12/00 2000: The Year in Review

GOA members dodge a bullet this year after hard work kills gun control

by Erich Pratt

It was supposed to be a done deal.

“Accord near on gun bill,” one headline blared on September 24, 1999.

Negotiators are “close to agreement,” opined the Associated Press. New gun controls were imminent.

Indeed, many people thought the “fix” was in.

“Members of Congress work in dread of receiving the hundreds, even thousands, of postcards, letters, and phone calls…. When Senator Patrick Leahy [D-VT] voted in favor of a relatively minor piece of gun-control legislation, ‘we got hundreds of postcards overnight,’ said a Leahy aide.” — Boston Globe, 8/7/00

Gun owners were facing new gun bans, gun owner registration and self-defense restrictions. Supposedly, there was nothing we could do.

Some gun owners were even suggesting that we agree to gun control “lite” to minimize the damage.

The media, those in Congress and the White House — all of them agreed that something was going to pass.

Well, that was September, 1999.

More than a year later, those same experts were pronouncing the gun bill dead.

What happened?

What happened was that Capitol Hill felt the power of the grassroots.

GOA members unleashed a torrent of postcards and letters upon Capitol Hill. Legislators were flooded with complaint after complaint.

Legislative offices told Roll Call, the newspaper of record on Capitol Hill, that the collective voice of GOA members was quite loud.

“Gun Owners [of America] is… much more active. They moved quickly and we heard from their people,” said one House leadership source close to the juvenile crime issue.

The victory over the anti-gun juvenile bill has clearly demonstrated the power that committed gun owners can have upon legislation in Congress.

There is no need to retreat in the face of our opponents. We don’t need to offer gun control “lite” as an alternative to the latest gun ban that Sen. Chuck Schumer wants.

We don’t need to compromise; we just need to organize.

And that we did. Gun owners won big with the defeat of the anti-gun juvenile bill.

We won big with the passage of Rep. John Hostettler’s “gun owners protection act,” and with the defeat of several anti-gun measures. (See article below.)

This year’s success gives us hope for next year. We want to press forward for even more victories.

GOA will fight for concealed carry reciprocity. We will work to pass the Citizen’s Self-defense Act.

We want to put an end to the frivolous lawsuits against the gun industry — lawsuits that threaten to put an end to the buying and selling of guns in this country.

It is going to be a tough two years. But with your help, GOA will fight for these things.

With your help, GOA will battle the compromisers who want to concede to gun bans at gun shows, to register private sales, and to impose anti-safety devices upon every handgun owner.

With your help, GOA will stand against the media pundits who will beat the drums for more and more draconian restrictions.

GOA can do a lot with your help. But we need you to stand with us.

Thank you for supporting Gun Owners of America and making us your gun lobby.

2000 Elections: Where Do We Stand?

by John Velleco

The cliffhanger 2000 election is finally over, but how did gun owners fare where the battle over gun rights is most fiercely fought — in the U.S. House and Senate?

In the Senate, private gun ownership of firearms will be under attack as never before.

With the addition of Senator Hillary Clinton, who joins the notoriously anti-gun Sen. Chuck Schumer as the junior senator from New York, gun owners can expect to see a flurry of anti-gun bills introduced from the opening gate.

Together with Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), who has promised to reintroduce his draconian handgun registration bill, the trio will undoubtedly set the civilian disarmament agenda for the next several years.

Due to the complex rules of the Senate, one senator can bring the chamber to a halt in order to force votes on a specific agenda, something Sens. Clinton, Schumer and Reed will not hesitate to do.

With the Senate basically split down the middle, conservative pro-gun Republicans will be called upon to mount numerous filibusters to fight the anti-gun agenda.

Newly elected Sen. Hillary Clinton, with Sen. Charles Schumer, will immediately become an influential anti-gun leader.
An unusually large number of hotly contested senate races kept many gun owners on the edge of their seats on election night.

