Tuesday, March 09, 2004

The NRA's management made the 1994 AW ban possible

Well, the NRA apologists can spin this all they want. They can claim that the NRA is the biggest dog in the fight. They can attack the writer, KeepAndBearArms.com Executive Director Angel Shamaya, as being divisive, which they most likely will. But they cannot dodge the truth. The truth is that either through incompetence or deception, the NRA allowed the 1994 AW ban to pass. And they almost did it again this year with last week's S.1805 fiasco.

According to three U.S. Senate staffers — who worked on The Hill during the original 1993/94 semi-auto rifle and magazine ban and still work as Senate staffers today — in November of 1993 the NRA asked their bosses not to object to a unanimous consent agreement on the crime bill. (The unanimous consent agreement happened on November 19, 1993. The bill had had the Feinstein semi-auto ban amendment attached to it two days earlier, by a vote of 56 to 43.) No objection meant that no filibuster would be possible. An objection to the unanimous consent agreement would have delayed the crime bill at least through the holidays and into the next year, giving the grassroots critical time to mobilize against the bill.

According to these Senate staffers, the NRA explained that they did not mind the gun ban passing the Senate and going to a conference committee — where NRA officials felt the gun ban could be killed. (Of course, this strategy failed.) NRA officials' strategy was to keep the legislative process moving so they could get to the Brady Bill and make sure the instant background check was nailed down in it.

The House Committee assigned to “clean” the bill had an NRA Director on it back then — and it clearly did not get “cleaned” of the gun ban. In fact, when the bill left that committee, that same NRA Director even voted for the final passage of the gun ban, too.

Fact is the NRA's strategy of "pass the bill, and clean it up in committee" didn't work with the 1994 AW ban, but some, like Neal Knox, promoted this strategy almost to the very end, despite it being a historically BAD strategy.

Fact is that the NRA does give good grades to those who support gun control, and even supports them many times over more pro-freedom candidates.

Fact is, that despite NRA attorney Stephen Halbrook's protestations to the contrary, he did proudly voice his support for the registration of handgun owners in DC during the Seegars battle. And while Mr. Halbrook may claim that this is a necessary step in his gradualist model of regaining our rights, I vehemently disagree with this particular aspect of his strategy. And while Mr. Halbrook compared his strategy to the NAACP's gradual approach to the fight for equal rights for African Americans, I do point out AGAIN, that at no time in their gradual fight did the NAACP admit that any portion of the onerous laws that kept blacks inferior for so long were desirable or acceptable.

And fact is that while Larry Craig did a superb job fighting for S.1805 in the Senate last week, he came to the floor prepared to make concessions, having already developed a way to demonize one type of ammunition over others, and voted to create an elite class of citizens, whose only qualification for legally carrying a concealed weapon nationwide would have been a badge.

Those facts are unfortunate, but they are irrefutable. The NRA's allowing the unanimous consent agreement, so they could ensure background checks for Americans wishing to make a constitutionally protected purchase led to the passage of the Clinton AW ban. Their strategy of allowing a committee to clean up the bill cost us our freedoms then, and history almost repeated itself last week.

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