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DOJ REAFFIRMS CONSTITUTION PROTECTS INDIVIDUAL RIGHT TO ARMS

U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson sent gun-ban extremists into a state of virtual "collective" apoplexy when he submitted the federal government`s briefs in two cases that are up for consideration by the Supreme Court of the United States.  Why?  Because the filings state the federal government holds the accurate view that the Second Amendment protects an individual right.  This position was also spelled out last year in a letter from U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to then-NRA-ILA Executive Director James Jay Baker (the Ashcroft letter was also included with Olson`s filings), and represents a complete reversal of the Clinton-Gore Administration`s fabrication that the Second Amendment protects a "collective" right of states to maintain militias.

    Olson -- whose position as Solicitor General requires him to defend federal laws when they are challenged in the courts -- asked the Supreme Court to deny certiorari (decline to review) to two firearm-related cases -- U.S. v. Emerson and U.S. v. Haney.  And while the briefs in both cases clearly reaffirmed that the Second Amendment protects an individual right, Olson also argued that the laws under review are constitutional.  This position is based on the government`s view that the Second Amendment allows "reasonable restrictions designed to prevent possession [of firearms] by unfit persons or to restrict the possession of types of firearms that are particularly suited to criminal misuse."  Olson also clearly stated the Department of Justice (DOJ) will continue to defend "all existing federal firearms laws," and explains the DOJ "has a solemn obligation both to enforce federal laws and to respect the constitutional rights guaranteed to Americans."

    Anti-gun extremists have reacted to Olson`s filings with the expected wailing.  Michael Barnes, President of the gun-ban lobby formerly known as HCI, complained that an "extreme ideology on guns has now become government policy."  He failed to explain how the Bush Administration`s position is "extreme" when it mirrors the belief of the vast majority of the American people.

    U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who claims to support the individual right to bear arms, complained that the DOJ acted "without any consultation, any notice, any discussion" -- apparently implying he feels the DOJ should report to the U.S. Senate, rather than the White House -- then stated he feared that anti-gun laws at the state level may suffer as a consequence.
He railed, "f New York City had Arizona`s gun laws, Times Square would look like the OK Corral."   Schumer seems to forget that Arizona, with firearm laws that are far less restrictive than those of New York City, has much less violent crime.  Is the New York senator asserting that his constituents are not as responsible or law-abiding as the citizens of Arizona?

    The radical Violence Policy Center (VPC) -- a shrill outspoken advocate of banning all hand-guns -- went a step farther.  It convinced an attorney from a prestigious New York law firm to write to Olson, objecting to the DOJ mentioning anything about the Second Amendment protecting an individual right.  The VPC was so eager to protest that the 15-page letter was sent before Olson`s briefs were made public.  And while Matt Nosanchuk, the VPC`s Litigation Director and Legislative Counsel, claimed the organization was simply "anticipating" what Olson might do, it is important to note that Nosanchuk previously served in the DOJ under Bill Clinton and Al Gore, and was likely given advance warning via a leak from career DOJ employees who still support the anti-gun policies of the previous administration.  It appears VPC in all likelihood improperly obtained advance copies of the briefs -- still further proof this group is willing to illegitimately manipulate the resources of our government to advance its gun-ban agenda.

    The anti-gun organization that calls itself "Americans for Gun Safety" (AGS) has been far less vocal about the recent actions of the DOJ, in large part because it was too busy launching a deceptive ad campaign aimed at abolishing traditional American gun shows.  But perhaps the lack of an AGS position on the DOJ`s most recent actions are also part of a carefully calculated strategy to continue to mislead the general public as to its true intentions.  The group has tried to separate itself from other anti-gun organizations by claiming it supports the right to own firearms, so one would think it would leap at the opportunity to praise the DOJ`s position.  But Newsday reported AGS spokesman Matthew Bennet (formerly an aide in the Clinton White House) was concerned the briefs "raise questions about the enforceability of gun laws and, importantly, leaves open the question about whether new gun laws could be enforced."  It will be interesting to see if AGS remains relatively silent on the DOJ`s actions in order to continue the charade that it supports the rights of law-abiding gun owners, or if it will choose to expose its true anti-gun agenda by condemning the government`s position that the Second Amendment protects an individual right.

