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Pro-gun leaders are predicting a hot political summer on the gun issue.

Pro-Gun Leaders Are Predicting A Hot Political Summer On The Gun Issue

Life for America's gun owners and dealers may become considerably more complicated--and less fun--this year, if the anti-gunners have their way. The anti's are putting together a comprehensive program that may make this the most challenging year since the early 1970s, as they focus on "Saturday Night Specials", waiting periods and semiautomatics.

The same pro-gun leaders who generally were applauding the results of last fall's elections--with the exception of the returns on the Maryland referendum--are predicting a hot political summer on the gun issue this year.

The anti's haven't really concentrated on rifles for a couple of decades. That could change this year.

"...There's no question that we'll see a paramilitary/semiautomatic bill calling for the registration of all firearms in the United States," said Jim Baker, director of the Governmental Affairs Division of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA).

Baker said drafts of such bills began surfacing in Congress last fall. "We are preparing for a real onslaught of such legislation," he said.

Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America (GOA), declared, "I think it's time to issue a special warning to the person who says he isn't worried about gun control because he only uses a long gun for hunting: don't think the anti-gunners aren't after your gun, too!"

Pratt believes the anti's may attempt to get at semiautomatic rifles by banning ammunition that can be used in them. "If such an effort is successful, we may be left with .22 and .45 ammo, if we're lucky," he said.

Regarding another front, Baker said, "I think in light of the anti-gunners' victory in the Maryland referendum, we can expect to see some Saturday Night Special proposals at the federal level. They may even follow the Maryland model and propose a federal board to determine what is a legitimate handgun for Americans to own."

Baker predicted that such a bill would not get out of committee but stressed that it is a threat that cannot be ignored.

Pratt believes the anti's in Maryland will be attempting to spread their gospel to other states, and there's already evidence to indicate he's correct. Within weeks of their victory at the polls, two Maryland anti-gunners traveled to New Jersey to testify in favor of a handgun ban. However, during the referendum battle in Maryland last fall, the anti's insisted that, no, sir, they weren't after a handgun ban.

There are also predictions that the question of a federally mandated waiting period for handgun purchases will resurface this year despite the defeat of the Brady bill in Congress last fall and the fact that the McCollum substitute directed the Justice Department to study the development of a system to allow gun dealers to check would-be buyers for criminal records.

The fact that this study has not yet been completed is of little concern to the anti-gunners.

"I think we would be naive to believe that the anti-gunners will let this issue rest that easily," Baker stated.

He also expects the anti-gunners to intensify their efforts to link guns with drugs in the minds of the public and politicians. The anti's are attempting to paint pro-gun politicians as being soft on drugs, when in fact most of the anti's are the ones who are soft on crime in general. About the only thing they aren't soft on are lawabiding citizens who desire to own or sell firearms.

John Snyder, Washington lobbyist and director of publications for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), expressed a concern about the large amount of mail that the anti's are generating--with the help of much of the mass media.

"I had lunch the other day with Rep. Lamar Smith (a pro-gun Republican from San Antonio, Texas) who is one of our active supporters on the House Subcommittee on the Constitution," Snyder said.

"Smith said his office received more mail critical of his support of the McCollum Substitute (and opposition to the Brady bill with its seven-day waiting period for handgun purchases) than it has on any other issue except abortion.

"He said there's an undercurrent of appeal around the country on the waiting period and some of the letters he's receiving are from people who are not normally anti-gun."

Unfortunately, the message would seem to be that the anti-gun hysteria in the general media is having some effect.

"I'm looking forward to a year as tough--if not tougher--than any we've faced before," Snyder concluded.

Opinions differ on what impact the Democrats' selection of George Mitchell of maine as the Senate majority leader will have.

"Mitchell has been good on our issue up to now," Baker said, "although he is more of a traditional liberal than Byrd (Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who stepped down as majority leader). I do see the Senate as being more polarized."

Snyder, on the other hand, said, "I think the selection of Mitchell bodes ill for our cause. He favors what he calls reforms--cutting back on the ability of the senators filibuster and to put a hold on measures they oppose.

"Pro-gun senators have used these tools effectively in the past to slow down the legislative process when the anti-gunners have attempted to catch us off guard with some unexpected proposal. That gives us time to rally our forces."

Snyder also said he is picking up mixed signals on just how zealous the Democratic leadership in Congress will be in pushing anti-gun legislation. Clearly, anti-gunners such as Rep. Bill Hughes (D-New Jersey) will still be in positions of power.

However, in the wake of the election of George Bush--giving the GOP five of the last six presidential elections--Democratic politicians and rank-and-file party members and workers have been openly urging Democratic party officials to stop advocating additional federal gun control laws.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass), an outspoken liberal, told The Wall Street Journal that his party should give up its efforts to pass such laws.

"It becomes an issue that drives away people who would support liberal programs," he insisted. "Feeding the hungry and getting medical care for people who need it are more important than a seven-day waiting period.

Later Rep. Frank told Joe Tartaro, president of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), that a "natural constituency for liberal programs has been 'turned off' by the gun issue.

"It is most important in rural areas--the South, the Midwest and Far West--but but you can see it in every state," he said.

"But those who are against us list it as number one. They (NRA members) vote the company line more than any other wide-based interest group."

Clairborne Darden, an Atlanta political analyst who specializes in Southern polling, pointed out that the Bush-Dukakis race was close in Texas until rural Texans were made aware of the Duke's anti-gun background. "In two or three weeks, Texas was gone," he said.

Finally, in Maryland there is reportedly a great deal of apprehension among both gun dealers and would-be buyers about how the new gun law will affect them. No one knows the exact criteria the nine-member board will use to define what is a Saturday Night Special.

In some areas of the state, residents are supposedly rushing to buy handguns and dealers are attempting to limit their inventories to handguns they are hoping won't be classified as Saturday Night Specials (and forbidden for sale in the state).

Sounds like a great deal of confusion. Those of you who are Maryland dealers can probably more fully comprehend this than the rest of us can. Hopefully, this session of Congress won't bring any such nonsense to the whole nation, although you can bet the anti's will be trying.
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Title Annotation:gun control legislation
Author:Schneider, Jim
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Feb 1, 1989
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