Last Monday a "divided Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday narrowly approved a Democratic bill expanding required federal background checks for nearly all gun [transfers and not just] purchases . . . by 10-8, supported by all Democrats and opposed by every Republican." But now a broad coalition of 37 gun rights groups from across the United States has stood up to stop the bill.
Calling themselves the Coalition Against Universal Background Checks, these groups, normally focused on state legislation and elections, are poised to enter the fray with all their "grass roots" blazing to stop what they view as a “prior restraint” which will: destroy gun shows, and cost gun owners over $1.04 billion per year (1). In a press release, posted below, John Pierce from one of the Coalition's national groups, OpenCarry.org, said that
the Senate bill will "strip 18-20 year old adults of their right to buy a handgun and turn you, friends, neighbors, and un-married domestic partners into felons.(2)"
Time will tell if the Senates bill will garner 60 votes in favor of cloture, but in the mean time, 37 gun rights groups stand ready to play hard ball. According to Mr. Pierce, both a Virginia attorney and co-founder of OpenCarry.org, politicians know that gun rights are a bigger "voting issue" for pro-gun voters than nominally anti-gun voters. And he adds that
"local state gun rights groups ARE the local ground game, and they do know how to primary members of Congress who vote against gun rights, just ask President Bill Clinton who watched a 1994 Democratic majority in Congress be eviscerated after voting for a ten year ban on new sales of so-called ‘assault weapons.’"
“It’s kind of like that Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams (5),” chuckles Pierce: “If they vote for it, we will come - and primary them.”
Press Release Follows below:
(A national gun rights community with over 31,000 registered members)
For Immediate Release – February 27, 2013
OpenCarry.org Joins National Coalition to Stop Universal Background Checks
Universal Background Check scheme is a “prior restraint” which will:
• Destroy gun shows
• Cost gun owners over $1.04 billion per year (1)
• Strip 18-20 year old adults of their right to buy a handgun (2)
• Turn you, friends, neighbors, and un-married domestic partners into felons
OpenCarry.org is proud to announce joining the National Coalition Against Universal Background Checks (UBCs). UBCs offend our cherished constitutional principle of prior restraint. Civil libertarians and newspapermen better pay attention – you can’t pick and choose – if prior restraint is allowed regarding Second Amendment rights, it opens the door for prior restraint on all our rights, including the First Amendment.
The federal Brady Act’s National Instant Check System (NICS) was never designed to apply beyond commercial gun dealer sales. Gun dealers at gun shows do not have the time to broker private sales – they are busy selling their own guns - and if a private sale gun transaction is delayed, the dealer must keep the gun and take it back to her gun shop perhaps hundreds of miles away.
So unless the ATF is going to run an instant background check booth at every gun show across the United States every weekend, UBCs WILL DESTROY GUN SHOWS IN AMERICA! UBCs will also act as a gun owner private sale “poll tax” estimated conservatively at over $1.04 billion per year.
“That’s not acceptable,” says John Pierce, co-founder of OpenCarry.org. “But it gets worse,” adds Pierce,
“Banning private sales of handguns means that 18-20 year olds can no longer buy handguns as current federal law forbids these adults from buying handguns from gun dealers and requires that they MUST use private sales!”
Now allegedly there are leaks of so-called “secret talks” behind closed doors on Capitol Hill hinting that the UBC scheme will be amended into UBC-lite legislation which will require private sales to go through dealers but eliminate records of these checks so that the UBCs do not become tantamount to universal registration. While that “might sound like a great deal for gun rights,” says Pierce, “it’s not. Remember, UBCs are not just about the ‘commercial sales of guns,’ its about requiring background checks for all transfers of guns, including giving, lending, borrowing, inheriting, everything.”
So even if transfers between “bona-fide family members” are completely exempted from UBCs, the new law would still make felons out of anyone else who lends or borrows a gun from a friend, co-worker, neighbor, unmarried cohabitant, etc. Military man goes on a deployment and leaves his handgun with his girlfriend who lives alone? FELONS!
Same-sex partner in a state that does not recognize their right to marry goes on a business trip and stores her rifle at the home she shares with her partner? FELONS!
Neighbor lends a shotgun to the couple in the house across the street because a hurricane is coming to town? FELONS!
On the bigger political picture, Pierce notes that the main stream media clearly misunderstands the gun rights movement, and assumes that the National Rifle Association calls all the shots. “That’s vastly oversimplified and not true at the state level,” chuckles Pierce,
“Everyone who takes politics 101 should know that, as former U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill remarked often, all politics is local.
And local state gun rights groups ARE the local ground game, and they do know how to primary members of Congress who vote against gun rights, just ask President Bill Clinton who watched a 1994 Democratic majority in Congress be eviscerated after voting for a ten year ban on new sales of so-called ‘assault weapons.’”(3)
And speaking of Mr. Clinton, Pierce urges Congress to listen carefully to Clinton who recently argued that gun rights are arguably the most important “voting issue” in the United States:
“While some polls show that the public [may support some] proposals for increased gun control, . . . it’s not the public support that matters — it’s how strongly people feel about the issue. [Polls] are meaningless if they’re not voting issues,”(4) warned Clinton.