    Ultimately, what Olson`s briefs will mean to the overall debate over gun control remains to be seen.  NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox cautioned that it is too early to tell what the impact on existing laws will be, but also stated, "[O]bviously we`re pleased by this. This is a very good start."  And most constitutional and legal experts concur.  George Mason University Professor Nelson Lund told the Washington Times, "The decision seems largely symbolic.  We don`t have any way of knowing whether it`s going to have any practical effect at all.  If so, it will be quite some time before we see an effect."  Attorney Stephen Halbrook, who successfully argued a challenge to the Brady Act before the Supreme Court, told the Times, "No court is going to be persuaded because the government says [supporting the individual right to arms is] their policy.  It`s what they`ve got to back it up that matters"

    But make no mistake, Olson`s filing is a welcome sign that the DOJ will support and view the Second Amendment as our Founding Fathers had originally intended -- a protection of an individual right to arms.  Chris Cox told the LA Times, "It should come as no surprise that this attorney general has followed through on his correct interpretation that the Second Amendment is an individual right, following through not only in word but in deed."

HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE APPROVES RECKLESS LAWSUIT PREEMPTION BILL

The U.S. House Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee approved H.R. 2037 on Thursday.  This bill, introduced by U.S. Representatives Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Chris John (D-La.), seeks to block politically-motivated lawsuits that attempt to hold gun makers liable for the criminal misuse of their products.  H.R. 2037 currently has 225 co-sponsors, and was approved on Thursday by a voice vote.  Representatives Stearns and John deserve a great deal of thanks for their efforts to guide this critical legislation through the House.

    In addition, S. 2268, the Senate`s companion to the House reckless lawsuit preemption bill, has been introduced by U.S. Senators Larry Craig (R-Id.) and Zell Miller (D-Ga.).  It has five co-sponsors, and needs more.  Please call both your U.S. Senators and urge them to co-sponsor S. 2268. You can reach your Senators by calling (202) 224-3121. For those on the Internet, you can find additional contact information by using our "Write Your Reps" tool at www.NRAILA.org.

ILA GRASSROOTS MOURNS PASSING OF TWO PATRIOTS

NRA, and the ILA Grassroots Division in particular, lost two of its staunchest defenders in recent days.

    Cal Ellis, longtime President of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, died in his sleep on the eve of NRA`s Board Meeting in Reno, Nevada.  Cal was a good friend and familiar face to the Grassroots Division, securing New Jersey Election Volunteer Coordinators (EVCs) for the Garden State, and attending and speaking at numerous Grassroots-Election Workshops and Annual Meetings.  His widow, Lyn, is also a very active member of the pro-Second Amendment community.

    ILA`s EVC for Indiana`s newly-drawn Third Congressional District, John Carney, was shot and killed last Friday after he entered a liquor store where a robbery was in progress.  John had recently attended the Grassroots-Election Workshop in Fort Wayne, Ind., on Saturday, April 20, and was actively engaged in providing pro-gun volunteers to the campaign efforts of pro-gun U.S. Representative Mark Souder ®, who soundly beat his anti-gun Republican primary challenger on Tuesday.

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to Cal`s and John`s families.  Their friendship and activism in defense of our rights will truly be missed.

60 MINUTES TO FEATURE PRO-GUN DOCTOR

This Sunday, May 12, the CBS news program 60 Minutes will include a segment that will raise the issue of whether doctors should ask patients about owning firearms.  Dr. Timothy Wheeler, director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership (DRGO), is scheduled to appear.  DRGO is an organization of more that 1,300 physician-members nationwide, and the organization supports the safe, lawful use of firearms.  Be sure to check your local listings for this Sunday`s broadcast.

