The Second Amendment Takes Another Hit

Domestic confiscation bill, road-block gun ban passes Congress

Special GOA Alert

(703)321-8585, http://www.gunowners.org

(Wednesday, October 2) -- The Congress sent President Clinton several gun control provisions as part of the omnibus spending bill. The President signed the bill late Monday night after both houses had overwhelming passed the bill (House: 370-37; Senate: 84-15).

The anti-gunners in Congress succeeded in passing several amendments in the name of defending women and children. Despite the rhetoric, the provisions will not accomplish what was claimed and blow even more holes in our Second Amendment freedoms. Here's the "cliff notes" you will need to hold your legislators accountable. What follows is a brief summary of what passed, the practical problems with those provisions, and a listing of who voted right:

Road-block Gun Ban (Sec. 657 of the Treasury-Postal portion of H.R. 3610):

a. Sets up thousands of gun ban zones across roads statewide where local police or the BATF can arrest unsuspecting drivers who have a firearm in the car. Victims will face 5 years in prison.

b. Also known as the Kohl amendment, this provision reenacts the School Zone Gun Ban law ruled unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court last year (U.S. v. Lopez, 1995). The provision creates gun ban zones nearly one-half mile in diameter around every school in the country.

c. Anyone without a pistol carry license driving through a zone with an unloaded firearm, that is not in a locked container or rack, faces 5 years in prison. (This would apply even to off-duty police officers, despite ineptly crafted exceptions in the Kohl language.) Many who were previously able to drive freely with guns, either in plain view or in the glove compartment, can now be victimized by anti-gun local police and/or BATF agents.

d. And finally, just a couple of other quirks that result from the law: a) Because of the way "school" is defined in the Title 18 of the U.S. Code, the school zone gun ban could outlaw the possession of firearms by parents who home school their kids; and b) For a person who lives within 1,000 feet of a school, any hunting trip would constitute a legal labyrinth. He or she could not carry the gun to a car parked on the street unless he determined that such action was approved by school officials.

Domestic Confiscation (Sec. 658 of the Treasury-Postal portion of H.R. 3610):

a. Frank Lautenberg, who has an "F-" rating from GOA, originally cosponsored the so-called domestic confiscation provision with anti-gun Senators Dianne Feinstein and Edward Kennedy as S. 1632. The largest wholesale firearms confiscation effort in decades, this provision bans thousands upon thousands of Americans from owning firearms for life, and orders their guns seized. For now this gun ban only applies to domestic dispute misdemeanors, but it sets a very bad precedent, since previously only felons have been stripped of their rights. (Note: This provision could strip many law-enforcement officers, previously convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors, of their ability to carry firearms.)

b. Rep. Bob Barr introduced an NRA-supported amendment as a compromise. But even Barr's language was altered after protests from Clinton and Senate Democrats. The Barr provision -- perhaps best termed as the "Lautenberg Lite" provision -- would have reduced some of the problems with the original version, but it still extended the gun ban into the area of misdemeanors (a bad precedent).

c. The Lautenberg-Barr provision which passed the Congress threatens to disarm the very women that it is supposed to help. The provision would impose a lifetime gun ban on anyone who has been convicted of "us[ing] or attempt[ing to] use ... physical force" in a domestic situation. Of course, this "use of force" language can cover anyone (both men and women) who gets involved in a little spat between spouses, roommates, lovers, etc.

d. The "use or attempted use of force" language will not only affect women who might throw a lamp at their spouse (like the First Lady), it will also endanger parents who spank their children. (Parents convicted of a domestic misdemeanor for spanking will now have to forfeit their guns or else become felons -- for being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.) This provision federalizes a state issue and is clearly unconstitutional (under the 2nd and 10th Amendments for starters).

e. What is the answer? If an act of domestic violence is serious enough to lose your civil right to own guns, then it should be a felony, which persons already were prohibited from owning firearms. If it is not serious, it should be treated as a misdemeanor -- a penalty which historically has not forced one to forfeit his or her rights.

GOA opposed the Lautenberg-Barr "compromise." Gun Owners of America lobbied against every version of the Lautenberg provision that surfaced. Each time, GOA reminded Congressmen that a vote for expanding a gun ban is a vote for gun control. But rather than take a "no compromise" position, most Congressmen opted to just "limit the damage." It would be like a victim telling a mugger who wants $100 that "if you only take $50 we'll just call it even." Whether it's $50 or $100, the victim has still been robbed.

