GOA Members Win Key Battles in 2008
-- While gun rights advanced this year, the prospects for next year look very tough
"The best Second Amendment defense organization in the country is Gun Owners of America." -- Joseph Farrah, founder and CEO of WorldNetDaily.com, September 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
That's what the next four years are going to bring. More government regulations... more government spending... and more battles over gun control.
Once Barack Obama takes his oath of office in January, he will become, without a doubt, the most anti-gun President this nation has ever seen.
How are gun owners responding to the oncoming Obama presidency? By the tens of thousands, they are pouring into gun stores all across the country and stocking up on guns and ammo, fearing the worst. Many buyers include first-time gun owners.
And while that is not a bad idea, it's a short term solution to a long-term problem that does nothing to defend our Second Amendment rights from being eliminated by a Congress controlled by people like Ted Kennedy, Chuck Schumer, Carolyn McCarthy and other notorious gun grabbers.
That's why we need you to stand with Gun Owners of America next year. If you have never become a GOA member -- or you've let your membership lapse -- we need you on board so that we have the ammunition necessary to fight every gun control bill that comes our way.
It takes less than five minutes to go sign up. By doing so, you will be joining -- in the words of WorldNetDaily's founder -- the "best Second Amendment defense organization in the country."
We need you now more than ever, as we are surely in for the fight of our lives!
Even so, despite all the hurdles that we see ahead, one should not forget that 2008 was a real improvement for gun rights in many respects. Gun Owners of America experienced victories in the courts... in the Congress... over federal bureaucracies... and in the states.
The following victories are just a few of the accomplishments that GOA was able to achieve this year with YOUR HELP. So let's take a look at our work together, month by month.
January - February
* As the new year dawns, President Bush signs the Veterans Disarmament Act (a.k.a. the NICS Improvement Amendments Act). This legislation codifies illegitimate procedures that, over the past decade, had already resulted in almost 150,000 veterans being denied the right to buy guns because battle-related stress has supposedly rendered them unable to manage their own financial affairs.
GOA was able to win some significant concession in the bill, even as we were trying to kill it outright. Unfortunately, the bill passed both houses of Congress last year without a vote. Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina later complained that the Democrat controlled Senate had passed 94 percent of its bills this year without a recorded vote.
* An Associate Director in the U.S. Interior Department defends the National Park Service ban claiming that "parks are safe places" and that right to carry laws "do not reduce crime" or protect people against dangerous wildlife. GOA responds by generating thousands upon thousands of postcards into the Oval Office, asking President Bush to put the squeeze on Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to get the NPS ban reversed -- a reversal that will come about in May.
* The U.S. Solicitor General files a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the D.C. v. Heller case arguing that categorical gun bans of virtually all self-defense firearms are constitutional if a court determines they are "reasonable" -- the lowest standard of constitutional review. This view could justify a national ban on all firearms, including a ban on all hunting rifles.
GOA works with Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) and helps him to quickly get 57 additional congressmen to oppose the Solicitor General's opinion.
* Because of generous contributions from its members, GOA is able to submit a very unique amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of Dick Anthony Heller, who was denied the right to own a gun in the nation’s capital as a result of the draconian gun ban which exists there.
In this hard-hitting brief, GOA takes aim at the weak arguments put forth by both the DC government and the Bush Administration. But more than that, GOA examines the favorable text and context of the Second Amendment in great detail, while also documenting the pro-gun history that formed the backdrop of its inclusion into the Bill of Rights.
March - May
* After looking at all the briefs which have been submitted in the Heller case, the editors at USA Today decide to use GOA for the opposing voice on March 19. The paper's editors tell our attorneys that GOA had an argument that was clearly distinctive, as we were the only ones to argue that the words "shall not be infringed" invalidated all federal gun control laws.
* In the states, GOA helped Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming to pass Emergency Protection bills throughout the country. These bills repeal laws that allow police to confiscate firearms during a declared emergency, such as what occurred in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina decimated the city in 2005.
The sponsor of the Utah legislation, Senator Mark Madsen (R), thanked GOA in March for the help we offered in helping pass the legislation in his state.
"GOA supplied me with video that documented the plight of decent gun owners in New Orleans who had their guns stolen by police after Hurricane Katrina," Madsen said. "The DVD was very helpful in educating other members of the Utah legislature, and my bill to protect Utah gun owners from gun confiscation, SB 157, passed by overwhelming margins."
Sen. Madsen's new law is one of the best in the country. If someone were to have his gun illegitimately confiscated, that person could not only sue for damages, but could hold the offending officer and his superior personally liable.
