"Thanks for all your help in passing HCR 39 addressing the violation of 2nd Amendment rights of our citizens in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. I really appreciate the work [that] Gun Owners of America did to spread the word to your members so they could contact their legislators and help pass the Resolution." -- Rep. Steve Scalise, November 30, 2005
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Gun confiscation in New Orleans. That was the shocking news in 2005.
If you've visited the GOA website in the past couple of months, you have probably viewed the actual video tape. American troops can be seen going house-to-house, smashing through doors and confiscating firearms.
It's all documented on the GOA website, and that is where most people first saw the gun thefts that occurred in the wake of Hurricane Katrina this past September.
Even in Louisiana, it was the GOA website that provided legislators with the evidence that gun confiscation had occurred.
"Thanks so much for sending me the link to the videos on your website," Rep. Steve Scalise said. "I showed the members of the [House] committee the video of out-of-state police confiscating weapons in the state. They watched it and couldn't believe it."
Rep. Scalise told GOA that the videos were quite instrumental in helping push his "gun restoration" resolution. "It's one thing to hear about these confiscations," he said. "It's quite another thing to see them for yourself."
With the help of our Louisiana activists, GOA was able to achieve a significant legislative victory in that embattled state. And thanks to the help of members across the country, GOA has been able to post the gun confiscation videos and keep them running on the GOA site.
But that's not all that GOA was able to accomplish this year. Because of your help, GOA has been on the front lines, defending your gun rights all across this nation.
Lest we forget, here's a quick review of the good news from this year.
** Shots ring out in several states, as thugs with guns make news all over the country. GOA jumps into the fray to defend gun rights and point out that banning guns will not keep bad guys from getting firearms (and will only hurt the ability of good people to protect themselves). GOA spokesmen are quoted in papers across the country and appear on radio talk shows as well.
** GOA spokesmen also hit the TV airwaves in opposition to a ban on 50 calibers and denounce the legislation introduced by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA). This is the first salvo in a much larger battle that will be waged on the floor of the U.S. House, just a few months down the line.
** GOA's Larry Pratt testifies on Capitol Hill in support of legislation introduced by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD). The bill would exempt organizations like GOA from the draconian restrictions on free speech that were signed into law by President Bush in 2002. Should H.R. 689 become law, GOA would no longer be restricted from using TV or radio to criticize public officials in the days leading up to an election.
** GOA asks its grassroots members to lobby their senators to support John Bolton as our ambassador the United Nations. Yes, GOA supports getting this country out of the anti-gun U.N. But until that happens, GOA wants strong, pro-gun representation in the midst of all the anti-gun tyrants that are trying to use that organization to disarm the West. In 2001, as a key official in the State Department, Bolton was single-handedly responsible for killing a proposed U.N. gun control treaty.
** GOA's foundation wins a key victory when the U.S. Supreme Court rules that a foreign conviction in a foreign court does not ban an American from owning a gun. The decision in Small v. United States will protect gun owners from losing their rights due to convictions under oppressive laws found in other countries.
This case is especially significant because, for years, Congress has prohibited the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from restoring the rights of persons who have been unreasonably or illegitimately denied their rights.
** In the states, GOA hits the airwaves and began promoting Florida's "stand your ground" law on radio talk shows all over the country. The new law in the Sunshine State now gives citizens a greater presumption of innocence if they shoot someone who is unlawfully in their home and repeals the requirement that citizens first retreat when assaulted outside of their home.
** In Arizona, a GOA member in the state senate introduces -- and pushes into law -- a bill to allow students to take gun safety and handling classes. GOA member Senator Karen Johnson (R) sponsored the legislation -- which was originally drafted by gun author Alan Korwin -- and successfully guided it to Governor Janet Napolitano's desk. Gov. Napolitano (D) signed the bill in April.
Another GOA member -- Ohio state representative Ron Hood (R) -- is now working with Gun Owners to bring this legislation to the Buckeye State.
** GOA asks its Ohio members to focus pressure on Rep. George Voinovich (R), as his criticism of John Bolton threatens to sink his nomination in committee and keep it from ever getting to the Senate floor. Voinovich, a key vote in the committee, later backs down and refuses to oppose Bolton in committee, thus allowing the nomination to proceed to the floor.
** Perhaps one of the most significant victories this year was making sure that the ban on semi-automatic firearms was not reauthorized. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) expressed her desire to offer the semi-auto ban renewal as an amendment to the gun makers liability bill (S. 397), which prompted GOA to ask Majority Leader Bill Frist to use parliamentary procedures to block her amendment.
At first, Sen. Frist was reluctant. But after the Senator received several thousand emails, faxes and phone calls from GOA members, Frist changed his mind. He used the parliamentary procedure GOA had recommended -- a strategy known as "treeing the bill" -- to block Sen. Feinstein from offering her semi-auto gun ban to S. 397 in July.
Democrats were outraged. They protested on the floor of the Senate. Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) complained about the GOA-induced strategy, stating he was quite "surprised" that Frist had used this tactic Sen. Reid may have been surprised, but GOA members and activists were not.
** GOA increases the pressure on Senators, urging them to support the nomination of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Democrats continue to block the Senate from voting on Bolton's nomination.
