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JUNE 8, 1998
2:40 PM
CONTACT:  Handgun Control
Robin Terry 800-465-0187

NRA Bravado Masks Legislative Impotence: Charlton Heston’s Revival Of "I am the NRA" Ad Campaign Attempts To Disguise The Gun Group’s Extremism
WASHINGTON - 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 1996.

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.

In April, 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.

Charlton Heston stood up with other figures in the entertainment industry to urge President Lyndon Johnson to support passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968.

Last 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."

"Charlton 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."

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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.


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