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Feb. 8 coilumn -- GOA

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From: [email protected] (Vin Suprynowicz)
Subject: Feb. 8 coilumn -- GOA
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    THE LIBERTARIAN, By Vin Suprynowicz
    Second Amendment: changing of the guard

    Last time, we were discussing the "take-the-best-available-compromise,"
defeatist attitude of the nation's largest gun control organization, the
National Rifle Association.

  Their lighter, leaner competition for gun owner support, Gun Owners of
America, prefers a more high-pressure approach, putting the fire to the
feet of lawmakers to make sure they know that a vote against gun rights
will cost them their next election ... just as Bill Clinton acknowledged
that the gun rights vote cost the Democratic Party its control of Congress
in 1994.

  In a 1968 edition of the NRA's magazine, "The American Rifleman,"
Associate Editor Alan C. Webber responded to then-timely criticism by U.S.
Sen. Robert Kennedy, D-N.Y., who said "I think it is a terrible indictment
of the National Rifle Association that they haven't supported any
legislation to ban and control the misuse of rifles and pistols in this

  To this, Mr. Webber reports NRA Executive Vice President Franklin L. Orth
responded with a ringing endorsement of the 1968 Gun Control Act. "The
National Rifle Association has been in support of workable, enforceable gun
control legislation since its very inception in 1871," Mr. Orth proclaimed.
"The duty of Congress is clear. It should act now to pass legislation that
will keep undesirables, including criminals, drug addicts and persons
adjudged mentally irresponsible or alcoholic, or juveniles, from obtaining
firearms through the mails."

  One will remember that the way the 1968 law accomplished that, was by banning
EVERYONE but an ever-shrinking pool of federally licensed gun dealers from
"obtaining firearms through the mails"! Sort of like "getting drunks off the
road," by banning cars and trucks!

  "The NRA position, as stated by Orth, emphasizes that the NRA has
consistently supported gun legislation which it feels would penalize misuse
of guns, without harassing law-abiding hunters, target shooters and
collectors," concludes editor Webber.

  What an interesting list. Do you see "militiamen" in there? I don't. Does
the Second Amendment say anything about duck-hunting?

  The Brits, who have just finished banning all private ownership of
handguns, insist THEY still protect the "rights of law-abiding hunters,
target shooters, and collectors," too.

  If you have an English country estate, you can still own a
richly-engraved, $5,000 bird gun. If you like to target shoot, you may fire
pellet guns or even .22s at your registered club ... so long as you leave
the weapon locked up there when you go home. And "collectors" are still
presumably welcome to own as many guns as they want ... from the flintlock
era or earlier.

  Gee, that'll put them in great shape the next time the Germans or French
come storming the beaches. Which is precisely why OUR Second Amendment
talks exclusively about the needs of "the militia."

  Meantime, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agents holding a panel discussion
for an audience of mostly gun store owners at this week's SHOT Outdoor
Trades show, here in Las Vegas, declared that the way they interpret the
"permanent replacement Brady Bill" due to go into effect in November of
1998 -- the one the NRA favors due to its promised "insta-Check" capability
-- will call for a "Brady check" and permanent record of every LONG GUN
purchase, as well.

  The NRA operates, in effect, as nothing but a public relations outreach
arm for the Republican Party, tasked to convince gun rights advocates that
the GOP is their only hope.

  But Newt Gingrich promised us that if only we would elect a GOP majority
to Congress there would be "no more gun control passed" on his watch,
didn't he?

  Mind you, that's a pretty modest promise, compared to the Libertarian Party
platform plank on guns, which calls for ALL existing gun control laws to be
immediately REPEALED.

   But not only have Mr. Gingrich's Republicans failed to repeal the major
federal gun control acts of 1933 and 1968, not only have they failed to
repeal the Brady Bill and the Feinstein-Schumer "assault weapons ban" (as
they promised), but they actually ENACTED the so-called Anti-Terrorism Bill
with the Lautenberg Amendment, which retroactively strips police and many
other citizens of their gun rights based on any prior domestic misdemeanor
convictions (shouting at your kids).

   And then, not satisfied, they went on to pass the "Gun Free School Zone
Act" ... TWICE!

  Putting him to the test of fire, I asked Larry Pratt of GOA last week
whether he would favor allowing a 17-year-old girl to walk into a hardware
store, buy and take home a belt-fed .30-caliber machine gun, without
signing her name, showing any ID, or applying for any kind of government

   "Well, that's the way it would have been in 1933, before the National
Firearms Act, wouldn't it?" he asked.

  "Is that a yes?" I asked back.

   Mr. Pratt, in front of a sizeable public gathering at the San Remo Hotel
and Casino, said "Yes."

  And that's why I think we're about to see a changing of the guard when it
comes to gun-rights lobbying, from the arthritic and the defeated, to the
aggressive, the fearless, and the principled.

  Congressman Ron Paul, R-Tex., has called Gun Owners of America "the only
no-compromise gun lobby in Washington." With a fraction of the NRA's
manpower, membership or budget, GOA has defeated powerful state legislative
committee chairmen (in Ohio) who were foolish enough to support more gun
control, and has helped elect congressmen like Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland,
currently sponsor of HR27, the Citizens Self-Defense Act, which would
"protect the right to obtain ... and to use firearms in defense of self,
family or home."

  Unless they change their stripes with fearsome speed, I fear the NRA and
their hog-trough affiliate, the Republican Party as we've known it, are
headed for the elephant's graveyard, and soon.

  On the other hand, if Gun Owners of America sold stock, I'd be buying.

Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas
Review-Journal. Readers may contact him via e-mail at [email protected]


Vin Suprynowicz,   [email protected]

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude
greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace.
We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that
feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you; and may posterity forget
that ye were our countrymen."    -- Samuel Adams

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Robert Hettinga ([email protected]), Philodox
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