Thursday, June 14, 2007
Wednesday started out as a routine day in the U.S. Congress, with Representatives attending congressional hearings, meeting with constituents, perhaps devising clever new ways to pick our pockets.
At 8:30 in the morning an email went out to House Republicans indicating that a gun control bill, recently introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), was on the Suspension Calendar (normally reserved for "non-controversial" bills).
Many Representatives didn't see that email until it was too late. Less than three hours later, the bill passed by a voice vote. The bill in question, H.R. 2640, is a massive expansion of the Brady Gun Control law, the subject of many previous alerts by Gun Owners of America.
Its passage in the House is a case study in backroom deal making, unholy alliances and deceit. A sausage factory in a third world country with no running water has nothing on today's U.S. Congress.
The Washington Post reported earlier this week that a deal had been struck between the NRA leadership and Democrat leaders in the House. The headline read: "Democrats, NRA Reach Deal on Background-Check Bill."
Red flags went up throughout the pro-gun community. Who was party to this "deal," and how many of our rights were being used as bargaining chips?
The McCarthy bill, at the time, looked to be going nowhere. The general consensus among pro-gun Congressmen was that any gun bill offered by McCarthy was simply DOA.
After all, if there were such a thing as a single issue Member of Congress, it would have to be McCarthy. Rep. McCarthy ran for office to ban guns; Hollywood made a movie about her efforts to ban guns; and she is currently the lead sponsor of a bill that makes the old Clinton gun ban pale by comparison.
Even many Democrats wouldn't go near a McCarthy gun bill. They have learned that supporting gun control is a losing issue. Enter Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), the so-called Dean of the House, having served since the Eisenhower administration. Dingell is also a former NRA Board member, and was in that capacity tapped to bring the NRA leadership to the table.
The end result of the negotiations was that this small clique among the NRA leadership gave this bill the support it needed to pass.
But why was it necessary to pass the bill in such an underhanded fashion? If this is such a victory for the Second Amendment, why all the secrecy? Why was a deal forged with the anti-gun Democrat House leadership, keeping most pro-gun representatives in the dark? Why was the bill rammed through on the Suspension Calendar with no recorded vote with which to identify those who are against us?
For starters, it would be a hard sell indeed for the NRA leadership to explain to its members what they would gain by working with McCarthy. If this legislation had gone before the NRA membership for a vote, it would have been rejected. For that matter, if it went through the House in the regular fashion, with committee hearings and recorded votes, it would have been defeated.
Consider also what the bill is: GUN CONTROL! The lead sentence in an Associated Press article accurately stated that, "The House Wednesday passed what could become the first major federal gun control law in over a decade."
The bill's supporters can talk all they want to the contrary, but forcing the states to hand over to the federal government millions of records of Americans for the purpose of conducting a background check is certainly an expansion of gun control.
This is a bill designed to make the gun control trains run on time. Problem is, the train's on the wrong track. We don't need greater efficiency enforcing laws that for years we have fought as being unconstitutional.
Sure, there are provisions in the bill by which a person who is on the prohibited persons list can get his name removed, but not before proving one's innocence before a court, or convincing a psychiatrist that he should be able to own a gun (though most psychiatrists would be more likely to deem a person mentally defective for even wanting to own guns).
Sad thing is, this bill, which spends hundreds of millions of your dollars, will do nothing to make us safer. More gun control laws will not stop the next deranged madman. What will stop a killer is an armed law-abiding citizen. In the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, we should be considering removing barriers that prevent honest, decent people from carrying their lawfully possessed firearms.
We don't know where the next shooting will occur; that's something the killer decides. So whether it is in a school, a church, a shopping mall or a government building, we should urge our elected officials to repeal so-called gun free zones and oppose more gun control.
Instead, we end up with a bill supported by Handgun Control and Sarah Brady, Chuck Schumer, Teddy Kennedy, Carolyn McCarthy, and the rest of the Who's Who of the anti-gun movement, and all the while the NRA leadership maintains that this is a win for gun owners.
This is a Faustian bargain, which will repeatedly haunt gun owners in the years to come.
But you should realize why they had to do it this way. Your activism has resulted in an avalanche of grassroots opposition against this bill. Gun owners have raised their voices of opposition loud-and-clear, and many congressmen have been feeling the heat.
The fight is not over. They still have to run this through the Senate. Already, there is a small cadre of pro-gun senators who are ready to slow this bill down and do everything they can to kill it. To be frank, a bill that has the support of all the anti-gun groups and the NRA will be tough to beat, but we will continue to fight every step of the way.
Although we've suffered a setback, we want to thank all of you for the hard work you've done. Your efforts derailed the McCarthy bill for the past five years and we would have prevailed again were it not for the developments described above.
Be looking for an upcoming alert to the U.S. Senate. GOA will give you the particulars of the bill that passed the House, and we will provide you suggested language for a pre-written letter to your two senators.
Stay tuned. There is more to come.