Pro-gun Senate forces suffered a setback with the defeat of pro-gun Sen. Rod Grams (R-MN), but the election of Republican Sen. John Ensign in Nevada was a marginal gain. As a House member, Ensign was rated “B” by GOA’s stringent rating system.

One Senate victory for gun rights was the narrow reelection of pro-gun Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT).

The defeat of Sen. Spence Abraham (R-MI) could hardly been seen as a defeat for gun owners, given that his atrocious voting record on gun bills in the Senate.

In Florida, while many gun owners reportedly voted for Senate candidate Bill McCollum (R), Second Amendment supporters should not consider his defeat a loss for gun rights.

As a U.S. House member, McCollum was the leading Republican pushing for background checks, the federalization of gun crimes, increased government snooping without warrants, and many other forms of gun control.

It remains to be seen what effect the narrow defeat of “C-” rated John Ashcroft in Missouri to the deceased “F” rated Mel Carnahan will have for gun owners, assuming the Senate violates the Constitution and allows the election to stand even though the candidate was not an inhabitant of the state (Art. 1, Sec 3).

All in all, the Senate is in considerably worse shape for gun rights, in large part due to the election of the high profile First Lady.

Gun owners will have to keep an eye out for any signs of the Senate leadership moving to the distinctly anti-gun moderate middle.

Little Change in U.S. House

The greatest threat to the Second Amendment in this Congress will definitely be the push for “reasonable” gun control that can sway just enough pro-gun compromisers.

In the U.S. House, while Democrats picked up a few seats, there really was not much ideological change on gun rights.

For example, in the much-watched California district 27, “F” rated incumbent James Rogan was defeated by “F” rated Adam Schiff.

The pro-gun former Lieutenant Governor of Idaho, Butch Otter (R), replaced retiring pro-gun Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R).

In Oklahoma 2, while gun owners clearly suffered a setback with the retirement of strong Second Amendment supporter Rep. Tom Coburn (R), both candidates who sought to replace him were at least moderately pro-gun.

The same could be said of the two candidates in Michigan 8, in the race to replace now-Senator Debbie Stabenow. The Republican won that race, but both candidates had the support of gun owners in the district.

There are many other districts that will have a new face in Washington, but there is very little shift one way or the other in terms of gun rights.

More important for gun owners are the races in which there was no change.

Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), by far the strongest supporter of gun rights in the leadership, will remain as Majority Whip.

Pro-gun Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN) won reelection handily, in spite of the efforts of a well-financed, supposedly pro-gun candidate.

It is anticipated that Rep. Hostettler will pick up where he left off in his effort to dismantle the atrocious deal cut between Smith & Wesson and the Clinton Administration.

Pro-gun Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), sponsor of several pro-gun bills in the last Congress, also won reelection by a wide margin despite being high on the Democrat’s target list.

While the House has not shifted against gun rights as decidedly as the Senate, gun owners can look forward to incredible pressure for both parties to compromise away the Second Amendment.

GOA On The Front Lines Defending Your Rights!

GOA’s Erich Pratt appears on NBC’s Today show early this year to blast the Clinton administration for its continued war on the makers of America’s firearms. In a similar fight, GOA activists won a key battle when they helped kill an anti-gun Schumer amendment that threatened to put gun makers out of business. The provision would have helped the cities bringing suit against gun makers by preventing them from declaring legitimate bankruptcy, and thus, discharging any enormous judgments that result from frivolous lawsuits.

During the post-Columbine hysteria, GOA’s Larry Pratt (pictured to the left of NBC’s Tom Brokaw who is standing) debated Vice-President Al Gore at a nationally-televised town meeting held in New Jersey. Pratt argued that concealed handguns in the hands of honest Americans can help avert mass shootings. Gore is pictured on the TV screen to the left.

GOA Executive Director Larry Pratt defends gun owners’ rights on NBC’s Today show this year while answering a question from hostess Katie Couric.

