9/97 GOA Mobilizes Coalition Effort Against Lautenberg Gun Ban

Groups join Rep. Chenoweth in support for H.R. 1009

GOA Mobilizes Coalition Effort Against Lautenberg Gun Ban

WOMEN’S RIGHTS organizations, family and police groups, civil rights and gun organizations — what do they all have in common? In mid-July, Gun Owners of America mustered this diverse coalition on Capitol Hill to denounce the Lautenberg gun ban passed last September.

About a dozen groups and speakers joined GOA for the Women’s Gun Rights press conference. Among other things, these groups called on Representatives to cosponsor H.R. 1009, which has more cosponsors (31) than any other bill to repeal the Lautenberg ban.

Congress passed the Lautenberg gun ban late last year as a tiny rider on a huge budget bill. GOA has taken the lead in opposing the entire ban, as it disarms otherwise law-abiding citizens for life — for offenses as slight as spanking a child or grabbing a spouse’s wrist.

“I appreciate the hard work Gun Owners of America and its members have put into pushing my bill to repeal the Lautenberg gun ban, H.R. 1009,” said Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-ID). “Your strong support has helped H.R. 1009 get more cosponsors than any other bill dealing with this pernicious law.”

Gun Owners hosts Women’s Gun Rights Day

GOA’s foundation (GOF) organized a luncheon for Representatives and their staffs, and flew in notable speakers from around the country to discuss the Lautenberg gun ban. The luncheon was very well attended and allowed many of the Representatives’ offices to see, perhaps for the first time, how “well-intentioned” gun control laws have serious consequences for law-abiding citizens.

The luncheon was followed by a press conference later in the day, where several speakers joined with pro-gun Representatives Chenoweth, Jim Gibbons (R-NV) and Virgil Goode (D-VA) to push the Lautenberg repeal bill introduced by Mrs. Chenoweth.

“The Lautenberg Amendment violates the Second and Tenth amendments to the Constitution,” Chenoweth (with GOA Executive Director Larry Pratt, right) said, “and denies abused spouses the means to defend themselves.

“Reasonable people will agree that the Lautenberg Amendment is bad law. And bad laws should be repealed,” she said.

One of the most notable highlights of the entire day was seeing the nation’s largest women’s organization, Concerned Women for America (CWA), speak out against the Lautenberg gun ban.

In fact, several women’s groups joined CWA in lambasting a law that gun banners like Sen. Frank Lautenberg — the sponsor of the ban — have tried to “spin” as being a “pro-women” gun control law.

Lautenberg ban disarming women

“This gun ban has disarmed millions of law-abiding citizens,” said Kathleen Gennaro, Director of Women’s Policy for Gun Owners of America. “Because of this law, merely spanking a child or slapping a husband could result in a woman’s being disarmed forever. And unfortunately for some women, they already have been, due to Lautenberg. This ban needs to be repealed.”

Janalee Tobias, President of Women Against Gun Control (WAGC), made a strong appeal to the Congress to repeal the ban. “If the Lautenberg Gun Ban law was passed five years ago, it wouldn’t have stopped Nicole Brown Simpson from being murdered. On the other hand, if Nicole Simpson had a gun, she might be alive today.”

After noting that the Lautenberg ban is now disarming many of the very women who may need protection, Mrs. Tobias emphatically stated that “the Lautenberg Gun Ban hurts, not helps women.”

At the press conference, Tobias and WAGC presented Rep. Chenoweth with a huge stack of petitions, asking the Congress to pass H.R. 1009 and repeal the Lautenberg ban.

Gun control threatens law-abiding

Texas State Representative Suzanna Gratia Hupp (D) also warned Congress about the “unintended consequences” of gun control. She then relayed her own experience when she lost both of her parents to a deranged assassin in 1991.

“I made the dumbest decision of my life when I decided to obey Texas’ gun laws,” Hupp said. She explained how easily she could have stopped the gunman who took her parents’ lives in the Luby’s Cafeteria where the three of them were having lunch. But Mrs. Hupp had decided a few months earlier to comply with Texas law and leave her concealed firearm in her car, rather than in her purse.

