General

Newt Gingrich on Guns: A Mixed Record

Prior to the “Republican Revolution” of 1994, Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia had earned an A rating with Gun Owners of America.  But that all changed in 1995, after Republicans were swept to power and Gingrich became Speaker of the House.

The Republicans gained the majority, thanks in large part to gun owners outraged by the Clinton gun ban.  And upon taking the reins of the House, Speaker Gingrich said famously that, “As long as I am Speaker of this House, no gun control legislation is going to move in committee or on the floor of this House and there will be no further erosion of their rights.”

His promise didn’t hold up, however, and his GOA rating quickly dropped to well below the “C-level.”  In 1996, the Republican-led Congress passed the “gun free school zones act,” creating criminal safe zones like Virginia Tech, where the only person armed was a murderous criminal.  Speaker Newt Gingrich voted for the bill containing this ban.[1]

The same bill also contained the now infamous Lautenberg gun ban, which lowered the threshold for losing one’s Second Amendment rights to a mere misdemeanor.[2] Gun owners could, as a result of this ban, lose their gun rights forever for non-violent shouting matches that occurred in the home -- and, in many cases, lose their rights without a jury trial.

While a legislator might sometimes vote for a spending bill which contains objectionable amendments, that was clearly NOT the case with Newt Gingrich in 1996.  Speaking on Meet the Press in September of that year, Speaker Gingrich said the Lautenberg gun ban was “a very reasonable position.”[3] He even refused to cosponsor a repeal of the gun ban during the next Congress -- despite repeated requests to do so.[4]

Also in 1996, Speaker Gingrich cast his vote for an anti-gun terror bill which contained several harmful provisions.  For example, one of the versions he supported (in March of that year) contained a DeLauro amendment that would have severely punished gun owners for possessing a laser sighting device while committing an infraction as minor as speeding on a federal reservation.[5] (Not only would this provision have stigmatized laser sights, it would have served as a first step to banning these items.)  Another extremely harmful provision was the Schumer amendment to “centralize Federal, State and Local police.”[6]



Final passage of H.R. 3610, Sept. 28, 1996 at:  http://clerk.house.gov/evs/1996/roll455.xml . Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) warned his colleagues about the hidden dangers in H.R. 3610, and in regard to the Kohl ban, noted that it would “prohibit most persons from carrying unloaded firearms in their automobiles.”

See Gingrich’s vote at: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/1996/roll455.xml .

[3] Associated Press, “Gingrich Favors Handgun Ban for Domestic Abuse Convicts,” Deseret News, Sept. 16, 1996.  The full quote reveals how much Speaker Gingrich had adopted the anti-gunners’ line of thinking:  “I'm very much in favor of stopping people who engage in violence against their spouses from having guns,” the Georgia Republican said Sunday on NBC's “Meet the Press.” “I think that's a very reasonable position.”  But the fact that this gun ban covers misdemeanors in the home is primary evidence that NON-violent people have been subjected to lifetime gun bans for things like:  shouting matches, throwing a set of keys in the direction of another person, spanking a child, etc.

[4] See H.R.1009, “States' Rights and Second and Tenth Amendment Restoration Act of 1997,” introduced by Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-ID).

H.R. 2703, March 14, 1996 at: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/1996/roll066.xml .

S. 735, April 18, 1996 at:  http://clerk.house.gov/evs/1996/roll126.xml .