The Year In Review – NRA-ILA Grassroots Alert Vol. 15, No. 49
Here are some of the top stories we brought you in the NRA-ILA Grassroots Alert in 2008. With what will no doubt be a very busy 2009, we must redouble our efforts to ensure we are prepared to meet the opportunities and challenges we will face next year. We will continue to provide you with information in future Alerts to ensure our mutual success. (NOTE: The next regular Grassroots Alert will be transmitted on Friday, January, 9.)
- The District of Columbia files its brief in District of Columbia v. Heller. Nearly two dozen briefs are filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by individuals and groups supporting D.C.'s bans on handguns, having a gun assembled within the home, and carrying a gun within the home. The U.S. Supreme Court schedules oral arguments in the District of Columbia v. Heller case for March 18th.
- H.R. 4900 – the “Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Reform and Firearms Modernization Act”-is introduced. H.R. 4900 represents the NRA's latest efforts to pass legislation that will make it easier for lawful gun owners and dealers to comply with federal law and regulations, while ensuring that those who break the law are punished accordingly.
- The District Columbia Court of Appeals finds that the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act” (PLCAA) blocks lawsuits under D.C.'s “Strict Liability Act.”
- In his capacity as President of the United States Senate, Vice President Cheney signs on to the congressional amicus curiae brief affirming the individual rights view of the Second Amendment. Led by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), the bi-partisan majorities of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives who sign the brief represent the largest number of co-signers of a congressional amicus brief in American history-55 members of the Senate and 250 members of the House co-signed this brief along with Vice President Cheney.
- After nearly five years of effort by NRA-ILA, the U.S. Department of the Interior responds to the many requests for a change in its policy on carrying and transporting firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. In a letter to the U.S. Senators who wrote him asking for this policy change, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne directs Lyle Laverty, Assistant Secretary for Fish, Game and Parks, to “develop and propose for public comment by April 30, Federal regulations that will update firearms policies on these lands to reflect existing Federal laws (such as those prohibiting weapons in Federal buildings) and the laws by which the host States govern transporting and carrying of firearms on their analogous public lands.”
- The “Grassroots Minute” video component is added to the Alert.
- The Supreme Court hears the Heller case. Most in the Supreme Court chamber seem to agree that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. The issues most in contention include the meaning of the words “keep” and “bear,” and whether the amendment protects the possession of arms only during militia service or also for self-defense; whether a total ban on handguns is a “reasonable” regulation of firearms; whether restrictions on the right to arms should be subject to “strict scrutiny,” or legislatures or courts should be able to decide what is “reasonable;” and what kinds of regulations would be “reasonable” under the Second Amendment.
- To allow easily access and the ability to navigate through all of the detailed information we've compiled on District of Columbia v. Heller, NRA-ILA unveils a new webpage-http://www.nraila.org/heller/-that contains related articles and the dozens of amicus briefs filed in the case.
- A Gallup poll finds that an overwhelming majority of the United States public-73%-believes that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of Americans to own firearms.
- The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) releases Ballistic Imaging, the report of a committee it assigned to evaluate the feasibility, accuracy, and technical capability of a possible national database of so-called “ballistic” images from all new guns sold in the United States. The committee considered dozens of factors, including the uniqueness of images, the ability of imaging systems to capture images, the odds against images in a database being matched with cartridge cases and/or bullets found at crime scenes, the fact that “there is a huge existing supply of weapons and ammunition that would not be entered into the database,” and the fact that criminals can beat the system by using guns that do not leave brass at crime scenes, such as revolvers. The committee concludes, “A national reference ballistic image database should not be established.”
- A sad day for American gun owners; on Saturday, April 5, Charlton Heston passes away. With his passing, NRA loses a past President, dear friend, and fearless advocate, while America loses a great patriot and the Second Amendment, a faithful friend. Two resolutions honoring Mr. Heston-H.Res. 1091 by Congressman Don Young (R-AK), and S.Res. 512 by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)-are introduced in the two houses of Congress.
- Another new feature is added to the Grassroots Alert- a weekly three-question poll that will help us better understand how our readers feel about current events, politics, and the direction of our cause and our country.
