GOA Working To Kill Terror Bill
Terror Bill Coming to a Vote Soon
— GOA working to strengthen opposition in the House
(Monday, December 11) — It looks like the grinch could be arriving early this Christmas season. But instead of stealing Christmas trees and gifts, the legislative grinches will be after our rights. The House of Representatives might be voting on the terrorism bill this week which makes a frontal assault on our liberties protected in the Bill of Rights..
Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) plans to offer a substitute bill (H.R. 2703) to replace his original terror bill. The substitute, which has been co-written by Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), still has many of the same problems which the original bill (H.R. 1710) had. Last week, GOA joined with NRA, ACLU and over 20 other organizations to outline several points of concern with the pending terror bills in the Congress in general, and the Hyde substitute bill in particular. Specifically, the Hyde substitute will do the following:
* Punish individuals (as well as gun dealers and manufacturers) for selling a gun to someone who they ‘should have known’ was illegally going to use, or threaten to use, the firearm. Thus, if you sell a gun to a neighbor who later, in a rage over his wife’s spending habits, threatens to shoot-out the tires of her car, you can be prosecuted for having sold him the gun. After all, prosecutors can argue, having known that your friend was upset with his wife’s spending habits, you should have known the person might threaten his wife or her property with the firearm.
To punish the seller of a gun under this standard is clearly ludicrous and is a change in the current law — which requires the seller “know” the gun will be used in a crime. Under this bill, you can face a 5 year MANDATORY MINIMUM jail sentence for having sold a gun to someone who, through no fault of your own, ends up acting like a jerk. This threat is multiplied many times over for gun dealers and gun manufacturers, who might sell a gun to someone whom they ‘should have known’ would later use it in a crime.
* The bill orders a study of certain ammunition, and is thus, a first step toward getting an ammunition ban in place. Studies like this one are often regarded as a mechanism to gather support for more government intervention — especially when the study is done by an anti-gun administration.
* The bill could very well encourage the destruction or suppression of evidence (such as occurred in Waco and Ruby Ridge). The right of gun owners to appeal previous court decisions, where evidence was destroyed or suppressed by prosecutors, will be strictly limited and could thus reward bureaucrats who end up “framing” innocent people. The bill will also limit the ability of gun owners, who have inadequate legal counsel, to appeal bad court decisions.
* The bill would allow officers to illegally wiretap your home, as long as it is done in “good faith.”
* The bill would give the FBI enhanced authority to obtain the names of the banks at which you maintain accounts, your address, employer, employment history, and complete records about the airline flights you have taken, the cars you have rented, and the hotels in which you have stayed, all without any evidence that you might be involved in criminal activity.
* The bill would allow the government to use ‘secret evidence’ against certain individuals — that is, aliens. (Since there have already been attempts to apply immigration law to civilians, the concern is that this precedent could later be expanded in the criminal code.) Thus, the precedent would be set for government officials to bring charges against gun owners and prevent them from seeing the specific evidence being used against them, from cross-examining the witnesses who are accusing them, etc. — a direct violation of the Sixth Amendment.
The truth is that no terrorism bill is going to prevent tragedies like the Oklahoma City and World Trade Center bombings — the Administration has admitted as much. Government’s job is to punish criminals, not to erect a police state that screens every movement of law-abiding citizens.
The problem with passing a terrorism bill in the House is that it keeps the entire legislation alive and kicking. If the House passes the bill, it then goes to a conference committee where they will look at both the House and the Senate versions together. As you will remember, the Senate version also makes a major assault our Second Amendment freedoms — such as giving the BATF a pay raise of $100 million.
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett is leading a groundswell movement in the House against the terror bill. He and about 30 other Congressmen signed a letter last week asking Gingrich to put-off any vote on the terrorism bill, at least until next year.
HERE’S WHAT TO DO:
* Call House Speaker Newt Gingrich and urge him to keep the House terror bill (H.R. 2703) from coming to a vote. (Phone number in his leadership office: 202-225-0600; fax: 202-225-7733. You can also call Rep. Gingrich’s regular office at 1-800-962-3524 or 1-800-872- 8513.) Tell him that actions which kill people — like blowing up buildings or derailing trains — is ALREADY a crime in this country. We don’t need to give government officials any more power, especially seeing how certain officials — like in Waco and Ruby Ridge — have already abused the power they now have and have appeared, for the most part, to escape any punishment or discipline.
* Start getting members of your gun clubs, etc. to start calling their Representatives (1-800-962-3524, 1-800-872-8513). Ask them to oppose H.R. 2703 and to deliver the same message listed in the paragraph above (in the bullet concerning Rep. Gingrich).
Did You Know?
Gun Owners Foundation has published two books this year. Safeguarding Liberty: The Constitution and Citizens’ Militias is an in depth look at the original intent of the Second Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms. The book is edited by Larry Pratt and contains a collection of the best writers on the Second Amendment. It costs $15. The Davidian Massacre by Carol Moore deals with information the Waco Committee ignored, pointing the finger of blame squarely at the federal government attackers. Its price is $8. Both of these books can be ordered by calling 1-800- 417-1486 or sending a check made out to Gun Owners Foundation at the address listed on the first page.