Terror Bill Passes; Has Problems

Government Terror Bill Passes by 38 Votes
You guys helped save the gun industry, but many problems remain

(March 14, 1996) — The “Government Terror” bill passed today by a 229-191 vote. While the industry-threatening provisions were deleted from the bill,(1) many serious problems affecting gun owners remained in this unconstitutional piece of legislation.

For starters, however, realize what a tremendous impact you all had upon House legislators. When GOA approached certain leaders on the Hill last December about the problems in H.R. 2703, they were insistent that no changes would be made. They threatened us and said we didn’t know what we were talking about. (Even though last week, a staffer in one of these offices admitted that GOA had made “a good catch” in pointing out these objections.)

Nevertheless, it was clearly the grassroots heat that GOA members and activists applied which forced these leaders to make even some changes. While GOA opposed this bill from the beginning, some pro-gun leaders were telling offices on Capitol Hill that the bill could be supported. This made our job all the more difficult, but you guys never let up. All the faxes, phone calls, postcards and mailgrams you sent helped put enough “heat” on the legislators to bring about significant changes.

Remember when Dick Armey’s office was telling you that none of our objections were in the bill? Soon after Armey’s denials, legislators began crafting an amendment which passed on the House floor on Wednesday to fix many of these objections -problems which Armey and others were claiming never existed.

People are taking notice of the hard work that all of you have done. For example, a recent article in a Capitol Hill publication gave credit to GOA members and activists for putting the heat on various legislators. When GOA was urging Sen. Bob Dole to lead a filibuster against the crime bill in 1994, you guys swamped his office with faxes. This is what Roll Call, the newspaper of record on Capitol Hill, had to say about your efforts in its Feb. 19, 1996 issue:

Gun Owners [of America] . . . orchestrated a fax campaign against Dole on the assault weapons issue that so overloaded his leadership office machine that staffers had to turn it off.

That effort against Dole occurred in 1994. You will remember, that Dole — after MUCH persuasion — was forced into going along with a filibuster. (Remember, he had voted for the crime bill only months before, and had pushed the bill on nationwide T.V.) Now read what Roll Call, in the same issue, said GOA members accomplished last December in regards to the terrorism bill:

Gun Owners [of America] played a leading role in killing last year’s anti-terrorism legislation. . . . Conservative House Republicans — many of them freshmen — backed the Gun Owners position and refused to follow [Rep.] Barr [who was one of the sponsors of the bill].

Rep. Barr made several changes to the bill to help it finally pass. But as stated above, there were still many concerns in the final version of the House bill — including an amendment demonizing gun owners and their laser-sighting equipment, a study on the effectiveness of body armor which could easily be used to push for further ammunition bans, a provision making it more difficult to rescue honest gun owners who are unjustly incarcerated, and a provision federalizing many state crimes.

GOA will publish the names of those voting for the House bill in an upcoming alert. We need to keep the heat on them, and urge them to oppose the conference version, which will probably be even worse.

1. As stated in GOA’s March 13 alert, the original version of the “Government Terror” bill would have terrorized gun owners by severely punishing individuals for selling a gun to someone they should have known was going to use, or threaten to use, the firearm in a “crime of violence.” To punish the seller of a firearm under this standard would be clearly ludicrous (unless all sellers are clairvoyant) and would have been a change in the current law, which requires that the seller “know” the gun will be used in a crime. Other harmful provisions were deleted from the bill as well.