- Obama's hypocrisy continues. Following on reports of his advocacy of a law to shut down gun shops, and his hollow attempt at reassuring pro-gun voters by telling them, “I have no intention of taking away folks' guns,” Obama then tells the Pittsburgh Tribune “I am not in favor of concealed weapons,” and that he favors “.reasonable, thoughtful gun control measure[s]..” A campaign “fact sheet” touts Obama's support for sportsmen, claiming Obama “greatly respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms” (note the failure to say “keep” and bear arms). But the “fine print” reads, “He also believes that the right is subject to reasonable and commonsense regulation.”
- The faux “pro-gun” group, American Hunters & Shooters Association (AHSA) does what any pro-gun group would do (sarcasm intended)-they endorse Barack Obama-American's most anti-gun presidential candidate.
- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit delivers a major blow to New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's lawsuit aimed at bankrupting the firearm industry, by ruling that the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act” (PLCAA) of 2005 blocks the city's lawsuit against a host of gun makers and distributor. Activist U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein announces he will allow New York City's lawsuit against Adventure Outdoors, a Georgia gun store, to continue.
- 180 staunch, pro-gun patriots attend the NRA-ILA Grassroots Workshop, held in conjunction with NRA's Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Louisville, Ky.
- After reports in the NRA-ILA Grassroots Alert, a North Carolina school district backs off a decision that prevented a group of young sportsmen and women from participating in the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Hunter Education Tournament.
- On June 26, 2008, the Supreme Court affirms, in a 5-4 decision, the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that the Second Amendment protects a pre-existing, private, individually-held Right to Keep Arms and to Bear Arms, without regard to a person's relationship to a militia!
- NRA files five lawsuits challenging local gun bans in San Francisco, and in Chicago and several of its suburbs.
- A Pennsylvania court sides with NRA and issues a permanent restraining order against two of the city of Philadelphia's municipal gun control measures enacted in April. The measures, banning so-called “assault weapons” and restricting handgun purchases to one per month, violate Pennsylvania's state preemption laws, passed by the state legislature to maintain uniformity of gun laws.
- Ohio Governor Ted Strickland (D) signs NRA-backed “Castle Doctrine” legislation into law to expand the self-defense rights of law-abiding citizens.
- The NRA-supported “Open Fields Initiative” language is inserted into the House and Senate passed 2008 Farm Bill. The original bills, SB 1502 and HR 2473, made up the Voluntary Public Access and Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program to increase public access to private hunting grounds.
- NRA-ILA unveils its new “I'm a Bitter Gun Owner and I Vote!” yard signs.
- In the wake of the historic Supreme Court decision protecting an individual right to possess firearms, the town of Wilmette, Illinois repeals its handgun ban that has been on the books for almost 20 years.
- Rather than closing the prescribed comment period as scheduled and moving toward allowing law-abiding citizens to carry their legally-owned firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges, U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), succeed in delaying the implementation of the final rule by bullying the Department of the Interior (their respective congressional subcommittees have oversight of national parks) to extend the deadline for comments an additional 30 days.
- D.C.'s Mayor and City Council are sued again over the District's thinly veiled attempt to continue its restrictions on firearm ownership following the Heller ruling. The Supreme Court explicitly articulated that handguns are constitutionally-protected, yet the District's Firearms Control Emergency Amendment Act of 2008 bans all semi-automatic handguns and requires any firearm in the home to be disassembled, unloaded, and secured by locking devices unless there is an “immediate” threat of violence, even for innocuous purposes such as cleaning.
- The “Second Amendment Enforcement Act” (H.R. 6691) is introduced. This NRA-backed legislation is needed to enforce the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller. The “Second Amendment Enforcement Act” seeks to repeal the District's ban on semi-automatic handguns; restore the right of self-defense by repealing the requirement that firearms be disassembled or secured with a trigger lock in the home; reform the current D.C. registration system that requires multiple visits to police headquarters, ballistics testing, passing a written test on D.C. gun laws, fingerprinting, and limiting registration to one handgun per 90 days; and, create a limited exemption to the federal ban on interstate handgun sales by allowing D.C. residents to purchase handguns in Virginia and Maryland.
- The Village of Morton Grove, Illinois agrees to a stipulated dismissal of a NRA lawsuit challenging the village's gun ban. A new town ordinance recognizes the right to private handgun ownership, bringing an end to NRA's lawsuit against the village. Morton Grove completely repeals its ordinance banning handguns and agrees not to replace it with any direct regulation other than to adopt existing state laws.
