Monday, January 17, 2005


A few excerpts

No doubt, the most important work was forcing the semi-auto ban to sunset this year. Reading the quote above, you can see that GOA members and activists like yourself played a HUGE role in realizing that triumph. This was a tremendous victory that has set the anti-gun movement back a decade. But while this was certainly the most prominent achievement, there were other good news items to celebrate as well. To this end, here are a few of the things that we have accomplished together this year.

IN SEVERAL STATES, anti-gun legislators anticipated that the federal ban on semi-autos might sunset, so they tried to enact state versions of the Clinton ban, largely to no great effect. For example, GOA activated its grassroots alert several times in Maryland and was successful in encouraging pro-gun legislators in the state to kill the gun ban.

IN ILLINOIS, GOA helped fan the flames of support for a bill that gives new legal protections to gun owners who use a handgun to shoot home invaders. Lawmakers introduced the bill after the town of Wilmette prosecuted Hale DeMar for using a handgun to shoot a burglar in his home. Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) eventually vetoed the bill, but GOA activists helped persuade their representatives and senators to override the governor's veto in November!

IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, GOA supporters helped push a Vermont-Alaska style concealed carry bill over the top in the state senate. The bill would allow law-abiding citizens to carry firearms for self-defense without first getting a permit -- while still allowing people to get permits if they want reciprocity with other states.

On a surprising note, a New Hampshire lawmaker called GOA headquarters in Virginia with some very disturbing news after the carry bill passed the senate. The lawmaker warned that the sponsor of the carry bill, Sen. Andrew Peterson, was getting "cold feet" and was planning to stab gun owners in the back. Peterson wanted to appease police groups that opposed the legislation, so he tried to kill his own bill by preventing it from going to the state house. When that failed, he attended the House hearings and actually testified against his own bill!

GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA SUBSEQUENTLY PUNISHED the "flip-flopping" Senator during a September primary that he lost by only 268 votes. (GOA helped distribute hundreds upon hundreds of leaflets that detailed Peterson's treachery to gun owners in the district right before the election.) The winner, Rep. Peter Bragdon, is a committed supporter of Second Amendment rights and a die-hard defender of real concealed carry. This is definitely an issue that GOA would like to revisit in 2005.

ON A MORE EXCITING NOTE, pro-gun forces won a huge victory in March when Senators voted down several gun control restrictions that had been inserted into the gun makers' protection act. Senators were being pressed to pass the bill, even though it had been saddled with amendments to effectively abolish gun shows, to renew the semi-auto ban, and to require Americans to "lock up their safety." The pressure was on. Senators were given the vague promise that if they voted for these anti-gun provisions, the bill would be "cleaned up" later -- but this is a very dangerous strategy which has failed many times in the past. At the same time, thousands upon thousands of GOA postcards were being dumped on Senators' desks. The timing could not have been more perfect.

GOA postcards stopped these gun control restrictions -- including the Feinstein semi-auto ban -- from passing out of the Senate. The postcards made it quite obvious to Senate offices that we were not about to swallow very minimal Second Amendment gains in exchange for gun control. In the words of one Senate staffer, the GOA mail made it clear that "no deals" were acceptable.

Even after the defeat of the semi-auto ban in March, Senator Feinstein said that she would look for any and every opportunity to get her gun ban passed. To combat this, GOA worked hard to get Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to use parliamentary maneuvers to keep gun control amendments from being offered to other bills. Senator Frist (R-TN) had refused to use those parliamentary techniques when the gun makers' protection act was being debated in March. He said it couldn't be done. Of course, GOA knew that wasn't true. So we posted the specific details on GOA's website -- at -- and documented how Senator Frist can bring up a bill for a vote, while using parliamentary roadblocks that keep antagonistic amendments from being offered. GOA then asked its members and activists to contact Senator Frist's office -- to make sure he not only read the document, but was prepared to use all the weapons in his arsenal to stop Senator Feinstein. He listened to you. When Senator Feinstein threatened to attach her gun ban to a legal reform bill, Senator Frist blocked her amendment.

Altogether, the Gun Owners of America -- Political Victory Fund (GOA-PVF) helped 14 pro-gun challengers get elected in the House and Senate. GOA's general policy is to restrict our support to challengers, since incumbents have obvious advantages in raising money and name ID. Topping the list of targets was the obstructionist anti-gun Senate Minority Leader, Tom Daschle, who has finally been deposed. Replacing him is former Representative John Thune, a strong pro-gun ally supported by GOA-PVF. But while ousting Daschle was certainly one of the most crucial races this year, there were six open Senate seats that anti-gunners had their sights set on. GOA-PVF played an important role in thwarting that plan and helping to elect strong pro-gun advocates to five of the six open seats.

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