“I would much rather be sitting in jail with a felony [gun] offense on my head and have my parents alive,” she told the crowd in a moving speech. “The Lautenberg gun ban is just one more ill-conceived gun control law that will have unintended consequences. . . . Repeal this ban.”

Safety for Women and Responsible Motherhood (SWARM) also threw its support behind H.R. 1009. “The Lautenberg gun ban is no law for women. We don’t want it!” said Rebecca John Wyatt, President of SWARM. “It’s ridiculous to think that a man who is stalking his ex-wife is not going to assault her because of Lautenberg. Safety for Women and Responsible Motherhood asks you, the Congress, to repeal the Lautenberg ban!”

Another Lautenberg victim steps forward

One of the most heart-wrenching moments of the entire day was seeing a “Lautenberg victim” tell his story. This speaker is a GOA member who is now disarmed for life by the Lautenberg gun ban, simply because he spanked his child on the rear.

The father was going through an ugly divorce several years ago. On one occasion, his estranged wife, with the encouragement of her mother, reported the man to the police for child abuse. The man had spanked his daughter with an open hand on the buttocks. After a nasty court battle, the man finally accepted a domestic violence misdemeanor conviction.

Upon learning of the Lautenberg gun ban, this GOA member, seeking to be in compliance with the law, sold his collection of firearms. He has been disarmed for life for simply spanking his own daughter. And ironically, the man and his ex-wife are now living together and are seeking reconciliation with the intent to marry.

Growing coalition opposing Lautenberg

Rep. Helen Chenoweth announced at the press conference that American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho has come out in opposition to the Lautenberg gun ban as passed last year.

The ACLU chapter noted that, “it was inappropriate and a violation of the rights of individual citizens to impose a limitation on gun ownership retroactively for offenses that may have occurred years before.”

Currently, there are more than 30 groups which have come out in opposition to the Lautenberg gun ban. These organizations, as mentioned before, include groups that deal with any one of the following constituencies: pro-gun, pro-family, law enforcement, civil rights, conservative or women’s issues.

Highlights from the Coalition Conference

Larry Pratt with several of the conference speakers

“The Lautenberg gun ban is just one more ill-conceived gun control law that will have unintended consequences. I want to know how many thousands of people that this law will strip of their livelihood, or perhaps their lives, or the lives of their children, or their grandchildren, or any other loved on that is under their care. . . . Repeal this ban.”
— Texas State Rep. Suzanna Gratia Hupp
“If you really want to help the plight of women, stop hindering our critical rights to self-defense with the Lautenberg amendment!”
— Rebecca John Wyatt, President of Safety for Women and Responsible Motherhood
“[This law] wouldn’t have stopped Nicole Brown Simpson from being murdered. On the other hand, if Nicole Simpson had a gun, she might be alive today. The Lautenberg ban is not going to stop men from beating and stabbing their wives — which is what happens in the great majority of domestic violence cases. And yet, the Lautenberg ban is now disarming many of the very women who may need protection…. The Lautenberg Gun Ban hurts, not helps women.”
— Janalee Tobias, President of Women Against Gun Control
“We see innocent parents erroneously charged with child abuse or domestic violence simply because they practice reasonable, lawful, corporal punishment in their homes. This law could provide vigilante prosecutors the power to seize the guns of parents who are not following Dr. Spock’s politically correct method of child rearing.”
— Doug Domenech, Director of Government Affairs for the Home School Legal Defense Association

Gun Owners Foundation Brief Contributes to Brady Decision

IN 1996, Gun Owners Foundation (GOF) filed a Brief with the Supreme Court on behalf of Sheriffs Jay Printz and Richard Mack, two men who took the Brady law to court. GOF would like to express its gratitude for the generous contributions from concerned gun owners that made the filing of that Brief possible.

GOF was delighted to see that two of its arguments were used by the Court in striking down a portion of the Brady law. Gun Owners Foundation was the only organization to use these arguments (which relate to Congress’ complete lack of authority to commission federal law enforcement officers).