Likewise, gun owners got robbed this past weekend. We were forced to give up ground without getting anything in return. Gun owners should not excuse those Congressmen who voted for this so-called compromise. In reality, there was no compromise since our firearms rights were not advanced in any way. We neither got a revocation of the semi-auto ban, nor did we get a repeal -- or even some exceptions to -- the Brady registration law. (Rather, more people will now be rejected after Brady checks.) We got nothing. So don't let your Congressmen tell you he voted for a compromise. When two people compromise, each side gets something. Ask him what we got in return. If he can't tell you, suggest to him that what he did was abdicate his duty to defend the Bill of Rights.

More than 300 Representatives join Schumer in trimming the Second Amendment. Once again, many of the freshmen Republicans led the way in opposing the assault on our liberties. The vote in the House was 370-37; the following Reps. VOTED PRO-GUN by voting AGAINST H.R. 3610: Barcia (MI), Barton (TX), Becerra (CA), Beilenson (CA), Burr (NC), Chabot (OH), Chenoweth (ID), Coble (NC), Coburn (OK), Coleman (TX), Cooley (OR), Cox (CA), DeFazio (OR), Duncan (TN), Hall (TX), Hefley (CO), Hoekstra (MI), Hyde (IL), Istook (OK), Jacobs (IN), Kanjorski (PA), Kaptur (OH), Klink (PA), Klug (WI), Largent (OK), Nadler (NY), Neumann (WI), Rohrabacher (CA), Roybal-Allard (CA ), Salmon (AZ), Sanford (SC), Scarborough (FL), Schroeder (CO), Sensenbrenner (WI), Stearns (FL), Stockman (TX), and Tiahrt (KS).

Thank the above Reps. and hold the others accountable. (NOTE: the following is a list of the 26 Reps. that missed the vote: Baker (LA), Berman (CA), Blumenauer (OR), Boucher (VA), Cardin (MD), Collins (MI), Conyers (MI), Dellums (CA), Dornan (CA), Durbin (IL), Filner (CA), Flake (NY ), Fowler (FL), Frank (MA), Green (TX), Hancock (MO), Hayes (LA), Heineman (NC), LaFalce (NY), Lincoln (AR), Lipinski (IL), Menendez (NJ), Myers (IN), Quillen (TN), Taylor (NC), Waters (CA), and Waxman (CA). If your Rep. is not listed in either of the groups above, then he voted for the bill!)

Everything, including the kitchen sink, put into H.R. 3610:

a. Besides the two gun bans mentioned above, legislators also threw in the study on placing taggants in black and smokeless powders -- a provision which had previously stalled in the Congress. (Source: Sec. 113(2) of the general provisions of the Justice Department Title in H.R. 3610.)

b. The bill gives the BATF a PAY INCREASE of almost $100 million dollars for next year --$16 million in the regular budget plus an additional $66 million for anti-terrorism efforts. (Source: Titles I and VII of the Treasury-Postal provisions.)

c. H.R. 3610 continues the language included in the previous year's budget prohibiting the BATF from "investigat[ing] or act[ing] upon applications for relief from Federal firearms disabilities." This means that non-violent offenders who lose their gun rights won't be getting them restored any time soon. (Source: Title I of the Treasury-Postal provisions.)

d. The so-called digital telephony provision will threaten the privacy of gun owners (Source: Sec. 110 of Commerce-State-Justice provisions). The funding in this provision will be used to force telephone companies to retrofit existing telephone equipment in order to facilitate the ability of government officials to wiretap citizens. This would be similar to requiring home builders to put microphones in walls of every home so that the FBI could more easily eavesdrop on conversations. (Before spending the $60 million for these technological "improvements," the FBI must first submit an "implementation plan.")

e. The "best" part of the bill was a provision in the Labor-HHS section containing a prohibition on the CDC's ability to spend any funds "to advocate or promote gun control." Despite this apparent victory, there are still two problems with this and other language in the CDC budget. First, the department which conducts the anti-gun studies did not receive a pay cut. Second, the so-called prohibition in this provision only prevents the CDC from actually lobbying in favor of gun control. As long as the CDC does not call for any gun bans, waiting periods, etc., the "prohibition" will not prevent them from placing the same anti-gun studies in medical journals -- the very same studies which are always used by the media and HCI to impugn our firearms rights. (Source: Title II of the Labor-HHS provisions.)

Conclusion: Use this special alert to confront the legislators who voted wrong. Hold them accountable! If they never hear a peep from you, they'll think they can get away with these kinds of votes in the future. Remember: "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Please distribute this alert!

----------------

footnote 1 The Washington Post (11/19/92) reported how a school teacher was arrested in class after a pedestrian reported seeing her handgun sitting in open view on the seat of her car in the parking lot. This lady had no record and was -- except for a school zone gun ban -- complying with Virginia law which allows citizens to carry a firearm in their car without a permit, as long as the gun is left in plain view.


And Now for the Rest of the Story . . .

