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"The right of the people ...." Not if Newsweek and Time have their way.

"The Right Of The People...." Not if Newsweek And Time Have Their Way

Congressional battles and court fights may become common this fall as the gun control debate continues to be a center of national attention.

As this issue of Shooting Industry goes to press, importers are considering going to court to challenge the Bush Administration's import ban on 43 specific types of semiautomatic firearms.

Emanuel Kapelsohn, executive director of the American Shooting Sports Coalition (ASSC), confirmed in late August that his group has met with importers to discuss the possibility of filing a suit. However, he told me that no decision had been reached at that point.

The ASSC's members include importers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and those individuals who wish to become associate members.

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association (NRA) charged that the import ban, which was announced in July, is being applied against military personnel returning to the United States by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF).

David Conover, a federal lobbyist for the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, claimed that the ban is being enforced in contravention of federal firearms law which permits personnel returning from military service overseas to bring in up to three non-Title II firearms and 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

"Most of the service men and women now being denied the right to bring in firearms they purchased privately overseas bought the guns well before any temporary or permanent import prohibitions were even discussed," Conover stated.

He stressed that the NRA is seeking to have BATF and the Customs Bureau abide by federal law and permit service personnel to come home with their own legal property.

On the legislative front, the NRA, ASSC and virtually all other pro-gun groups have launched campaigns designed to block Senate passage of S-747, the "assault weapons bill" sponsored by Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ). Gunowners and dealers are being encouraged to continue to write their Senators and urge them to oppose the bill.

As I noted in the last issue, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a modified version of S-747 by a 7-6 margin back on July 20 - much to the surprise of everyone. S-747 would ban the future sale of nine specific types of firearms.

The Senate's anti-gunners, led by Sen. Howard Metzenbaum (D-OH), have a great advantage in the political maneuvering over this bill because they can wait until they think the time is ripe - i.e. when pro-gunners stop writing their Senators - before moving on S-747.

"We are expecting Metzenbaum and DeConcini to take this bill to the floor of the Senate sometime this fall, but we don't know exactly when," said Jim Baker, director of the Federal Affairs division of NRA-ILA.

"They could attempt to add the bill to anything," Baker noted. "That's why we've got to keep the pressure on and not let up."

Baker pointed out that the NRA was a victim of its own success this past summer as it predicted votes on assault weapons bills only to have the votes never take place. He stressed that the votes were cancelled because gunowners contacted their Senators. Thus, this represents a victory for the NRA, even if it does make its predictions look a bit silly.

The NRA is also involved in a fascinating controversy involving the First Amendment. After the massacre of Chinese students in Beijing, the advertising agency representing the NRA produced an ad showing a demonstrator who was staggering away from some of the soldiers who had beaten him.

At the top of the ad were the words: "...The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms... - Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution.

"The headline below the picture declared, "Today's headlines remind us why."

The ad went on to point out that tyranny - such as that in China - cannot tolerate armed citizens. The ad concluded, "The National Rifle Association's defense of firearms isn't just about hunting, or competitive shooting, or even personal protection. The right to own a firearm is a statement about freedom...."

U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, National Journal, Denver Post, Phoenix Republic and Manchester (NH) Union Leader carried the ad.

However, Time and Newsweek flatly refused to print the ad.

A spokesperson for Ackerman, Hood & McQueen, Inc., the NRA's ad agency, spoke with Newsweek publisher, Howard Smith, regarding that magazine's rejection of the China ad. I obtained a copy of an internal Ackerman memo written following that conversation, and I think you'll find it as interesting as I did.

The memo indicated that Smith said he rejected the ad because "the whole Beijing thing is so sensitive," because the ad implied that if you didn't like the way things are going, to get your gun and because it "appeared to condone inciting riots against the government."

The Ackerman representative wrote, I asked which words were guilty and he (Smith) said, "None, just the whole thing." I quoted him Madison, Mao Zedung, favorable op-eds and Chinese law; but he was unmoved, except he was surprised that USA Today was running it.

I then asked him if he thought it was possible to write any ad on the subject of firearms and democracy without such implications and he said, "No, I guess not."

I finally suggested that Beijing served as an opportunity to appreciate all our rights - free speech, assembly, redress, vote, etc. - necessary to democracy, first among which was firearms.

He disagreed that freedom and firearms went together like that without being inflammatory. So, I concluded, the Second Amendment stood alone as the one freedom not discussable in his magazine. And with that, we hung up.

Time simply sent the ad agency a letter stating that it "reserves the right to reject or cancel any advertising for any reason at any time."

This is the same Time magazine that - as you may have noticed - virtually devoted its July 17 issue to an anti-gun tirade with a front page headlined, "Death by Gun."

The positive aspects of gunownership were completely ignored. In fact, the article was so distorted that the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) urged a nationwide boycott of Time magazine.

Finally, a couple short but good pieces of news. Gun dealers are resting easier now that the District of Columbia City Council has backed away from a showdown with Congress and dropped a proposal to hold handgun manufacturers and distributors financially liable for injuries and deaths caused by shootings, no matter who was a fault.

Also, 52 Congressmen have introduced HR-3187, known as the "Hunter Safety and Protection Act of 1989."

Sponsored by Rep. Ron Marlene (RMT), with many members of the Congressional Sportsman's Caucus as cosponsors, the bill would establish civil penalties for obstructing, impeding or otherwise interfering with a legal hunt. It would cover legal hunts on federal lands.
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Title Annotation:gun control legislation
Author:Schneider, Jim
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:column
Date:Oct 1, 1989
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