In the wake of this important decision, much discussion has arisen concerning the far reaching impact of the ruling. Sarah Brady, Charles Schumer, et. al., claim the decision has no future implications because most states either have a background check system in place at the state level, or else will voluntarily comply with the Brady requirements.

Meanwhile, gun owners are left holding a bag which might be considered half empty or half full. Knowing what the Court struck down, as well as what remains, is of utmost importance to the pro-gun community.

What the ruling does

The Court ruled concerning what was “on the table.” Sheriffs Printz and Mack had legal standing to attack only those aspects of the law which affected them directly, not the entire Brady law. Recall the requirements of Brady: The federal government (under the auspices of the Attorney General) is to set up a computerized national instant check system by November 30, 1998. Until that date, Brady contained interim provisions which were to be put in place immediately, to wit, that the local Chief Law Enforcement Office (CLEO) must conduct a background check on prospective handgun purchasers. The CLEO has 5 business days to complete this task. A state is exempt from Brady’s interim requirements if it has an instant check system in place.

This is the point to which many Sheriffs objected. Where was the Constitutional authority for the federal government to make such demands on local law enforcement? “Pretty soon, you don’t have a county sheriff, you have a county federal agent,” Sheriff Mack told an audience at a GOF conference in Arizona. “For [the federal government] to think they can come unilaterally across the country and commandeer every sheriff’s office for their ridiculous feel-good legislation is the height of arrogance,” Mack continued.

A majority of the Court agreed with Mack. “[I]t is apparent that the Brady Act purports to direct state law enforcement officers to participate, albeit only temporarily, in the administration of a federally enacted regulatory scheme,” wrote Justice Antonin Scalia, who penned the majority opinion.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote a separate but concurring opinion, used a Constitutional view of the Commerce Clause to further drive the point home:

“Government’s authority under the Commerce Clause…does not extend to the regulation of wholly intrastate, point of sale transactions. Absent the underlying authority to regulate the intrastate transfer of firearms, Congress surely lacks the corollary power to impress state law enforcement officers into administering and enforcing such regulations.”

What about Mack’s assertion that Brady was ridiculous feel-good legislation? While the Court was not asked to address the intent of Congress when it passed Brady, Justice Scalia did write that “By forcing state governments to absorb the financial burden of implementing a federal regulatory program, Members of Congress can take credit for ‘solving’ problems without having to ask their constituents to pay for the solution with higher federal taxes.”

The Court ruling, therefore, was limited only to the question of Congress’ authority to compel state officials to perform the background check. Very dangerous provisions of Brady have survived.

What the ruling does not do

The Court did not rule, nor was it asked to, on the Constitutionality of the five day waiting period for handgun purchases or the national instant check. Therefore, both of these measures remain in effect.

While both provisions are blatantly unconstitutional, the instant check is potentially more dangerous than the waiting period because it lays the foundation for a national database of gun owners. Both provisions, however, place a dangerous prior restraint on our constitutional liberties.

In conclusion, states’ rights proponents won a great victory with the Supreme Court decision. Congress was reminded that its authority is limited, and more dust was blown off the 10th Amendment. Hopefully, the ramifications of this decision will trickle down throughout the court system.

Again, GOF wishes to thank all those who assisted in our efforts to present our opinion before the Supreme Court.

Instant Check a Trojan Horse

by Larry Pratt
Executive Director, Gun Owners of America

GUN OWNERS should rejoice that the Supreme Court recently struck down a portion of the Brady gun control law. The Court should now go the rest of the way and finish the job it started.

The Brady Law has proven itself to be a dismal failure at fighting crime. In its first year and a half of operation, the law netted only seven prosecutions and three incarcerations nationally. Yet this disappointing law has cost untold law enforcement man-hours and taxpayer dollars as hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens have been forced to jump through government hoops.

The Brady background check has made one monumental accomplishment, however; the establishment of the framework for gun registration. And with the help of many pro-gun individuals and organizations, gun registration is rapidly being computerized by way of the “instant check.”

Many pro-gunners have bought the line that some form of “reasonable” restrictions, in this case the “instant check,” must be placed on our Constitutional right. They believe the lie that violent criminals are going to subject themselves to a background check before purchasing a firearm. They fail to recognize that the only people who will obey the law are (and this should come as no surprise) the law-abiding.

