] Sessions’ Press Secretary John Cox noted that ‘the Gun Owners of America generated a significant number of postcards’ registering complaints about the bill [S. 10].”

Las Vegas Review-Journal (2/8/98): “Congressman Ron Paul [R-TX] has called Gun Owners of America ‘the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington.’ … If Gun Owners of America sold stock, I’d be buying.” — Vin Suprynowicz, assistant editorial page editor of the Journal

Partial Highlights of Our Accomplishments Together in 1998– Keep this for reference and show it to your pro-gun friends

* In 1997, the pressure from GOA and activists resulted in two Senators removing their names from Hatch’s Horror Bill (S. 10). As the new year dawns, GOA reports that a third senator– Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT)– is jumping off the bill.

* Mail, fax and email alerts increase the pressure on the remaining cosponsors of S. 10.

* Some cosponsors of S. 10 are telling constituents there are no problems in Hatch’s Horror Bill. In response, GOA gives Talking Points to the grassroots to counter the “Senatorial Snake Oil.” * On the semi-auto issue, GOA submits comments blasting the President and BATF for ruling that several (previously allowable) semi-automatic firearms are now banned from importation. * GOA Executive Director, Larry Pratt, debates Sarah Brady’s right-hand man, Bob Walker, on Fox TV over the issue of the import ban.

* GOA mails its members, asking them to petition Sen. Smith to put a “hold” on S. 10.

* Another Senate cosponsor of S. 10– Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY)– puts Hatch on notice that the bill had better be fixed, or else he (Enzi) will drop his name as a cosponsor.

* GOA announces that Sen. Smith, responding to thousands of petitions from GOA members, has placed a “hold” on Hatch’s Horror Bill. This parliamentary procedure has the effect of slowing down the legislation.

* US News & World Report analyzes GOA’s opposition to Hatch’s bill and notes that the bill is “running into trouble.” The magazine approvingly underscores GOA’s description of the bill, telling readers that S. 10 is “Hatch’s Horror Bill.”

* The Legal Times follows with its own story– this one praising the work of GOA members in getting several Senators to distance themselves from S. 10.

* In Georgia, a “Lock Up Your Safety” bill (SB 407) is defeated by relentless grassroots action throughout the month.

* Nationwide, the media shifts its focus to the Jonesboro schoolyard shooting. GOA spokesmen hit the airwaves to defend gun owners’ rights in the aftermath of the tragedy.

* Despite media distractions, GOA keeps pounding away at Hatch’s bill. Grassroots pressure convinces another Senator– Craig Thomas (R-WY)– to jump off the sinking S. 10.

* Grassroots activists score another victory as two more Senators remove their names from S. 10– Senators Larry Craig (ID) and Michael Enzi (WY).

* GOA then targets Rep. Ron Paul’s Brady repeal (H.R. 2721) in the House. Faxes and e-mails are sent out to local activists, asking them to urge their Reps. to cosponsor the Paul bill.

* Four days later, the first cosponsors start signing onto the full Brady repeal.

* And on a similar issue, gun owners win big in Alabama, as GOA members and activists defeat the NRA Instant “Registration” Check in the state Senate.

* Another Instant Check bill runs into trouble in South Carolina. Gun owners keep the bill from getting out of committee– but in September Gov. Beasley does by executive fiat what compromisers fail to do in the legislature (and pays the price at the polls).

* Kentucky emerges a winner as a stalled concealed carry improvement bill passes overwhelmingly when activists respond to GOA alerts in droves. Kentucky is now a true recognition state: concealed carry permits from every other state are valid in the Bluegrass State.

* Back in Washington, DC, Rod Grams (R-MN) becomes the 7th Senator to jump off S. 10.

* Meanwhile, GOA rolls out another barrage of fax and e-mail alerts in support of Paul’s Brady repeal (H.R. 2721). More cosponsors sign onto Paul’s bill as a result.

* GOA then turns up the pressure on “waffling” legislators. GOA issues a list of Representatives who, during their prior election campaign, had previously pledged to cosponsor the Brady repeal. * Activists flood the Capitol with mail; several “wafflers” sign on to Paul’s repeal bill.

* GOA submits testimony in the House of Representatives, arguing that the Brady Instant “Registration” Law must be completely repealed. Larry Pratt’s testimony calls on the Judiciary Committee to bring up Ron Paul’s repeal bill for a vote.

* Back over in the Senate, Hatch calls a press conference to “jump start” his fledgling crime bill. GOA meets with the staff of Hatch and Sessions to review revisions to S. 10– and determines the bill is still unacceptable.

* At the same time, GOA starts planning a strategy with Sen. Smith to push an “Anti-Brady” amendment that will keep the FBI from taxing and registering gun purchasers.

* GOA provides its members with postcards in favor of the Smith “Anti-Brady” amendment.

* Anti-gun South Carolina legislators, scorched during the April Instant Check fight, don’t stand a chance when GOA activists return to defeat a “Lock Up Your Safety” bill.

* July 21st NEWS FLASH! The Smith “Anti-Brady” amendment is going to the floor. GOA lights up the electronic world with an urgent alert calling on activists to put some last minute “heat” on their Senators in favor of the amendment. Gun owners respond tremendously; the Smith amendment passes with a veto-proof majority.

* July 28th– Smith publicly thanks GOA and its members for their work in pushing his amendment. The Hill newspaper credits GOA and its activists for blanketing Capitol Hill with grassroots phone calls and letters right before the vote.

* Congress is in recess for the greater part of this month. GOA wastes no time going into the districts of key Appropriation Committee members who will decide the fate of the Smith amendment. GOA generates a mountain of “grassroots postcards” back into Washington.

* In the press, the President publicly berates the work of GOA and takes issue with the “Anti-Brady amendment.” Clinton promises to veto any bill that contains the Smith provision.

* Gun Owners of America and its active membership continue lobbying to get the Smith amendment included in the final budget bill over the President’s objections.

* In the Senate, GOA learns that Sen. Hatch is trying to bring S. 10 to a vote. GOA issues a fax and email alert, asking people to urge Sen. Smith to use every parliamentary procedure possible to keep S. 10 from coming to a vote.

* Two days later, Sen. Hatch vents his anger at Sen. Smith. Smith, heeding gun owners’ concerns, is using a parliamentary procedure to prevent a “Unanimous Consent” agreement that would allow Hatch to bring up S. 10 for a vote. S. 10 dies as a result.

* GOA members and activists continue lobbying for the Smith “Anti-Brady” amendment.

* October 21– The Smith “Anti-Brady” amendment becomes law. Much of the provision has been watered down, but the ban on FBI taxing of gun purchases survives.

If You’re not yet a GOA Member, is it Time You Become One?

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November 20, 1998

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