Friday, October 21, 2005

Different views on S.397 Part 1

You may have heard the Congress has finally passed a law to protect firearms manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits. E.g., once bush signs the bill, people will no longer be able to sue gun makers in Federal court for damages caused by criminal misuse of their products. E.g., Joe gets murdered with a Ruger handgun, and Joe's wife sues Ruger for damages, even though the Ruger pistol was sold in accordance with all laws. This is akin to Joe's wife suing General Motors for wrongful death after he got run over by a drunk in a Chevy.

Passage of S.397 was not without discord amongst the ranks of gunnies. For example, GOA wanted the bill killed because it includes a section requiring that trigger locks be sold with all guns, and another section concerning armor piercing ammunition.

I'm going to post press releases from three pro-RKBA groups to show their varying takes on S.397's passage. First, from GOA:

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
-- And you can be encouraged that your calls made a HUGE difference
in one area

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

Thursday, October 20, 2005

"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

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


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

* 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

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

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!
I'll follow up with posts from The Firearms Coalition, NRA-ILA, and CCRKBA.

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