Gun Owners Force Semi-Auto Ban To Finally Sunset

“[GOA’s] lobbying probably torpedoed the best chance for [renewing the semi-auto ban] this year.” — National Journal, 7/17/04

This has been an exciting year, and the GOA staff wants to say “Thank You” for working with us in 2004.

No doubt, the most important work was forcing the semi-auto ban to sunset this year. Reading the quote above, you can see that GOA members and activists like yourself played a HUGE role in realizing that triumph. This was a tremendous victory that has set the anti-gun movement back a decade.

But while this was certainly the most prominent achievement, there were other good news items to celebrate as well. To this end, here are a few of the things that we have accomplished together this year.



As many of the state legislatures are in session during this part of the year, much of GOA’s time was spent on improving your gun rights closer to home.

IN SEVERAL STATES, anti-gun legislators anticipated that the federal ban on semi-autos might sunset, so they tried to enact state versions of the Clinton ban, largely to no great effect. For example, GOA activated its grassroots alert several times in Maryland and was successful in encouraging pro-gun legislators in the state to kill the gun ban.

IN ILLINOIS, GOA helped fan the flames of support for a bill that gives new legal protections to gun owners who use a handgun to shoot home invaders. Lawmakers introduced the bill after the town of Wilmette prosecuted Hale DeMar for using a handgun to shoot a burglar in his home. Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) eventually vetoed the bill, but GOA activists helped persuade their representatives and senators to override the governor’s veto in November!

IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, GOA supporters helped push a Vermont-Alaska style concealed carry bill over the top in the state senate. The bill would allow law-abiding citizens to carry firearms for self-defense without first getting a permit — while still allowing people to get permits if they want reciprocity with other states.

On a surprising note, a New Hampshire lawmaker called GOA headquarters in Virginia with some very disturbing news after the carry bill passed the senate. The lawmaker warned that the sponsor of the carry bill, Sen. Andrew Peterson, was getting “cold feet” and was planning to stab gun owners in the back. Peterson wanted to appease police groups that opposed the legislation, so he tried to kill his own bill by preventing it from going to the state house. When that failed, he attended the House hearings and actually testified against his own bill!

GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA SUBSEQUENTLY PUNISHED the “flip-flopping” Senator during a September primary that he lost by only 268 votes. (GOA helped distribute hundreds upon hundreds of leaflets that detailed Peterson’s treachery to gun owners in the district right before the election.) The winner, Rep. Peter Bragdon, is a committed supporter of Second Amendment rights and a die-hard defender of real concealed carry. This is definitely an issue that GOA would like to revisit in 2005.


AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL, GOA stepped up the assault against an anti-gun education bill this past winter. The bill authorized millions of dollars for anti-gun bureaucrats to train teachers in new history and civics standards that are being mandated by the federal government.

GOA provided its members with postcards opposing the bill, and GOA members responded quickly. Thousands upon thousands of postcards rained down on legislators’ desks, alerting Representatives to serious concerns with the bill. At best, the bill would do nothing to address the existing anti-gun curriculum in the schools. At worst, those problems would be exacerbated.

Representatives listened to you, and many pulled their names from H.R. 1078 — eleven altogether. One Capitol Hill publication noted the tremendous impact that GOA members were having on the bill. The Hill newspaper stated the bill is “not expected to reach the House floor… [which] shows the effect that one influential lobbying group [GOA] can have on legislation.”

While the bill did recently hit the House floor, it did so in an extremely gutted form. The bill’s chances of getting to the President’s desk are still somewhat up in the air at this point, so GOA will continue tracking its status.

ON A MORE EXCITING NOTE, pro-gun forces won a huge victory in March when Senators voted down several gun control restrictions that had been inserted into the gun makers’ protection act.

Senators were being pressed to pass the bill, even though it had been saddled with amendments to effectively abolish gun shows, to renew the semi-auto ban, and to require Americans to “lock up their safety.”

The pressure was on. Senators were given the vague promise that if they voted for these anti-gun provisions, the bill would be “cleaned up” later — but this is a very dangerous strategy which has failed many times in the past.

At the same time, thousands upon thousands of GOA postcards were being dumped on Senators’ desks. The timing could not have been more perfect.

GOA postcards stopped these gun control restrictions — including the Feinstein semi-auto ban — from passing out of the Senate. The postcards made it quite obvious to Senate offices that we were not about to swallow very minimal Second Amendment gains in exchange for gun control. In the words of one Senate staffer, the GOA mail made it clear that “no deals” were acceptable.

“GOA postcards killed the Feinstein ban,” he said, echoing the sentiments of many others on Capitol Hill.

The Senate listened to gun owners and defeated the entire anti-gun package by an overwhelming vote. Gun owners had dodged a bullet.


