GOA Activists Make Big Splash On Capitol Hill -- Gun rights report for 2007 Gun Owners of America E-Mail Alert 8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151 Phone: 703-321-8585 / FAX: 703-321-8408 http://www.gunowners.org/ordergoamem.htm ------------------------------------------------------------------ "Gun Owners of America has remained a steadfast ally. Their unwavering defense of our rights as Americans is commendable." -- Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), November 2007 ------------------------------------------------------------------ Thursday, December 13, 2007 When people look back on 2007, they may remember the several, notable shootings that took place: the massacre at Virginia Tech in April, the slayings at the Nebraska and Utah malls, and the most recent killings in Colorado -- a shooting that could have eclipsed all of the previous ones if one courageous lady, Jeanne Assam, had not been armed with a gun. Gun Owners of America has been there each step of the way, sometimes serving as the only national gun group which has regularly appeared on national television, arguing for the right to keep and bear arms. Just this week, GOA's Larry Pratt appeared on Fox News to debate the Brady Campaign in the aftermath of the Colorado-church shooting. Pratt hailed Assam as a hero and called for the elimination of gun free zones which leave victims defenseless. While GOA considers it very important to inform the general public on the practical value of the Second Amendment, there's much more that we have done to defend our freedoms in the legislative and judicial halls around the country. The following is just a glimpse of what GOA has been able to accomplish this year with YOUR HELP. So let's take a look at our work together, month by month. January * As the year dawns, Gun Owners of America is headed for the U.S. Supreme Court! GOA begins preparing its amicus brief in the FEC v. Wisconsin RTL case -- a case that became important to gun owners shortly after last year's elections when the Brady Campaign asked the Federal Election Commission to shut down GOA's ability to post its candidate ratings on the Internet. In this amicus brief, Gun Owners of America led a coalition of organizations to argue before the Supreme Court, realizing that a victory at the nation's highest court would take the wind out of Brady's sails and protect the right of GOA members and the public to read our candidate ratings on the Internet. (See "June Part 2" for the final resolution of this case.) * In Congress, GOA wins an early battle against legislation introduced by Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) that would have required GOA to monitor and report on its communications with its members and friends (like you). GOA helps produce an outpouring of calls against this anti-speech language (S. 1), and the pernicious text is subsequently dropped from the bill. February -- March * GOA spends a lot of time in the state legislatures during the early part of the year lobbying for bills that would protect the right of self-defense (a.k.a., the Castle Doctrine) and would allow law-abiding gun owners to carry firearms without getting permission from the government (known as Vermont-style carry). * GOA also begins lobbying for bills that would outlaw gun confiscations during declared emergencies. Gun Owners helps citizens of Arizona and Montana to become the most recent states to outlaw the type of gun thefts that occurred in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. More than a dozen states have now enacted such laws. * In the nation's capital, GOA begins its campaign against the Veterans Disarmament Act and activates its members all over the country to oppose the legislation introduced by the Queen of Gun Control, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D) of New York. (More on this below.) April -- May * As the nation watches the horrifying images coming from Virginia Tech on April 16, gun control advocates heighten their calls for greater restrictions. GOA spokesmen spend countless hours on Capitol Hill and in the media. In just the first two weeks following the shooting, GOA appeared in several hundred news outlets across the country (newspaper articles, radio talk shows and TV debates). * The April shooting jumpstarts anti-gun legislation sponsored by Rep. McCarthy and Senator Chuck Schumer. In the name of stopping bad guys like the Virginia Tech gunman, the Veterans Disarmament Act would disarm hundreds of thousands of military veterans who are suffering the ailments that frequently follow combat stress. * Gun Owners of America begins activating its grassroots network on a weekly basis (sometimes more), generating thousands upon thousands of e-mails and phone calls into the House of Representatives in opposition to the Veterans Disarmament Act. June (Part 1) * Betrayal! The House Democrat leadership secretly conspires to bring up the Veterans Disarmament Act. Republicans find out the bill is coming to the floor with only a couple of hours lead time. On June 13, the bill passes without a recorded vote, and very few Representatives are even present on the floor of the House. As the bill moves to the Senate, GOA continues fighting the bill and works to get other groups to join the battle. On June 18, the Military Order of the Purple Heart takes a strong position against the McCarthy-Schumer text. * In other legislative battles, GOA helps kill an anti-gun immigration bill that was introduced by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA). The bill contains harmful language which, in the hands of a future anti-gun administration, would allow gun shops to be shut down and classified as "criminal gangs." GOA gins up the grassroots in favor of a killer amendment that brings the huge debate over the amnesty bill to a screeching halt. That one amendment is credited by Capitol Hill insiders as being the biggest reason this anti-gun bill was defeated by a 53-46 vote in the Senate. June (Part 2) * Big news. GOA's Political Victory Fund raises thousands of