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Oct. 20, 2005

While gun control passes in the House, GOA expresses a big THANK YOU to all of its members and activists who waged a lone battle of opposition -- And you can be encouraged that your calls made a HUGE difference in one area

"The anti-gun provisions in S. 397 would probably be stripped out in the House if all the gun groups were working together with GOA." -- Rep. Ron Paul, Sept. 15, 2005

It's a shame really.

Rep. Ron Paul is totally correct. Working united, we could have encouraged the House leadership to bring up a CLEAN bill.

H.R. 800, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, garnered well over 250 cosponsors and would have passed the House easily if the leadership had brought up this bill rather than its Senate counterpart, S. 397.

Unfortunately, GOA was the ONLY national group that was not calling for passage of the Senate bill, which contained new gun control. And likewise, GOA was the ONLY national group that was pressing for passage of the clean bill, H.R. 800.

The House today passed S. 397 and sent it to the President. Because he has promised to sign this legislation, it is all the more tragic that House and Senate leaders refused to send him a clean bill.


As we have mentioned before, S. 397 imposes a mandatory "gun tax" by forcing every gun buyer to purchase a trigger lock and takes us to the verge of mandatory trigger lock usage.

The bill provides immunity (from lawsuits) for those who use trigger locks, but there is no such immunity for gun owners who keep a firearm available for self-defense WITHOUT a trigger lock.

The push towards trigger locks may very well follow the push for mandatory seat belts and motorcycle helmets. And if our country ever takes that next step -- and straps every gun owner with California-style lock-up-your-safety legislation -- then we will need to remember this day as the day that laid the foundation.

Mary Carpenter certainly will. She is the grandmother who has had to live with the fact that two of her grandchildren were killed in 2000, because no one in the house could get to the family weapons to protect themselves against the pitchfork wielding thug.

People in the home had been trained with firearms and knew how to use them. But the guns were locked up in compliance with California state law. Gun owners can go to on the GOA website to view the public safety ad -- produced by Gun Owners Foundation -- which features Mary Carpenter and her tragic story.

Another amendment which passed as part of S. 397 would give impetus to adopting a "penetration standard" for armor piercing bullets by commissioning a Justice Department study of the issue. If a "penetration standard" were adopted, a gun-adverse administration could probably use it to ban virtually all ammunition.

The Senate passed its gun control-laden version as Congress was getting ready to go out for their summer recess. At that time, Rep. Marilyn Musgrave's office had promised to mobilize pro-gun members in the House to oppose the Senate version, by asking them to join her in approaching the leadership in favor of H.R. 800. A Musgrave-led effort such as this would have made it much more likely that the House bill would have been considered. Unfortunately, Rep. Musgrave decided to do nothing, and the voices that were demanding S.397 -- gun locks and all -- carried the day.

You can see how your Representative voted by going to on the House of Representative's website.


GOA is glad that Congress has passed legislation that is intended to stop predatory law suits designed to destroy the gun industry. That much is very good, and GOA supports that 100%. GOA hopes that the law accomplishes what its sponsors intended.

Also, GOA would be remiss if we failed to mention that there is at least one "silver lining" in this entire ordeal. Don't forget that your hard work KILLED the Feinstein semi-auto ban this past summer.

Remember several months ago when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) wanted to offer a renewal of the semi-auto ban to S. 397? Gun Owners of America asked Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to use whatever means possible to block her anti-gun amendments.

Well, that request fell upon deaf ears. So we asked you to lobby him, since his office had been incorrectly asserting this strategy couldn't be done. (Some in his staff were even claiming there was no Senate rule allowing the majority party to block bad amendments.)

But after GOA members and activists like you applied the heat, Frist took another look. He then used parliamentary rules to "fill the amendment tree," which is exactly what we asked him to do. "Filling the amendment tree" is a technical term which explains how the majority party can offer amendments in such a way as to block the minority party from offering other amendments.