GOA spokesman John Velleco (right) rebuts HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo on CNN live. The Clinton administration cut a horrendous deal with Smith & Wesson in March that imposes new restrictions on gun buyers and dealers. GOA subsequently pushed a “gun owners protection act”–offered by Rep. John Hostettler of Indiana–which helps ensure that other gun makers will not join Smith & Wesson in selling out gun owners.

GOA members put intense pressure on Utah Senator Orrin Hatch (right) to change his position and stop supporting the anti-gun juvenile bill. After thousands upon thousands of postcards, letters and telephone calls, Sen. Hatch finally “saw the light.” President Clinton later lamented the fact that Sen. Hatch had changed his tune, noting that “there’s so much pressure on Senator Hatch not to call a meeting” to pass the anti-gun juvenile bill.

Holding a letter from GOA in her hand, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) attacks the organization on the floor of the Senate in March after GOA refused to support her gun control “compromise.” Boxer’s anti-gun amendment subsequently failed by one vote.

GOA head Larry Pratt debates one of the chief proponents of the anti-gun juvenile crime bill, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (R-NY). After months and months of grassroots pressure from GOA members this year, almost 50 Representatives and Senators switched their votes away from their previous support for the anti-gun bill. The massive defections helped doom the gun bill’s chances of passing.

Shouldn’t we repeal the gun laws… if it’ll save a single child?

By Vin Suprynowicz Jessica Lynne Carpenter is 14 years old.

She knows how to shoot; her father taught her.

And there were adequate firearms to deal with the crisis that arose in the Carpenter home in Merced, Calif. — a San Joaquin Valley farming community 130 miles southeast of San Francisco — when 27-year-old Jonathon David Bruce came calling on Wednesday morning, Aug. 23.

There was just one problem.

Under the new “safe storage” laws being enacted in California and elsewhere, parents can be held criminally liable unless they lock up their guns when their children are home alone… so that’s just what law-abiding parents John and Tephanie Carpenter had done.

Some of Jessica’s siblings — Anna, 13; Vanessa, 11; Ashley, 9; and John William, 7 — were still in their bedrooms when Bruce broke into the farmhouse shortly after 9 a.m.

Bruce, who was armed with a pitchfork — but to whom police remain unable to attribute any motive — had apparently cut the phone lines.

9-1-1 doesn’t always work

So when he forced his way into the house and began stabbing the younger children in their beds, Jessica’s attempts to dial 9-1-1 didn’t do much good.

Next, the sensible girl ran for where the family guns were stored. But they were locked up tight.

“When the 14-year-old girl ran to a nearby house to escape the pitchfork-wielding man attacking her siblings,” writes Kimi Yoshino of the Fresno Bee, “she didn’t ask her neighbor to call 9-1-1.

She begged him to grab his rifle and ‘take care of this guy.'”

He didn’t. Jessica ended up on the phone.

By the time Merced County sheriff’s deputies arrived at the home, 7-year-old John William and 9-year-old Ashley Danielle were dead. Ashley had apparently hung onto her assailant’s leg long enough for her older sisters to escape. Thirteen-year-old Anna was wounded but survived.

Once the deputies arrived, Bruce rushed them with his bloody pitchfork. So they shot him dead. They shot him more than a dozen times. With their guns.

Get it?

“Safe storage laws” led to children’s deaths

The following Friday, the children’s great-uncle, the Rev. John Hilton, told reporters: “If only (Jessica) had a gun available to her, she could have stopped the whole thing. If she had been properly armed, she could have stopped him in his tracks.”

Maybe John William and Ashley would still be alive, Jessica’s uncle said.

“Unfortunately, 17 states now have these so-called safe storage laws,” replies Yale Law School Senior Research Scholar Dr. John Lott — author of the book More Guns, Less Crime.

“The problem is, you see no decrease in either juvenile accidental gun deaths or suicides when such laws are enacted, but you do see an increase in crime rates.”