** On the House side, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) gets set to offer his ban on 50 calibers. GOA combats Moran's efforts by sending an emergency communication to the Hill warning representatives that a vote for gun control would be unconstitutional. Moreover, the GOA communication reminds legislators that recent elections have demonstrated the difficulty in getting reelected after casting anti-gun votes. The Moran gun ban failed by a vote of 278-149.
** GOA asks its members to send postcards and letters in favor of legislation by Mark Souder (R-IN) to repeal the DC gun ban. The timing could not be better, as these cards and letters begin flooding House offices just as Rep. Souder offers the language in his bill as an amendment to another piece of legislation. The DC gun ban repeal passes by a vote of 259-161 before subsequently being stripped out in a conference committee.
** A Supreme Court opening provides a tremendous opportunity -- and potential problems -- for gun owners. Hence, Gun Owners of America organizes a campaign of intense opposition to the likely nomination of Attorney General (and friend of the President) Alberto Gonzales. GOA issued several alerts to the grassroots and was able to inform Senators and their staffs of the abysmal gun record of Gonzales.
Later, GOA is pleased to see a subsequent Associated Press report which stated that Gonzales was no longer a potential nominee to the Court. According to the AP story, a Gonzales nomination was now unlikely since it would "re-ignite the very opposition Bush is trying to dampen on the Republican right, which doesn't think Gonzales is a reliable conservative vote." Grassroots, a job well done!
** More good news for gun owners! President Bush bypasses the U.S. Senate and appoints John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations during Congress' summer recess. Bolton, a long-time defender of the Second Amendment, is now secure in his job until January 2007.
** Even though Congress is recess, Gun Owners directs its members to flood congressional offices with opposition to very dangerous provisions in the PATRIOT reauthorization bill. The bill would give the FBI unlimited access to gun owner records -- the 4473 forms that are retained at gun dealers' stores. GOA reminds congressional offices that gun owner registration has often been followed by gun confiscation.
** Gun confiscation begins in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In addition to using the Internet to educate the world on what has happening behind the scenes in Louisiana, GOA began efforts to hold the guilty parties accountable. GOA petitioned two attorney generals (both the U.S. and Louisiana generals), as well as the Inspector General in the U.S. Justice Department.
** Legislation, that would impose extreme penalties for some who use guns in self-defense, stalled in the U.S. Senate after GOA directed thousands of postcards and letters into Senate offices. Even though H.R. 1279 passed quickly and easily in the House, the outpouring of opposition from GOA members put Senators on notice that there were serious Second Amendment concerns in the bill.
** Harriet Miers withdraws her own nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. GOA quickly springs into action and asks its activists urge President Bush to nominate Judge Samuel Alito, Jr. to the open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Judge Alito, who has worked in the Third Circuit, has a strong record in support of the Constitution. Gun Owners Foundation was involved in the Rybar machine gun case in 1996 which we ultimately lost in the courts. But Judge Alito offered a strong dissenting opinion to the majority report and argued that Congress has no right to regulate the private possession of machine guns.
The month of October ends with some great news, as President Bush nominates Judge Alito to the high Court.
** In post-Katrina Louisiana, GOA assists Representative Steve Scalise in successfully pushing a "gun restoration" resolution in the state. His measure passes the House by an overwhelming margin of 78-1 and then is later sent to Gov. Kathleen Blanco's desk.
Scalise's resolution documents that innocent civilians did, in fact, have their guns confiscated in September and calls on the governor to bring up legislation in the next session to repeal laws that were used to justify the confiscation of firearms during the recent state emergency.
Scalise is now working on introducing binding legislation that he will actively push in January of next year. This bill will amend the state code to remove any language that could provide a pretext for the future confiscation of guns in the state. The overwhelming vote on his first resolution provides a good omen for the bill's chances next year.
** Gun owners have attained significant victories in the battle to remove anti-gun provisions from the PATRIOT reauthorization bill. The provision allowing unfettered access to gun owners records is out of the bill.
But other problems remain, as the act still gives enhanced powers to federal agents to acquire gun owner records. GOA's grassroots bombards legislative offices in late November, as GOA quickly sends a letter to Hill offices in opposition to these dangerous provisions.
The reauthorization bill fails to garner enough votes to pass the Senate, and thus, the bill is sent back to a House-Senate conference committee over the Thanksgiving break. Minimal changes are made to the bill, and on December 14, the House votes for the PATRIOT reauthorization.
Gun-related problems continue to infect the legislation, and so GOA has not yet pulled its opposition. While the House may have approved the bill, its fate in the Senate is still uncertain. Please stay tuned.
We saw many good things happen this past year. And with your help, we will continue to deliver a "no compromise" message to the Congress and across the nation.
Next year's elections will be very important, and you can count on Gun Owners of America to provide you with a Congressional scorecard before the election so that you can hold your legislators accountable.
So please stand with us. With your help, GOA will continue to be here in Washington, D.C., fighting for your right to keep and bear arms in 2006.
If you haven't already joined GOA, isn't it time you did? If you are already a member, have you renewed for 2006 yet?
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