S 735: Terrorism Bill

Senate Expected to Soon Vote on “Anti-terrorism” Bill
S. 735 threatens gun owners’ rights; calls needed

by Gun Owners of America

(Tuesday, May 23) — Sources in the U.S. Senate are indicating that a vote is expected by the end of the week on so-called anti-terrorism legislation. The bill under discussion, S. 735, would threaten gun owners’ rights unless certain provisions are removed.

S. 735, introduced by Senators Bob Dole and Orrin Hatch, has a firearms conspiracy provision which would remove the “overt act” requirement that currently exists under federal law. This provision would allow the BATF and federal prosecutors to punish otherwise law-abiding citizens for far-reaching conspiracy charges (including simple paperwork and technical violations) even though no overt act was committed.

For example, a woman goes to a gun dealer and indicates that she is being pursued, that she needs a handgun for self-defense, and that she cannot wait for the five days required by the Brady Law. The gun dealer indicates that he will sell her the gun, but, a second later, recants and refuses to consummate the transaction. Under S. 735, the dealer would be as guilty of a violation of the Brady Law as if he had completed the sale.

(Punishing words without acts has traditionally been avoided by common law because it comes perilously close to incarcerating law-abiding citizens for mere speech. Under current law, conspiracy must involve an action. But even this requirement can be abused by federal prosecutors. Consider that when the feds brought conspiracy charges against Randy Weaver, they had to really stretch the bounds of credulity to support that claim. The feds argued that because Weaver had moved from Iowa to Idaho, this act supposedly showed he was conspiring to have an armed confrontation with the government! Imagine what prosecutors could do with a conspiracy statute that doesn’t even require them to demonstrate any act at all. With no overt act requirement, it would be a lot easier for prosecutors to merely invent a claim based on some hypothetical agreement.)

S. 735 will also allow the federal government to revoke the tax status of any group (including GOA, NRA, etc.) for failing to give its membership list to the government. This broad net can destroy any group that has serious complaints against the government.

Other unconstitutional provisions in S. 735 include provisions which would: preempt state law enforcement efforts in many circumstances which are primarily of local concern; broaden the authority of the FBI to make demands of citizens not suspected of crimes; and in general, increase the ability of government to intrude on the privacy and rights of individuals.


* Call your Senators (202-224-3121) and ask them to oppose any “anti-terrorist” legislation that would infringe on gun owners’ rights. Tell them that S. 735, as written, is unacceptable. Encourage them to get tough on the perpetrators of crime, not to vote for legislation that sacrifices your liberties. Tell them we already have an effective deterrent against terrorism. It’s called capital punishment. Let’s use it.