Such laws are based on the notion that young children often “find daddy’s gun” and accidentally shoot each other.

But in fact only five American children under the age of 10 died of accidents involving handguns in 1997, Lott reports. “People get the impression that kids under 10 are killing each other. In fact this is very rare: three to four per year.”

The typical shooter in an accidental child gun death is a male in his late teens or 20s, who, statistically, is probably a drug addict or an alcoholic and has already been charged with multiple crimes, Lott reports. “These are the data that correlate. Are these the kind of people who are going to obey one more law?”

Media ignores the truth about guns and self-defense

So why doesn’t the national press report what happens when a victim disarmament (“gun control”) law costs the lives of innocent children in a place like Merced?

“In the school shooting in Pearl, Miss.,” Dr. Lott replies, “the assistant principal had formerly carried a gun to school. When the 1995 (“Gun-Free School Zones”) law passed, he took to locking his gun in his car and parking it at least a quarter-mile away from the school, in order to obey the law.

“When that shooting incident started he ran to his car, unlocked it, got his gun, ran back, disarmed the shooter and held him on the ground for five minutes until the police arrived.

“There were more than 700 newspaper stories catalogued on that incident. Only 19 mentioned the assistant principal in any way, and only nine mentioned that he had a gun.”

Building a straw man

The press covers only the bad side of gun use, and only the potential benefits of victim disarmament laws — never their costs.

“Basically all the current federal proposals fall into this category — trigger locks, waiting periods,” Lott said.

“There’s not one academic study that shows any reduction in crime from measures like these. But there are good studies that show the opposite. Even with short waiting periods, crime goes up. You have women being stalked, and they can’t go quickly and get a gun due to the waiting periods, so they get assaulted or they get killed.”

The United States has among the world’s lowest “hot” burglary rates — burglaries committed while people are in the building — at 13 percent, compared to “gun-free” Britain’s rate, which is now up to 59 percent, Lott reports.

“If you survey burglars, American burglars spend at least twice as long casing a joint before they break in…. The number one reason they give for taking so much time is: They’re afraid of getting shot.”

The way Jonathon David Bruce, of Merced, Calif., might once have been afraid of getting shot… before 17 states enacted laws requiring American parents to leave their kids disarmed while they’re away from home.

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and editor of Financial Privacy Report. His book, Send in the Waco Killers: Essays on the Freedom Movement, 1993-1998, is available by dialing 1-800-417-1486; or via web site http://www.gunowners.com/bookst.htm.

What They’re Saying About GOA

Rep. John Hostettler, (R-IN)

“Gun Owners of America is the pit bull of the Second Amendment. They are relentless and never give any ground whatsoever to the gun grabbers.”

Retiring Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-ID)

“GOA is close to standing alone in Washington. They do not tell their members one thing and do another inside the beltway. They are tough and they don’t give up.”

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)

“GOA is the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington.”

Roll Call, the newspaper of record on Capitol Hill:

“Gun Owners of America is considered the most aggressive pro-gun lobbying organization.”

Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC)

“Let me reiterate my deep appreciation for the tremendous job being done by Gun Owners of America in the battle to defend America’s right to keep and bear arms. There is no question that without G.O.A., American gun rights would be in even greater peril today.”

Doctors Against Guns

by Larry Pratt

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has embarked on a strident campaign against gun ownership.

In an article appearing last year in the Medical Sentinel published by the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Timothy Wheeler explained what the AAP is fostering among its members. (Medical Sentinel’s web site is www.haciendapub.com. The editor, Miguel Faria, has run several pro-gun articles over the years.)

The AAP is urging each of its member pediatricians to pry into the private lives of their patients and ask if they have guns in the home.

The pediatrician is urged to push on their patients the “gun safety instruction” patient materials the AAP adopted from Handgun Control, Inc. Since 76 percent of the pediatricians responding to an AAP survey support a ban on handguns, many parents are likely to encounter one of these physicians with their disarming manners.

