It may be a cliche, but it is true: This letter is written not in anger, but in sorrow and concern. It is written to our friends about NRA staff who, tragically, have taken a course which, we believe, would be disastrous for the Second Amendment and the pro-gun movement.
Two of us are Life Members of the NRA -- one of whom was an NRA board member for over ten years. And our legislative counsel was a paid consultant for the NRA.
So we certainly have no animus against the NRA staff, much less our wonderful friends who are NRA members.
In fact, over the last thirty years, GOA and its staff have worked with NRA to facilitate most of our pro-gun victories -- from McClure-Volkmer to the death of post-Columbine gun control to a gun liability bill free of anti-gun "killer amendments."
But those who staff the NRA, without consulting the membership, have now made a series of strange and dangerous alliances with the likes of Chuck Schumer, Carolyn McCarthy, and Pat Leahy. And we believe that, if allowed to continue, this will produce anti-gun policies which the NRA staff will bitterly regret.
Christ said, in the Sermon on the Mount, that "by their fruits, ye shall know them." And, frankly, these fruits are not likely to produce much pro-gun legislation.
Substantively, the Leahy/McCarthy/Schumer bill, which NRA's staff has vigorously supported without consulting with its membership, would rubber-stamp the illegal and non-statutory BATFE regulations which have already been used to strip gun rights from 110,000 veterans. It would also allow an anti-gun administration to turn over Americans' most private medical records to the federal instant check system without a court order.
But perhaps even worse, the bill was hatched in secret, without hearings or testimony, and passed out of the House without even a roll call. And now, the sponsors are trying to do the same thing in the Senate -- in an effort to ram the bill through without votes or floor debate, led by anti-gun Senator Chuck Schumer. If it is good legislation, as its proponents claim, why such fears of a roll call vote or debate in committee?
Indeed, in the face of horrific dissent from the NRA's own membership, its staff has tragically ignored arguments and dug in its heels -- in an almost "because-we-say-so" attitude.
* Passage of McCarthy/Leahy/Schumer will not quell the calls for gun control. To the contrary, it will embolden our enemies to push for the abolition of even more of our Second Amendment rights. Already, the Brady Campaign has indicated its intent to follow up this "victory" with a push for an effective ban on gun shows.
* Passage of McCarthy/Leahy/Schumer will not be viewed as an "NRA victory." To the contrary, once the liberal media has used the NRA staff for its purposes, it will throw them away like a used Kleenex. Already, an over-confident press is crowing that this is the "first major gun control measure in over a decade."
* Taking the BATFE's horrifically expansive unlawful regulations dealing with veterans' loss of gun rights and making them unchangeable congressionally-endorsed statutory law is NOT "maintaining the status quo."
* We are told that the McCarthy/Leahy/Schumer bill should be passed because it contains special provisions to allow persons prohibited from owning guns to get their rights restored. But there is already such a provision in the law; it is 18 U.S.C. 925(c). And the reason why no one has been able to get their rights restored under CURRENT LAW is that funds for the system have been blocked by Chuck Schumer. It is no favor to gun owners for Chuck Schumer -- the man who has blocked funding for McClure-Volkmer's "relief from disability" provisions for 15 years -- to now offer to give us back a tepid version of the provisions of current law which he has tried so hard to destroy.
Finally, there is the cost, which ranges from $1 billion in the cheapest draft to $5 billion -- to one bill which places no limits whatsoever on spending. Thus, we would be drastically increasing funding for gun control -- at a time when BATFE, which has done so much damage to the Second Amendment, should be punished, rather than rewarded.
We would now respectfully ask the NRA staff to step back from a battle with its membership -- and to join with us in opposing McCarthy/Leahy/Schumer gun control, rather than supporting it.
And, to our friends and NRA members, we would ask that you take this letter and pass it onto your friends and colleagues.
Senator H.L. "Bill" Richardson (ret.)
Founder and Chairman
Michael E. Hammond