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10.2005 Senate Bill 397. A bad deal for gun owners.

By Kevin Starrett

Now that the dust is settling from the passage of S 397, “the gun makers immunity bill,” it might be a good time to assess what happened.

As you probably know, when the NRA attempted to push this bill through last time it was laden with anti-gun provisions which were giving gun owners fits. But as the battle continued, NRA and others in the establishment gun lobby insisted that the bill should be passed, and promised it would be “cleaned up in the House.”

The late Neal Knox called those of us who opposed the bill “nervous nellies.” We were accused of paranoia and ignorance of the process. We were told “not to worry, it’s how it’s done around here.”

The guarantees that the bill would be fixed, if only it passed the Senate, continued until the last minute, when the unwavering efforts of activist gun owners like you convinced the NRA that they were on a sinking ship and they too, called for the bill to be killed.

On the second go-round NRA seemed to have learned its lesson. In a series of e-mails from NRA they repeated this hard-core message : “Be sure to tell your Senators that you consider any votes for any anti-gun amendments as a vote against S. 397 itself.” That quote appeared over and over.

Until it came time for a vote on the bill. A clean bill was no longer what the NRA demanded.
When vote time came and the bill passed with anti-gun amendments (that the militant anti-gun crowd have praised,) the NRA had changed its tune.

No longer was a vote for an anti-gun amendment a vote against the bill itself.
Suddenly, it was all no big deal.

Gone were the promises to “fix it in the House.” In place of those promises we had a stern warning from NRA ,”… immediately call your U.S. Representative at (202) 225-3121 and urge him/her to pass S. 397 (as passed by the Senate)! ”

The NRA was no longer even considering removing the anti-gun language. Now they insisted that the bill pass the House “as passed in the Senate.”

Why this sudden reversal? Why this insistence that NRA members accept any piece of garbage that was shoveled their way?

And why was this needed if NRA is in fact the lobbying powerhouse that they claim to be? Why were other “pro-gun” organizations jumping on the NRA bandwagon by telling their members that “politics is the art of compromise” and the “art of the possible?”

Compromise is what you do when you have no choice. When your back is to the wall and there is nothing left to do. It’s NOT what you do when you are in control.

Remember the famous comment by Kayne Robinson, NRA president? “If we win, we’ll have a president where we work out of their office.”

Well, the NRA “won.” George Bush was elected. The House and the Senate are under the control of our “friends.” So why are we snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?

Why are we making concessions to people who are out of power, who for years refused to give an inch for our gun rights?

Why are people like Gordon Smith sending out letters taking credit for opposing anti-gun amendments when he voted FOR them and saying how proud he was of this bill when he didn’t even vote for it?

Because he can. Because of the constant cover that these people get from groups like NRA who have given phonies like Smith thousands of dollars.

After Bush signed the bill, Wayne LaPierre said “This is an historic day for freedom. I would like to thank President Bush for signing the most significant piece of pro-gun legislation in twenty years into law.”

Historic day for freedom? When you’re forced by government to buy something you don’t want, don’t need and which if used renders your self defense firearm useless to you, but still easy to steal?

When new “studies” have been authorized that the fringe anti-gun group “Violence Policy Center” says “may ultimately lead to a strengthening and expansion of the federal ban on armor-piercing ammunition.”

This is an “historic day for freedom?”

What’s the NRA (and their parrots in large dollar “gun groups”) going to say if some politician introduces a law that requires a gun safe? They’ve already signed off on the concept. And what about the people who don’t use a trigger lock? Can they count on being prosecuted because they are NOT covered by the immunity this bill claims to offer?

I wish we could share the jubilation of the NRA on this “great victory”. It certainly is a step forward for gun makers, but it comes at tremendous cost to gun owners. And there is not a single excuse for it.

Clinton’s out of the White House and the people who got lots of NRA bucks are in charge. So why are gun owners being told they MUST “compromise?” When did we have a better chance of making a real improvement?

This is why the battle is far from won. And why it’s so critical that we do what we can to elect people who will not throw gun owners overboard after getting their checks and endorsements from NRA.

We can’t let the NRA’s seal of approval continue to serve as camouflage for people who vote against gun rights.

When anti-gun Kevin Mannix ran for governor, he bragged that he had won the NRA’s “defender of freedom” award. A great selling point for a guy who worked overtime to attack our freedoms.

At Oregon Firearms Federation, we have high standards for people who are asking for the job of making rules about your life. They don’t get “A” ratings because they invited us to a cocktail party and we won’t tell you to “trust us.” We will continue to give you the unvarnished truth to the absolute best of our ability. If only we could expect the same from the NRA.