NRA-ILA ELECTION WORKSHOPS

In preparation for the upcoming campaign season, NRA-ILA is hosting FREE Grassroots-Election Workshops in several areas across the country.  The first upcoming event will be in Mahwah, New Jersey, on May 22, followed by one in Charleston, West Virginia, on June 1.  Three Workshops are scheduled for Arkansas -- Fayetteville on June 4, Jonesboro on June 6, and Little Rock on June 8 -- and there will be two held on June 15 -- one in Orlando, Florida, and one in Dearborn, Michigan.  At these Workshops, you will learn what you can do in your own community to ensure pro-gun candidates are elected to office this election season.  NRA members who are interested in attending should contact the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683 for details and to reserve their spots.  NRA members who have access to the Internet can also reserve their spots on-line by going to http://www.nraila.org/WorkShops.asp.

PRIMARY ELECTIONS

NEBRASKA and WEST VIRGINIA will both host primary elections this Tuesday, May 14.  NRA members in these states should have already received information on candidates endorsed by NRA-Political Victory Fund in the primary election, so please be sure to go to the polls and support pro-gun candidates for office.  NRA members in these states who have not received this information can call the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683.

A LOOK AT THE STATES

ARIZONA:

Gun owners won an important battle in the Arizona State Senate on Monday, May 6, with the defeat of HB 2329, the "Crime Gun Interdiction" bill.  This victory over AGS, the gun control group that was promoting this bill, can be attributed to an overwhelming grassroots campaign of gun owners and sportsmen.  Congratulations to all of you who contacted your legislators.  You made the difference!  For a detailed account of this important victory, go to www.NRAILA.org, then select "Arizona Legislative Update" from the NRA-ILA Action Alert section, or call NRA-ILA Grassroots at (800) 392-8683 for a copy.

COLORADO:

On Tuesday, May 7, the Colorado Senate defeated HB 1410, sponsored by Rep. Lois Tochtrop (D-34) and Sen. Ken Chlouber (R-4).  The bill, which would have established a uniform "shall issue" Right to Carry permit system, made it all the way through the House of Representatives and the Senate Agriculture Committee before being derailed by five members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  Your NRA-ILA attempted to revive the bill in the House, but time ran out when the legislative session officially ended on Wednesday.  Thanks to your efforts and unprecedented support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, HB 1410 almost became law.  But despite your phone calls and letters, five members of the Appropriations Committee decided to substitute their own judgment for that of the other 31 Senators (not to mention the House of Representatives).  For a list of the Appropriations Committee Members and how they voted, go to www.NRAILA.org and select the Colorado alert under the section called NRA-ILA Action Alerts, or call NRA-ILA Grassroots at (800) 392-8683.

DELAWARE:

Please make plans to come to the State Capitol on Tuesday, May 14, to talk to your State Senators and urge them to vote against Senate Bill 190.  Gun owners will meet that day between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. on the west front steps of Legislative Hall (near the Police Memorial) in Dover, where they will receive information from an NRA Representative on the most effective way to show your opposition to SB 190.  Members of the "Million Mom March" are expected to show up, so don`t allow the pro-freedom voice to be drowned out by their emotional tirades!  SB 190 would mandate all handguns sold or transferred by a licensed gun dealer be accompanied by a trigger-locking device.  This bill also seeks to ban the sale or transfer, after January 1, 2003, of all handguns that are not equipped with a so-called  "integrated mechanical safety device."  That mandate will outlaw the sale of virtually ALL models of handguns on the market today!

NEW YORK:

Senate Bills 2279, 2302 and 3746, all of which seek to make improvements to the state`s pistol licensing system, are on the calendar for third reading in the Senate.  Please contact your Senators today and urge them to give their full support to these critical reforms!  For contact information, call the Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683, or use the "Write Your Reps" tool at www.NRAILA.org.

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