What about the thousands of supposed violent felons who have been stopped by the background check? If they were so dangerous that they cannot be trusted with a firearm, many more than three should have been incarcerated and taken off the streets. After all, the mere attempted purchase of a firearm by a prohibited person is a crime punishable by five years imprisonment. As it turns out, the majority of denials were the result of human or computer error.

Instant check: registering gun owners

The so-called Instant Check is simply a gun purchaser registration scheme and a waste of taxpayer resources. When names are checked against the federal data base, all names (with their social security numbers) are coded to indicate that they are gun owners. Once entered into a database, of course, there is no guarantee the names will ever be removed.

Quite simply, in spite of the prohibitions in Brady, a gun owner registration list can be (and is being) compiled. For example, in Ohio, over 300,000 honest citizens have had their names illegally stored by the state. Virtually none of these folks are criminals. There is no legitimate reason to store these names on a database, and moreover, a door is left open for future misuse.

Consider the experience of New York City. In the mid-1960s, officials in New York began registering all rifles and shotguns. They promised they would never use such lists to take away firearms from honest citizens. But in 1991, the city banned many of those very guns.

The gun owners were trapped; the Constitution guarantees their right to own those firearms, but the city placed itself in a position to jail anyone in possession of the banned firearms. In 1992, the New York Daily News reported that “Police raided the home of a Staten Island man who refused to comply with the city’s tough ban on assault weapons, and seized an arsenal of firearms….Spot checks are planned [for other homes].”

The Brady Instant Registration Check is the Trojan Horse that the gun prohibitionists can use at some point to further restrict or even confiscate the people’s firearms. Brady should be repealed at the state and national levels, and not imposed in the states still lacking such an unconstitutional law.

Vermont choosing freedom

Protecting the Second Amendment will be much easier when advocates of constitutionally protected liberties consistently defend the right to keep and bear arms. The most consistent position for defending firearms for personal defense is right to carry legislation modeled after the Vermont law.

In Vermont, there are no licenses, permits or other government intrusions infringing on the right to carry a concealed firearm. The law essentially says that it is illegal to carry a firearm concealed or openly for the purpose of criminally injuring another person.

Vermont’s law highlights the radical anti-gun nature of the Instant Registration Check in the Brady Law. Under the federal Brady law, one must seek government permission just to buy a gun. In Vermont, one can both buy and carry a gun with no state government involvement whatsoever. Of course, since the federal government decided to embark on a series of unconstitutional, and therefore, illegitimate adventures in civilian disarmament, Vermonters have been hampered to the extent that they could not escape the reach of Washington.

Vermont’s murder rate is, almost every year, the lowest in the country. Those pushing for civilian disarmament say that Vermont has such a low rate because it is a rural population.

But since last year, the anti-gunners have been countered by the overwhelming weight of the evidence amassed by Dr. John Lott at the University of Chicago. Lott took the crime data of every city and county in the U.S. for the previous sixteen years and analyzed the data in terms of poverty, density of population, arrest rates, sentencing rates and lengths, among other variables. The one factor that consistently correlated in a positive fashion with crime rates was whether a state recognized or not the right of a citizen to carry a concealed firearm.

Lott’s study showed that states which passed concealed carry laws reduced their murder rate by 8.5%, rapes by 5%, aggravated assaults by 7% and robbery by 3%. If those states not having concealed carry laws had adopted such laws in 1992, then approximately 1,570 murders, 4,177 rapes, 60,000 aggravated assaults and 12,000 robberies would have been avoided yearly.

Waiting periods don’t work

Before the imposition of the Brady Law on the whole country, about half of the states had a waiting period, the rest did not violate their citizens’ constitutional rights in that way. The violent crime rates were higher in the states with waiting periods. In fact, California, with its 15 day waiting period, had a murder rate 25% over that of the rest of the country.

