- June 8 - The NRA’s bark is a lot stronger than its bite these days, as many legislators
on the federal and state levels are turning their backs on the gun group and its
opposition to responsible gun laws. Policy makers are finally realizing what
polls have been showing for years: supporting the NRA’s extremist positions is
bad politics. In fact, the gun group has failed to meet even one of its top
priorities during the last several years. A look at the NRA’s recent legislative
record speaks for itself:
One of the group’s primary objectives has been
to make it easier to carry concealed weapons in every state across the nation.
Yet it has failed to weaken concealed weapons laws in even one state since early
The NRA publicly pledged to get the U.S. Congress to overturn
President Clinton’s April 6, 1998, executive order banning the importation of
millions of assault weapons into the United States. The gun lobby was unable to
muster enough votes to follow through on its threat.
An intense NRA
lobbying and public relations campaign failed to keep a gun show referendum off
Florida’s 1998 ballot. If passed, the measure will give local governments the
authority to close a loophole in the state’s law that allows guns to be sold at
gun shows without waiting periods or background checks. This loss is further
evidence of the NRA’s waning power: As the home state of outgoing NRA President
Marion Hammer, Florida has traditionally been one of the gun group’s benchmark
states. The referendum will likely become law given that a recent Peter Hart
poll shows 75% of Floridians supporting the measure.
Connecticut passed a comprehensive gun control package designed to prevent
children’s access to guns. The bill was signed into law by the Governor, who had
received financial support from the NRA. Clearly, the political price of voting
against popular opinion outweighed the threat of voting against the NRA.
Last year, the NRA tried to create a kinder, gentler public image by
electing its first woman President, Marion Hammer. This year, newly-elected
President Charlton Heston is claiming that the NRA represents mainstream America
and is spearheading the "I am the NRA" ad campaign to convince the
public that it’s true. But if Charlton Heston represents the NRA, the group
stands for nothing more than a sea of contradictions.
stood up with other figures in the entertainment industry to urge President
Lyndon Johnson to support passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968.
year, in an interview with KGO radio in San Francisco, Heston stated that
"AK-47’s are inappropriate for private use," yet the NRA has lobbied
aggressively to repeal the 1994 assault weapons ban, which bans AK-47s.
This year, Charlton Heston vowed to spend $100 million to indoctrinate
kids into gun ownership and teach them that the Second Amendment is more
important than their First Amendment right to free speech.
In a December
1997 speech to the Free Congress Foundation, an excerpt of which appeared on CBS
Evening News on Friday, June 5, 1998, Charlton Heston stated: "Mainstream
America is counting on you to ‘draw your sword’ and fight for them. These people
have precious little time and resources to battle misguided Cinderella
attitudes, the fringe propaganda of the homosexual coalition, the feminists who
preach that it is a divine duty for women to hate men, blacks who raise a
militant fist with one hand while they seek preference with the other...and gun
bans as a means to only the Lord-knows-what."
Heston’s election to the NRA presidency simply puts a friendly face on the NRA’s
extremism. The organization remains out-of-step with mainstream America,
including gun owners," said Sarah Brady, Chair of Handgun Control, Inc.
"A recent Harris Poll found that 76 percent of Americans and 66 percent of
gun owners favor stricter control of handguns."
# # #
Handgun Control, Inc, is the nation’s largest citizens’ gun control lobbying
organization. Based in Washington, DC, HCI works to enact stronger federal,
state and local gun control laws, but does not seek to ban handguns. Founded in
1974, HCI has more than 400,000 members nationwide and works with local groups
around the country to enact and protect reasonable gun control laws.