* GOA's attorneys uncover a proposal in April to keep gun owners from shipping replica or inert munitions through the mail. GOA immediately submitted a blistering critique to the U.S. Post Office and contacted thousands of grassroots activists so they could submit their own comments as well. To date, the agency has backed off of its original gun control proposal.
* The Bush administration, after more than seven years, has finally issued regulations permitting the carrying of firearms in national parks! Beginning in 2009, gun owners will be able to carry firearms according to the laws of the state in which the park is located.
* GOA learns about Pastor Phillip Miles of South Carolina, who was sentenced to three years in a Russian prison for carrying a single box of hunting ammo in his luggage, intended as a gift. GOA urges President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to intervene on Miles' behalf, as the sentence definitely did not fit the "crime." Russian authorities succumb to the outcry shortly thereafter... Miles is released in June and returns to the United States.
June - August
* The Supreme Court strikes down the DC gun ban! While not perfect, the Court's decision recognizes that the Second Amendment protects an "individual right" and states that the decades-old ban in the nation's capital is unconstitutional.
GOA's brief had countered both the DC government and the Bush Administration -- as the latter had asked the Court to use the DC case as a justification for all sorts of gun control. GOA is pleased that the Justices heeded our admonition to limit the Court's holding to the case before it, thus shooting down both the DC government and the Bush Administration in their quest to validate other firearms restrictions.
* GOA Executive Director Larry Pratt escorts David Olofson to a federal prison in Minnesota. Olofson was convicted in federal court of transferring a malfunctioning semi-automatic firearm which the ATF claimed was machine gun -- a determination that should concern every gun owner who owns a semi-auto.
Gun Owners of America becomes the lead gun organization fighting against the ATF's persecution of Olofson. In taking on this case, GOA is also defending the rights of gun owners who could be prosecuted for owning a malfunctioning firearm. For the ATF, a gun that misfires is an excellent opportunity to rack up an easy conviction on an illegal machine gun charge.
In Olofson's defense, GOA submits an appeal challenging his conviction at the district court level, and sets up a relief fund to help pay for his family's mortgage and car payments.
September - November
* David Olofson's wife, Candy, thanks GOA and its members for helping their family. Candy tells GOA Executive Director Larry Pratt that because of the financial help that GOA members have given, she has not had to get a second job, so she is able to spend time being a Mom.
* GOA's Larry Pratt travels to the Big Easy to award a brand new handgun to Patricia Konie -- the New Orleans resident who was tackled and disarmed by police in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Konie was forced to evacuate her home in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and until recently, had remained disarmed. To this day, she has never gotten back her stolen gun.
* GOA tells its email activists how the ATF was trying to prevent the distribution of an electronic 4473 Form. This software has been developed by a private firm, Coloseum Software Corporation, and is intended to protect dealers against the "mistakes" that have allowed the ATF to prosecute or harass them into giving up their licenses.
GOA issued a grassroots alert in mid-October explaining how the ATF had been dragging its collective feet for months -- keeping Coloseum from distributing its software, even while the ATF was developing its own competing software (and possibly, violating the copyright which belonged to Coloseum).
After GOA asked gun owners to contact the Bush Administration, the owner of Coloseum contacted us shortly thereafter to tell us that our alert had been a tremendous success: "After the GOA alert put the spotlight on criminal activity by the BATFE, they quickly provided us [Coloseum Software Corp] with the required documentation for the new Form 4473 which we had been asking for months."
Sign up with GOA... the battle lines are now drawn!
GOA is on the front lines, fighting to defend your rights. Even if you have already renewed your membership in GOA, we hope you will consider making an additional contribution.
With your extra support in 2009, we will fight off every new attack on our gun rights. And we will remind the Democratic Congress what happened to their majority the last time they followed an anti-gun President down this path.
This next year is going to be our most difficult year in a long, long time. Already, President-elect Obama is surrounding himself with virulent anti-gunners:
* His pick for Attorney General went to a committed gun grabber in Eric Holder. Holder signed on to an amicus brief in the Heller case which SUPPORTED the DC ban on handguns and the ban on using any firearm for self-defense in a person’s home. Holder's brief also argued that the Second Amendment protects a "collective" right, not an individual right (as the Supreme Court eventually ruled).
* And based on his pick for Chief of Staff, you can be sure that the Obama administration will use any "crisis" it can to push its gun control agenda. Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, told the Wall Street Journal recently that, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.... [A] crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before."
Get it? Every time a crackpot goes on a shooting spree, the Obama administration is going to use that "crisis" to come after your guns!
So please make the decision to stay with us in the upcoming year, as it will be critical for America's gun rights. Whether you can help us out with your gift of $35 or $3500, your contribution will be put immediately into the fight to preserve and restore all of our gun rights.
Please stay with us in 2009!