Special GOA Alert on recent gun bans (Part II)

703-321-8585, http://www.gunowners.org

(Friday, October 4) -- These are truly interesting times.

Office after office is telling you guys that they never would vote for a bill that had the Kohl and Lautenberg gun bans. Of course, in almost 100% of the cases, they themselves can't find the provisions in the bill. Most of them didn't even know what was in the recent appropriations bill that was signed by the President!

Indeed, consider these statements made on the Senate floor on September 30 in regard to the appropriations bill that passed:

Sen. Robert Byrd (WV): "I dare say no staff person, has had the time to carefully review the thousands of programs funded in this resolution, or to read and comprehend the many nonappropriations, legislative matters contained in this resolution."

Sen. Jim Inhofe (OK): "This is the 2,000-plus pages that have been put together . . . . I would suggest there is not one Member of this body who has read this. But we go through that quite often and quite often we vote on things that we have not read in their entirety."

GOA inundates the Hill. Folks, realize that what you're hearing from offices is either lies or incompetence. From September 19 through September 27 (the day before the House vote), GOA inundated the Congress with letters and other materials in opposition to the Kohl and Lautenberg gun bans. They were warned about what was in the bill -- they have no excuse for being ignorant.

Having said that, GOA has been able to document some cases where certain leadership offices were lying (or "misspoke") to their fellow Congressmen. In one case, a Congressman stated that because of the information GOA had delivered to his office, he could not vote for the appropriations bill. He would not vote for a bill that established "gun free zones" near every school. One high-ranking Congressman (on the Appropriations Committee) told the Congressman that there was no such provision in the bill! Relying on that "information," the Congressman voted for the bill.

Well, this alert will give you the resources to show your Congressman what is in the new law. We need to demand -- and right before the elections is a good time to make the request -- that they repeal this legislation. We need to get their written promise that they will support a repeal.

Visit the GOA Web page to get the full text of the Lautenberg and Kohl gun bans. The URL of the file is http://www.gunowners.org/amd96930.htm, and it will be made available by 10:00 P.M. tonight (E.S.T.). In the mean time, the section below will give you the page numbers for the worst parts of H.R. 3610.

One note regarding H.R. 3610: some have been confused because THOMAS (on the Internet) is lagging behind on reporting the final version of the bill. H.R. 3610 passed as a Defense appropriation bill on June 13 in the House and on July 18 in the Senate. At this point, it was sent to a conference committee.

But on September 28, this bill became more than just a Defense bill, as the conference committee used a parliamentary maneuver to roll six other bills into H.R. 3610. Thus, H.R. 3610 became an "omnibus" spending bill, containing the appropriations for several other departments -- including Treasury, Justice, Commerce, HHS and others. The Defense bill had became a "Christmas tree." (In fact, after the recorded vote on H.R. 3610, this bill was rolled into another bill (H.R. 4278) by unanimous consent.)

The Congressional Record for September 28 does have this bill printed in full. While GOA has obtained a copy of this, however, one should realize that this issue of the Congressional Record is not easy to get. They are not giving any issues out to outside organizations -- GOA had to get a Congressional office to pick up a copy for us.

How to show your Congressmen the worst parts of the recent appropriations bill:

Gun Free Zones (Source: Cong. Record, 9/28/96, p. H11743, Sec. 657 of the Treasury-Postal portion of H.R. 3610.)

Domestic Confiscation (Source: Cong. Rec., 9/28/96, p. H11743, Sec. 658 of the Treasury-Postal portion of H.R. 3610.)

Study on placing taggants in black and smokeless powders -- a provision that sets the wheels in motion for registering ammunition. (Source: Congressional Record, 9/28/96, p. H11650, Sec. 113(2) of the general provisions of the Justice Department Title in H.R. 3610.)

BATF pay INCREASE of almost $100 million dollars for next year $16 million in the regular budget plus an additional $66 million for anti-terrorism efforts. (Source: Cong. Record, 9/28/96, p. H11729, H11747,H12015.) u Continuing restriction on the ability of non-violent offenders who lose their gun rights to get their rights restored. (Source: Congressional Record, 9/28/96, p. H11729.)

How they voted in the Senate

The Senate voted on September 30 to pass the omnibus spending bill. This bill, H.R. 4278 (a bill containing the text of H.R. 3610), passed by a vote of 84-15. The 15 "good guys" (many of them voting against the bill for fiscal or other reasons) are as follows: Ashcroft (MO), Brown (CO), Burns (MT), Coats (IN), Faircloth (NC), Feingold (WI), Frahm (KS), Gramm (TX), Grams (MN), Gregg (NH), Inhofe (OK), Kyl (AZ), McCain (AZ), Specter (PA), and Thomas (WY). Not voting: Campbell (CO). Hold the others accountable!