Two states can illustrate this clearly. In 1976, both Georgia and Wisconsin tried two different approaches to fighting crime. Georgia enacted legislation making it easier for citizens to carry guns for self-defense, while Wisconsin passed a law requiring a 48 hour waiting period before the purchase of a handgun. What resulted during the ensuing years? Georgia’s law served as a deterrent to criminals and helped drop its homicide rate by 21 percent. Wisconsin’s murder rate, however, rose 33 percent during the same period.

There is no doubt that waiting periods kill. For example, Bonnie Elmasri inquired about getting a gun to protect herself against a husband who had repeatedly threatened to kill her. She was told there was a 48 hour waiting period to buy a handgun. But unfortunately, Bonnie was never able to pick up a gun. She and her two sons were killed the next day by an abusive husband of whom the police were well aware.

Conversely, Marine Cpl. Rayna Ross bought a gun in a non-waiting period state and used it to kill an attacker in self-defense two days later. Had a 5-day waiting period been in effect, Ms. Ross would have been defenseless against the man who was stalking and seeking to kill her.

Waiting periods are unconstitutional. They are a prior restraint on the exercise of a constitutionally protected (not granted) right. The Supreme court has ruled (Near v. Minnesota) that government officials should punish the abuse of a right and not place prior restraints on the exercise of the right. So while it is illegal to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater, we do not issue muzzles to theatergoers as they enter. Obviously, the same principle applies to firearms. It is illegal to criminally injure another person, but prior restraint should be as prohibited under the Second Amendment as it is under the First.

Gun Control and Genocide

Having said that, the danger of the waiting period is far less than that of the Instant Registration Check. The Brady Instant Registration Check is the foundation for a national, centralized, computerized registration list of gun owners. As Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership have shown from their definitive study of genocide in this century (Lethal Laws: “Gun Control” is the key to Genocide), genocide invariably was preceded by gun control. Once the identification of gun owners is in place, the thugs in power (a.k.a. the government) confiscated firearms. (In Ruwanda, they also confiscated machetes.) Then the slaughter of the target population began — Jews in Nazi Germany, Ukrainians and others in Soviet Russia, Christians in Uganda, Indians in Guatemala, the educated in Cambodia and so forth.

The figures are in. During this century alone, governments have slaughtered their tens of millions, the Al Capones their scores and hundreds. Yet Sarah Brady, Rep. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and the other advocates of civilian disarmament breeze right on past the killing fields of our recent past. They also overlook the massive threat to personal security posed by center-city street gangs.

Instead, their desire is to convince us all that it is the guns of the victims that are at fault — decent people wishing to protect themselves from the criminals set loose on our streets by our government. We are watching a monumental shifting of the blame from those who have brought us a failed system of criminal justice. They want us to look not at murderers put out on the street. Rather than blame murderers, blame guns we are told.

Our answer to the civilian disarmament crowd has to be that crime is their fault, not gun owners. Gun control laws kill. When stating our position we must not fall into the trap of agreeing to policies, such as the Instant Registration Check, that make disarmament possible. We should press on for what we want — the free exercise of a constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. After all, we will never get more than we ask for.

Gun controllers are the friends of criminals and the enemies of freedom. They arrogantly assume that only they (and their buddies in the government) are responsible enough to be trusted with guns. The watchword should be that guns save lives, gun control kills. And the Instant Registration Check is gun control — a threat to every gun owner.

Second Amendment Victories Across the Country!

“Lock up your safety” provision defeated in Senate committee

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee killed a provision in July that would have required gun owners to lock up their guns, thus jeopardizing people’s ability to defend themselves in an emergency. The amendment, introduced by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), was narrowly defeated by a vote of 9-8.

Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) was the only Republican to cross over and join Democrats in voting for the amendment. Gun owners may see this provision resurrected since Sen. Kohl has vowed to offer his amendment once again on the Senate floor.

While gun owners hailed the defeat of an anti-gun amendment in a Senate Committee, the Constitution did not completely escape unscathed. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) offered a compromise alternative that would require all dealers to have gun locks, or other gun safety devices, available for sale. The panel approved Hatch’s amendment, 10-7.