- AHSA makes the ridiculous argument that NRA is anti-hunting because NRA does not support the same candidates that Sierra Club and other environmental groups support. The problem is, these groups rate candidates on their radical environmental record, not on their support for hunting or for gun owners' rights. In fact, the politicians endorsed by the Sierra Club are a “Who's Who” of the most anti-gun politicians in American history. Gun-ban advocates like Barack Obama, John Kerry, Charles Schumer, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer, Frank Lautenberg, Jack Reed, and Teddy Kennedy have all been endorsed by the Sierra Club. Since Teddy Kennedy wants to ban almost all ammunition used by hunters in America, it is impossible to see how the Sierra Club is supporting hunters by endorsing him.
- The U.S. House of Representatives votes to approve the NRA-backed “Second Amendment Enforcement Act” by an overwhelming bi-partisan vote of 266-152.
- NRA-PVF launches a comprehensive and very informative Web site-GunBanObama.com-to serve as a resource for the facts on Barack Obama's anti-Second Amendment stance.
- The FBI releases its crime report for 2007 and, once again, gun control supporters take it on the chin. “More guns means more crime?” Only in anti-gunner “La-La Land.” Violent crime has fallen as the number of guns has increased 4.5 million a year. There are more gun owners, owning more guns than ever before, and violent crime is lower than anytime since Gerald Ford became president!
- A new study from researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Maryland finds “no evidence that gun shows lead to substantial increases in either gun homicides or suicides. In addition, tighter regulation of gun shows does not appear to reduce the number of firearm-related deaths.” The study-“The Effect of Gun Shows on Gun-Related Deaths: Evidence from California and Texas” (www.closup.umich.edu/research/
workingpapers/papers/gunshows-sept08-final.pdf)-compares gun deaths between 1994-2004 in two states with large numbers of gun shows annually: California, which has the greatest restrictions on gun shows, and Texas, which has none.
- In an open letter to our nation's gun owners, hunters, and sportsmen, Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) Executive Director Richard Pearson, whose credentials include deep involvement in the firearm rights movement for more than 40 years, including serving as the chief lobbyist for the ISRA for the past 15 years, uses his personal experiences to highlight Barack Obama's true stance on the Second Amendment.
- The New Jersey Senate votes 32 to 6 to pass S802, legislation that authorizes bow hunting on Sundays during the respective deer season dates set by the State Fish and Game Code.
- Pennsylvania's governor signs House Bill 1845 into effect. HB1845 is an omnibus legislative package that contains a number of pro-gun provisions for Pennsylvania gun owners. Among the provisions is an “Emergency Powers” reform measure prohibiting any government agency from confiscating firearms during a state of emergency, such as occurred in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Other important provisions include: establishing the lawful carry of a concealed firearm in state parks; funding for the acclaimed “Don't Lie For The Other Guy” program administered by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF); and an emergency permitting system for concealed carry licenses for individuals who are under immediate threat.
- Barack Obama is elected President and immediately begins to disrespect gun owners with a number of staff appointments. Potential Administration employees are asked, “Do you or any members of your immediate family own a gun? If so, provide complete ownership and registration information. Has the registration ever lapsed? Please also describe how and by whom it is used and whether it has been the cause of any personal injuries or property damage.”
- The extremist animal “rights” group, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) once again calls for a nationwide ban on lead ammunition, saying that studies by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the North Dakota Department of Health prove that game shot with lead ammunition poses a health threat to those who consume it.
- The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), through the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announces the final amended version of its changes to rules on carrying of firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. DOI's move will restore the rights of law-abiding gun owners who wish to transport and carry firearms for lawful purposes on most DOI lands, and will make federal law consistent with the state law in which these public lands are located.
NRA will be closed on Thursday, December 25, Friday, December 26, Thursday January 1, and Friday, January 2. Because of this abbreviated schedule, we will not transmit the Grassroots Alert over the next two weeks.
We will re-open on Monday, January 5, at 8:30 a.m., EST, and will resume our normal Friday Grassroots Alert transmission schedule on January 9.
Please have a safe and happy Holiday season!