Summary Of House Debate


A Day of Shame:
Over 180 Republicans join Schumer in assaulting the Bill of Rights

(Monday, April 22) — The House of Representatives voted Thursday to pass the Government Terror bill by a vote of 293-133. The bill which Rep. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and President Clinton had pushed for so long found help from an unlikely source — 188 Republicans who were in large part brought to the table because of their leadership. Republicans like House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX), and Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL) all spent time recently pushing the bill among their colleagues. And Rep. Bob Barr — an important fixture on the Judiciary Committee — did considerable work lobbying other Republicans, urging their support for the bill.

Unfortunately, the bill still gives the BATF a $100 million pay increase, gives the BATF carte blanche to make recommendations for ammunition and firearms bans, federalizes many state crimes, thus enlarging the BATF’s scope and jurisdiction, and much, much more (see file entitled “House Vote on Terror Bill.”)

Freshmen stand tall. Despite pressure from the top, more than two dozen Freshmen Republicans bucked their leadership and refused to violate the Constitution. Several of these Freshmen — and some long-term Congressmen — were staunch pro-gunners who clearly saw the assault being waged on the Second Amendment and all the Bill of Rights.

Pro-gun Congressmen voting against the bill included Steve Stockman (R-TX), Helen Chenoweth (R-ID), Rep. Phil Crane (R-IL), Joe Scarborough (R-FL) and others. These Congressmen were among that group of men and women who temporarily killed the terror bill last year when GOA activists bombarded the House with calls, postcards, faxes and emails. Roll Call, which is the newspaper of record on Capitol Hill, reported in February that “Gun Owners [of America] played a leading role in killing last year’s anti-terrorism legislation. . . . Conservative House Repub- licans — many of them freshmen — backed the [GOA] position and refused to follow Barr.”

In fact, GOA and friends were able to get many, many harmful provisions removed, including a provision that could have put the firearms industry out of business. Indeed, this one provision would have severely punished gun dealers for selling a firearm to someone that they should have known was going to use it in a violent crime. Without being clairvoyant, gun dealers would have faced tremendous harassment from the BATF.

Coalitions FOR and AGAINST the terror bill. The Washington Post stated on Friday that “Most of the opponents [in Congress] were Democratic liberals or conservative Republicans.” This was generally true, although there were a few notable exceptions (see file entitled, “House Vote on Terror Bill.”)

Outside the Congress, GOA was joined by more than 20 other groups — including the ACLU and CCRKBA — in opposing the bill. While some in the media labeled this an odd coalition, it was only topped by the strange “bedfellows” supporting the bill. Rep. Charles Schumer (D-NY) applauded Republicans Hyde, Hatch and McCollum for “the leadership they displayed.” Rep. Hyde returned the compliment, thanking Mr. Schumer “for his cooperation” and for being “very helpful on this bill.” Hyde also listed the coalition of groups outside the Congress that supported the terror bill. He mentioned about a dozen groups, including “the Christian Coalition; the Anti-Defamation League . . . [and] National Rifle Association.”

“Hall of Shame” Award: Sen. Bob Dole. The biggest disappointment came when Sen. Bob Dole betrayed gun owners last year. On May 26, 1995, he asked for a “Unanimous Consent” agreement that “no assault weapons amendments be in order to the terrorism bill” (Source: Congressional Record, 5/26/95, p. S 7610). By doing this, Sen. Dole prevented any repeal amendment from being attached to the terror bill. Attaching a gun ban repeal to the terrorism bill would have done one of two things: it would either have ensured that the gun ban repeal was enacted into law, or more likely, would have ensured the defeat of the terror bill. But Bob Dole took the lead in squelching the gun ban repeal, thus ensuring that the repeal would not stall their efforts at passing a government terror bill.