dollars for GOA Life Member Dr. Paul Broun, who is running to replace the late Charlie Norwood in Georgia. The Republican Broun wins the special election by 373 votes and is now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives! * More big news. The Supreme Court rules in favor of GOA in the FEC v. Wisconsin RTL case! This victory makes it almost certain that GOA will receive a favorable ruling from the Federal Election Commission in August, thus allowing GOA to continue posting its candidate ratings on the Internet. July -- August * As the Congress prepares to go on recess, GOA registers its complaints with an executive agency (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) after it proposed regulations that could bring the sale and transportation of ammunition in this country to a halt. Less than two weeks later, the Labor Department (which oversees OSHA) withdraws the regulations and states that, "OSHA is taking prompt action to revise [and] clarify the purpose of the regulation." * GOA beats the Brady Campaign in the battle at the Federal Election Commission! The FEC dismisses the Brady Bunch's complaint against Gun Owners and states that we have broken no laws in posting our candidate ratings which educate the public. September * With Congress returning from their summer break, GOA continues to generate a flood of e-mails, postcards, letters and faxes into Senatorial offices -- all in opposition to the Veterans Disarmament Act. * The fight against the McCarthy-Schumer bill is gaining steam, and GOA announces two key allies are joining the fight against the Veterans Disarmament Act. First, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) places a hold on the Schumer bill -- a "hold" being a parliamentary maneuver which stalls the legislation and keeps it from easily advancing. The Coburn hold has continued to bottle up the bill until this very day. Second, the American Legion informs Senator Coburn that it is opposed to the Veterans Disarmament Act, as it would "abrogate the rights of certain service-connected disabled veterans to own firearms, a right guaranteed by the Second Amendment." * In other issues, GOA works closely with Senator David Vitter (R-LA) to craft language which stipulates that no U.S. funds can be used by the United Nations -- or organizations affiliated with the UN -- to restrict or tax our gun rights. Sen. Vitter pushes the pro-gun language through the U.S. Senate on an 81-10 vote, as an amendment to the Department of State appropriations bill. October * GOA's founder and chairman, Sen. H.L. "Bill" Richardson (ret.), issues an open letter to the gun community urging them to encourage ALL PRO-GUN groups to stand united in opposition to the Veterans Disarmament Act. You can see the letter at http://www.gunowners.org/a100407.htm on the GOA website. The letter states unequivocally that no compromise is acceptable on the McCarthy-Schumer legislation. * GOA activates its supporters in opposition to the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), as it could allow the UN to force the closing of firing ranges based on the bogus argument that runoff from these ranges pollutes the world's oceans. November -- December * Gun Owners Foundation begins preparing an amicus brief for the U.S. Supreme Court after the justices decide to take up Washington, D.C.'s appeal after its gun ban is declared unconstitutional. An appellate court ruled in March that the city's draconian gun ban violated the Second Amendment of the Constitution. The DC v. Heller case will likely be heard next spring. * Gun Owners Foundation is also continuing its defense of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean -- the two border patrol agents who were convicted of shooting a Mexican drug smuggler on the U.S. side of the border. GOF attorneys filed an amicus brief earlier in the year which argued that Ramos and Compean were falsely convicted of "firing a gun during the commission of a crime" -- a crime that doesn't even exist in federal law. While the "firing a gun" charge can serve as a sentence enhancement to an underlying crime, the prosecutor would have to show that the two border agents were unlawfully carrying firearms -- a ludicrous idea! It became very clear in December that two of the three judges hearing the agents' appeal were very familiar with GOF's arguments, as their questions to the prosecutor repeatedly focused on this particular area of federal law. Prospects look good for a decision reversing their conviction next year. * When the Senate recently came within a couple of hours of unanimously approving the anti-gun Michael Sullivan for the position of BATFE Director, GOA sent an emergency fax to every Senate office, urging them to oppose the Sullivan nomination. Thankfully, one senator filed an official objection to Sullivan, and his nomination was temporarily stalled. GOA then generated a massive outpouring of opposition from its activists, which resulted in yet another Senator placing a "hold" on the Sullivan nomination. The anti-gun appointment has now been put off until next year. PLEASE CONTINUE TO STAND WITH GOA IN 2008! The ability of GOA to continue putting pressure on politicians depends on loyal activists like you. GOA has been the national leader when it comes to opposing the Veterans Disarmament Act. In October, The Politico stated, "Gun Owners of America... has launched grassroots efforts across the nation, backed by military groups such as the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the American Legion." Even as far back as April, Newsweek noted that, "The Gun Owners of America [has] already launched a public campaign to block the [McCarthy] legislation that the NRA supports, warning that the proposal could 'block millions of additional, honest gun owners from buying firearms.'" We can only continue fighting this pernicious legislation as long as you continue to stand with us. You can stand with us today by joining GOA at http://www.gunowners.org/ordergoamem.htm (or renewing your existing membership there). Thank you for your support.