Democrats were beside themselves. On the floor of the Senate, Harry Reid (D-NV) complained about the strategy Frist had employed:

"I have nothing in my memory that [Sen. Frist] has ever done this before; that is, immediately going to a bill and FILLING THE TREE SO NO OTHER AMENDMENTS CAN BE OFFERED. [Emphasis added.] I have never, ever known him to do this. It is so unusual. It is not in keeping with how he has done business here during his tenure as majority leader. While filling the tree is within the rules, it is done very rarely. And again, I am surprised that Senator Frist did this." (Congressional Record, July 27, 2005, pp. S9104-5)

You guys achieved this significant victory! You guys were responsible for making the sure the Feinstein ban was never offered on the floor of the Senate. You guys deserve the credit.

It was just so unfortunate that, after achieving this great victory, Frist blinked. He could have blocked EVERY SINGLE anti-gun amendment, but he allowed two to be offered, namely, the trigger lock amendment and the armor-piercing study.

So take heart... your hard work did accomplish much. You convinced Frist to block Feinstein's ban in the first place. And that was no small undertaking.


Some have faulted GOA for remaining "no compromise" throughout this battle. They claim that by sticking to our guns, we were endangering the chance to pass this legislation that might have the effect of protecting gun makers.

First, please realize that this underestimates YOUR collective power. This ignores the power of the grassroots. Remember, GOA was also told that blocking the Feinstein ban couldn't be done through parliamentary procedures. But together, we convinced the Senate Majority Leader to think differently, and we accomplished a tremendous feat together. Don't ever underestimate the strength of the gun rights community working together as one!

Second, as a pragmatic matter, the desire to compromise ignores one simple fact: we could have EASILY won this battle to pass a clean bill! Consider:

* A filibuster-proof majority of Senators had cosponsored S. 397 BEFORE THE BILL HAD TRIGGER LOCKS in it.

* A super majority of Representatives had cosponsored H.R. 800 -- a bill which contained NO TRIGGER LOCKS in it.

* The President had said he would sign a bill, even if it had NO TRIGGER LOCKS in it.

Add to this the fact that the bills passed both houses of Congress by HUGE majorities (65-31 in the Senate, and 283-144 in the House).

So why couldn't we insist on a bill that had no trigger locks? What was the problem? Why couldn’t we stare down the anti-gunners and just say, "We're going to pass a clean bill because you don't have the votes to stop us."

Winston Churchill once said that, "If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed, if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival."

Early on, we had the upper hand. GOA was insisting on a clean bill. Why do some think that was too much to ask?

The answer is quite simply this: the spirit of Neville Chamberlain lives on, from one generation to the next. Some people just always seem to have the desire to placate the other side, even when they've got the muscle to get things done right.

Winston Churchill didn't buy it, and neither should we. Speaking to the failings of appeasement, Churchill said, "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile -- hoping it will eat him last."

Well, at GOA, we don't appease. We prefer to shoot the crocodile.

Again, thanks to all of you who worked so hard and stood with us. Your efforts have not been in vain.



"Actually, the organization that does a better job of [keeping me informed] is Gun Owners of America. I'm on their mailing list, and we know when something pops up and we're informed as to what's going on so we can write our emails and make phone calls to our respective representatives." -- C-SPAN caller from Pensacola, Florida (October 20, 2005)

We are always glad when we hear our members say they find our alerts worthwhile. GOA is here to keep you informed. And so, if you've never officially joined GOA, please consider becoming a member by signing up at or call 703-321-8585.
You can become a GOA member and help protect the Second Amendment with a contribution of $20 a year -- or a mere 5 cents a day!


Gun Owners of America E-Mail Alert
8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102
Springfield, VA 22151 Phone: 703-321-8585
FAX: 703-321-8408

To subscribe to free, low-volume GOA alerts, go to on the web. Change of e-mail address may also be made at that location.

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