Even after the defeat of the semi-auto ban in March, Senator Feinstein said that she would look for any and every opportunity to get her gun ban passed.

To combat this, GOA worked hard to get Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to use parliamentary maneuvers to keep gun control amendments from being offered to other bills.

Senator Frist (R-TN) had refused to use those parliamentary techniques when the gun makers’ protection act was being debated in March. He said it couldn’t be done.

Of course, GOA knew that wasn’t true. So we posted the specific details on GOA’s website — at — and documented how Senator Frist can bring up a bill for a vote, while using parliamentary roadblocks that keep antagonistic amendments from being offered.

GOA then asked its members and activists to contact Senator Frist’s office — to make sure he not only read the document, but was prepared to use all the weapons in his arsenal to stop Senator Feinstein.

He listened to you. When Senator Feinstein threatened to attach her gun ban to a legal reform bill, Senator Frist blocked her amendment.

Democrats were furious. They protested the “undemocratic” spirit of Senator Frist. They were very upset they couldn’t offer the gun ban as an amendment.

But Senator Frist stood firm, as he was being encouraged by thousands upon thousands of e-mails and phone calls coming from GOA members.

Listen to what an outraged Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) had to say about Senator Frist’s actions:

I know we have the class action reform bill on the floor of the Senate, but that bill apparently is going nowhere at this moment. My understanding is the majority leader [Frist] has ‘filled the tree,’ which is a fancy way of saying he is blocking everything. He puts a bill down, blocks everything, and creates a little gate in the majority leader’s office saying: Show me your amendment. If I like it, you can offer it; if I don’t, you can’t.

That is where we are. Because of that action, I assume very little is going to happen at the moment. [Source: Congressional Record, July 7, 2004, p. S 7726.]

Because of gun owners like you, Senator Frist had learned how to “block everything” — a strategy that succeeded in killing the Feinstein gun ban.

Grassroots lobbying had won the day in the Senate.


GOA’s focus during these two months narrowed to two main items: the sunset of the semi-auto ban in September and the approaching elections.

Having successfully stopped the gun ban in the Senate, GOA shifted its focus to the House. You guys made the difference, as your postcards and phone calls continually applied the heat to Representatives in the Congress. Because of you, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) was able to say “we don’t have the votes to pass” the semi-auto ban.

They didn’t have the votes because you were holding your Congressmen’s feet to the fire. Thousands upon thousands of letters, e-mails, postcards and phone calls.

GOA ALSO HIT THE AIRWAVES. In September alone, GOA spokesmen appeared in more than 100 radio, TV, newspaper and magazine outlets. Many of these media appearances involved “mano a mano” combat with anti-gun representatives, as the semi-auto ban remained a hot topic.

GOA also alerted its members and supporters to the upcoming vote on repealing the DC gun ban. Gun owners were pleased at the outcome as the House voted to repeal the ban. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate refused to take up the legislation.


Gun Owners of America, through its candidate rating program and political action committee, was able to expose much anti-gun duplicity this year, and the results were extremely heartening.

Altogether, the Gun Owners of America — Political Victory Fund (GOA-PVF) helped 14 pro-gun challengers get elected in the House and Senate. GOA’s general policy is to restrict our support to challengers, since incumbents have obvious advantages in raising money and name ID.

Topping the list of targets was the obstructionist anti-gun Senate Minority Leader, Tom Daschle, who has finally been deposed. Replacing him is former Representative John Thune, a strong pro-gun ally supported by GOA-PVF.

But while ousting Daschle was certainly one of the most crucial races this year, there were six open Senate seats that anti-gunners had their sights set on. GOA-PVF played an important role in thwarting that plan and helping to elect strong pro-gun advocates to five of the six open seats.

GOA Only Succeeds Because of YOU

As a grassroots lobbying organization, the ability of GOA to continue putting pressure on politicians depends on loyal activists like yourself.  Each year, GOA becomes stronger as more activists join the fight.  And that growth is only possible when those who have come before continue their support.

If you haven’t already joined GOA, isn’t it time you did?  If you are already a member, have you renewed for 2005 yet?

The battle to repeal the semi-auto ban was an arduous and expensive battle. And the fight to repeal other gun bans — and to stop new ones from passing — will be expensive as well.

Our e-mail alerts and Legislative Action Center, which are provided free in the interest of adding as many voices as possible to the pro-gun movement, cost tens of thousands of dollars every year.

Please consider adding your financial support in the form of a new membership, renewal, or donation today.

To join, donate or renew online, please visit for secure credit card transactions.

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Thank you for your activism and support of GOA.


Gun Owners of America
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Springfield VA 22151

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