Dr. Wheeler explains that this prying behavior is a boundary violation the same as doctor-patient sex. In other words, it is a violation of physician ethics.

That means that there is something you can do about such a doctor (besides walking out immediately). An aggrieved patient can go to the Yellow Pages and find the phone number of the state Medical Society and file a complaint.

The doctor may be exonerated, but it may also reduce his ardor to confuse medicine with propaganda. And if several patients file complaints, the number alone could endanger his license to practice.

Keep in mind that the AAP is involved in a shameless exercise of blame shifting. Physicians kill, according to the Harvard Medical School, 98,000 patients a year through malpractice. We are nine times as likely to be killed by our doctor than someone murdering us with a gun.

Spread the word to parents who have children under the care of pediatricians.

Report Shows Doctors More Deadly than Guns

Causes							Deaths

1. Heart disease 733,361
2. Cancer 539,533
3. Stroke 159,942
4. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 106,027
5. Medical mistakes 98,000
6. Accidents 94,948
7. Pneumonia & the flu 83,727
8. Diabetes 61,767
9. Motor-vehicle 43,649
10. Firearms 33,750

Figures for medical mistakes are taken from the Institute of Medicine, which is a division of the National Academy of Sciences. Estimates from the Institute of Medicine range from 44,000 to 98,000 deaths per year. (See “Medical Errors Blamed for Many Deaths; as many as 98,000 a year in U.S. linked to mistakes,” The Washington Post, 11/30/99.) Other figures in the table are from the National Safety Council (1999).

Defense Department Blocked From Gun Confiscation

by Larry Pratt

It’s nice to be able to report a battle with a happy ending. Had we lost, the consequences would have been catastrophic.

Defense Department authorization bills are not likely places to look for gun control, but that’s where a monster gun grab had been tucked away.

Supposedly the problem to be solved was an attempt to close the barn door after the horse was out. Namely, the administration allowed the sale of a fighter plane assembly line to the Communist regime of mainland China.

The “solution” involved using a wrecking ball to kill a bug. The Defense Department would have been authorized to confiscate and destroy any military surplus item that had ever been sold by the government.

M1 Carbines, 1903 Springfields, Colt SAAs, uniforms, ammo, scopes, antique planes, anti-aircraft guns in front of VFW posts — and much more. All these items could have been confiscated and destroyed by the government.

Yes, this bill was outrageous. But it was quite sneaky as well.

The definition that covered the above-mentioned equipment was not spelled out in the bill. One could read the bill from cover to cover and not discern that firearms and other surplus militaria would be subject to confiscation.

The bill only said that the military equipment to be confiscated were defined in the Arms Export Control Act of 1961. GOA had to go there to find the list.

It was a long one.

Gun Owners of America put out e-mail and fax alerts asking our members to contact their congressmen and demand removal of this incredible gun grab. The bill had already passed both houses of Congress by huge margins — nobody reads the bills — and was in a conference committee to iron out differences.

One of the members of that committee, anti-gun Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia, was crucial. GOA mailed postcards to our members in the state urging them to put the heat on Warner.

Two days after the mail went out, Warner’s office called asking what was going on. We told them they were on the verge of angering not only gun owners, but veterans as well. The message evidently got through.

Thanks to the tireless members of Gun Owners of America who are always ready when called, Congress felt the heat. The Pearl Harbor attack on the Second Amendment was averted by the flood of calls and e-mail directed to Congress.

Correction: In my column reviewing the movie “The Patriot,” I criticized Philip Lader for saying, erroneously, that this excellent motion picture damages Anglo-American relations by “falsely portraying British soldiers as evil and vicious.” But, I was mistaken when I identified Lader as Great Britain’s Ambassador to the United States. This is wrong. Lader is, alas, our Ambassador to Great Britain. This makes his criticism even more outrageous since he was siding with the British many of whom, during our War For Independence, were evil and did commit vicious atrocities against American colonists.