Congress Backs Down In Several Key Battles
What They’re Saying About Gun Owners of America
Senator Bob Smith (R-NH)
Dave Kopel, National Review online
Partial Highlights of Our Accomplishments Together in 2001
* GOA begins a mail, fax and e-mail campaign to repeal part of Bill Clinton’s gun control legacy. Specifically, GOA helps Rep. John Hostettler get as many Congressional signatures as possible onto a letter addressed to HUD Secretary Mel Martinez. The letter asks Secretary Martinez to stop HUD from assisting state and local lawsuits aimed at putting gun makers out of business.
* Rep. Hostettler thanks GOA for its help in getting 99 additional Congressman to sign his letter addressed to HUD Secretary Mel Martinez. GOA activists were crucial in getting these Congressmen to sign the Hostettler letter — so crucial that calls came from many congressional offices asking Gun Owners of America to let up the pressure.
* News reports indicate that Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) will soon be combining their efforts to introduce a gun control “compromise.” GOA begins a huge mail campaign to dissuade Senators from cosponsoring the bill that could very well put gun shows out of existence.
May — June
* Rep. Hostettler informs GOA headquarters of a huge victory for gun owners nationwide. In a letter to the Congressman, Secretary Martinez announces that HUD will “no longer participate” in the effort to cripple gun manufacturers. The battle that began in February is now over after a mere three months.
* GOA learns that several Senators may be offering anti-gun amendments to the education bill. To combat this, GOA begins working with Senator Bob Smith who is poised to offer a provision allowing teachers to carry guns at school. GOA begins issuing several fax and e-mail alerts that result in thousands upon thousands of activists calling their Senators in favor of the Smith “arm the teachers” amendment.
The combined Smith-GOA effort forces anti-gun Democrats to back down, and the education bill passes without any gun control amendments attached. In a letter to GOA, Senator Smith publicly thanks Executive Director Larry Pratt and the members of GOA for their help and adds that, “I look forward to working with you again in the defense of our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”
* Senators McCain and Lieberman introduce their long-awaited, bipartisan gun control bill with three other Senators. GOA had begun a boycott of this legislation back in April, and the hard-working efforts of GOA activists are continuing to bear fruit. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) will become the ONLY Senator to cosponsor S. 890 for the remainder of the year.
* GOA activists respond to fax and e-mail alerts that warn of an impending vote on the Incumbent Protection Act — a bill that will keep groups like GOA from reporting on a candidate’s record during a campaign.
The House of Representatives takes up the bill a couple of days later, only to see it go down in flames. Grassroots opposition from gun groups is a major key in the defeat of the bill. Notably, over the three years this battle has been waged, gun owners have helped slash the number of Republican legislators willing to publicly support Incumbent Protection by almost 70 percent.
* GOA lobbies to defeat anti-gun legislation offered by Virginia Democrat James Moran. Thousands of GOA members and activists bombarded the Congress with phone calls, faxes and e-mails after GOA alerted them to the Moran amendment. The provision, which would have let the FBI keep the names of gun buyers for at least 90 days, was shot down in the House by an overwhelming vote of 268-161.
* In the wake of the terrorist skyjackings on September 11, Gun Owners of America begins lobbying Congress to allow guns on airplanes for the defense of the crew and passengers.
* Initial prospects for passing an “armed pilots” amendment look dim. Opposition to the idea is mounting from several key areas: FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, President Bush and the Air Line Pilots Association. (ALPA eventually made a 180-degree turn after thousands of pilots — many of them GOA members — began contacting the union leaders.)
* GOA provides Talking Points for Senators that explain why they should oppose efforts by Sen. John McCain to limit pilots to only stun guns — otherwise known as “toy guns.”
* Thanks to the tremendous outpouring of support from the grassroots — and to the hard work of Senator Bob Smith — the Senate rejects McCain’s toy gun amendment and passes a real gun provision by Unanimous Consent.
* GOA shifts its attention to the House of Representatives, which passes a similar provision as part of the aviation security bill three weeks later.
* GOA quickly responds when Sen. John McCain tries a last-ditch effort to torpedo the armed pilots provision in conference. Gun Owners of America successfully urges the conferees to reject McCain’s “toy gun” alternative and to keep the language arming pilots with REAL guns — a provision that will truly protect airline pilots and passengers.
* On November 19, President Bush signs the armed pilots provision into law.
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