Bureaucrats Throw in the Towel on Fingerprints (for now)

Gun owners and liberty activists won a stunning victory in Alabama this summer by defeating the Department of Public Safety’s plan to fingerprint driver’s license applicants and encode the print in government computers. Understanding that computerizing fingerprints into driver’s license data bases is part of the architecture for gun owner registration, GOA joined efforts to oppose this scheme.

Confirming GOA concerns was a statement by U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich on CNN calling for the computerized scanning of gun buyers’ thumbprints through the so-called “national instant check.”

Thanks need to go to Linda Muller’s “Fight the Fingerprint” e-mail list , Cyndee Parker’s Coalition to Repeal the Fingerprint Law in Georgia, and all those who helped them as well.

Gun Owners rising up against FBI Fingerprint Registration

Gun owners are winning victories against fingerprinting in surprising places. In July, the board in the major suburban Virginia jurisdiction of Fairfax County (just outside of Washington, DC) defeated a proposal to fingerprint concealed carry applicants on a 5 to 5 tie vote.

Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, South Dakota and, of course, Vermont are among several states that do not fingerprint persons who get concealed carry permits. Pennsylvania, with over five hundred thousand permits issued, has little or no problem with honest gun owners carrying for self-defense.

Sadly, an effort in Ohio to fingerprint concealed carry applicants is being led by Reps. Bill Batchelder (R-81) and Joy Padgett (R-95). GOA informed Rep. Batchelder in a one-on-one meeting of the success of the Pennsylvania process which eschews fingerprints. Yet, he and Rep. Padgett continue to ignore grassroots activists, and thus, are feeling the heat from gun owners who oppose fingerprints, high fees and other anti-gun carry restrictions.


Give to Gun Owners Foundation

In many federal offices there are subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) pressures to give to the Combined Federal Campaign. Your boss may think his prestige depends upon getting everyone to kick in. The same thing happens in all too many corporations during the United Way fund-raising drive.

You may have wanted to give but couldn’t find a group that wasn’t attacking your rights, let alone defending them, on the list of participating organizations. But that has all changed!

Federal employees now are able to designate Gun Owners Foundation as the recipient of their gifts to the Conbined Federal Campaign. Use Agency Number 1054 for Gun Owners Foundation when you make your Combined Federal Campaign pledge or donation. Your gifts will go toward helping our legal assistance program protect the Second Amendment rights of Americans across the nation.

Also, if you work for a company that participates in the United Way, you too, may be able to designate that your gift be sent to Gun Owners Foundation. Many local United Way Campaigns allow Gun Owners Foundation to participate through their Donor Choice Programs. Some, however, do not. Check with your local United Way Agency. You will not only be helping people and protecting your rights, but you will also get a tax deduction.

Of course, anyone can always make a tax-deductible donation at any time to Gun Owners Foundation by sending the contribution directly to 8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151.

One additional note. If you are employed by a corporation or organization which has a Matching Gift Program, please keep GOF in mind when making your donation. Thank you very much.

GOA Member Develops New Shooting Sport Larry Pratt on ‘Crossfire’

Bill Wilson, nationally known champion shooter and owner of a custom gunsmithing store, has developed a competitive shooting sport designed for those interested in honing their defensive skills.

The International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) offers the opportunity to compete and improve one’s skill with equipment designed for, and suitable for, self-defense. Competition allows for common service pistols and concealed carry holsters.

For more information, contact the IDPA at P.O. Box 639 in Berryville, AR 72616. Phone number: 501-545-3886; fax: 501-545-3894; e-mail: [email protected]; website: http://www.idpa.com.

Larry Pratt appeared on “Crossfire” on April 21 following the anniversary of the Oklahoma bombing and the final raid at Waco. Pat Buchanan and Larry squared off against hostess-on-the-Left Geraldine Ferraro and Brian Levin, an attorney and former staffer of Morris Dees’ Southern Poverty Law Center.

The debate topic was “Are the militias really a threat, or are they owed an apology?” To get a copy of this video, send a check in the amount of $7.50 (including shipping and handling) to GOA at 8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151.

For credit card orders (MasterCard, VISA, Am. Exp.) phone: 703-321-8585 or fax:703-321-8408.