And to Pierce and the 37 gun rights groups that make up the Coalition Against Universal Background Checks, in many or most states, from Maine, to Virginia, to North Carolina, to Florida, to Wisconsin, and beyond, “any vote for UBCs is a vote against gun rights and will result in the political targeting of Congressional members to be ‘primaried’ and removed from office.”
“It’s kind of like that Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams (5),” says Pierce. “If they vote for it, we will come.”
John Pierce, co-founder and spokesperson, OpenCarry.org, John@OpenCarry.org, (276)
(3) I.e., cosmetically offensive but otherwise normal semi-automatic one shot per trigger pull firearms.
Additional Coalition Against Universal Background Checks Media Contacts:
Shane Belanger, President of Gun Owners of Maine, firstname.lastname@example.org
Philip Van Cleave, President, Virginia Citizens Defense League, email@example.com
Paul Valone, President, Grass Roots North Carolina, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sean Caranna, Executive Director, Florida Carry Inc., sean@open-‐carry.org
Nic Clark, President/Chairman, Wisconsin Carry Inc., NikClark@wi.rr.com
*************************************************************************************** Statement Issued February 10, 2013 by Paul Valone, President of Grass Roots North Carolina and National Coordinator for the Coalition to Stop the Gun Ban: ***************************************************************************************
National Coalition opposes ‘universal background checks’
An Open Letter to Congress and the American People
The undersigned members of the National Coalition to Stop the Gun Ban, representing some 37 national, state, and local organizations and millions of individual rights advocates, unequivocally oppose any infringement on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Specifically, we oppose any effort to insinuate government controls on private transfers of personal firearms between law-abiding individuals.
Gun owners are as horrified and outraged as anyone at recent atrocities. Our outrage includes an additional dimension though, as we have come under attack from those exploiting these tragedies to push for new restrictions on guns and gun owners. These proposed restrictions would have no effect on mass shootings or on crime in general, but would interfere with our ability to protect our families.
In recent weeks, the focus of the gun control movement has been shifting from bans on semi- auto firearms and magazines to a stronger push for “universal background checks.” Unfortunately, “universal background checks” are much more complicated, expensive, and
fraught with hazards than most people realize, and as American gun owners learn the implications of these proposals, they will increasingly join us in opposition to them. B
Background Checks Don’t Impede Criminals
Most criminals obtain the guns they use through theft, straw purchasers, or through the same black market that moves other illicit goods such as drugs and stolen property. They will not be affected by background checks on private sales, just as they are unaffected by current checks on sales from licensed dealers. Nor can background checks stop crazed killers bent on going out in a blaze of infamous glory.
The murderers at Virginia Tech, the Batman Movie, and Representative Gabrielle Giffords’ event in Tucson all passed background checks. The killers at Columbine got a friend to buy their guns, and the Newtown murderer stole the guns he used after killing the rightful owner. Those guns were legally purchased under Connecticut’s strict gun control laws.
Firearms purchased legitimately through private transfers are rarely used in violent crime. There are, however, numerous instances of persons in immediate need of a firearm for self-defense being unreasonably delayed by the “instant” background check system. In some cases people have been seriously injured or killed while they were waiting for government approval to buy the gun that might have saved them.
Injecting Government into Private Transactions is Unproductive and Dangerous
Checking every person every time they purchase a firearm is redundant, wasteful, and unproductive. The current system is already an overreach by the federal government, and it has serious flaws. It is not uncommon for sales to be delayed and even halted nationwide due to errors, system overloads, and technical problems.
Adding private transactions into this unreliable system with its potential for abuse will cost taxpayers additional hundreds of millions of dollars that could be better spent on programs that actually reduce crime. Most importantly, if all firearms transfers require government permission to proceed, the government need only withhold that permission in order to halt all legal transfers. A right delayed is a right denied.
These proposals also represent a step toward federal registration of guns and gun owners, something that has been historically demonstrated to be of little use for stopping or tracking criminals while placing law-abiding gun owners at risk and laying the foundations for future confiscation. Additionally, a registration system is subject to abuse short of confiscation as when responsible citizens in New York, were recently identified on a newspaper website as being gun owners and were subsequently targeted by thieves and harassed by neighbors. There is no legitimate reason for government to have this information or to share it with self-serving media.
Compromise on Background Checks is a Losing Proposition
Politicians and members of the industry thinking about compromising on the idea of background checks for private transfers need to remember two landmark events: Passage of the Clinton gun ban in 1994, and the agreement between the Clinton administration and firearm maker Smith & Wesson in 2000. Within months of passage of the Clinton gun ban, hundreds of members of Congress who had voted for the ban were drummed out of office.
Revisionists today claim that gun voters had little impact on that purge, but both sides, notably Bill Clinton, blamed the historic change on people voting their gun rights. In 2000 Smith& Wesson was almost bankrupted by angry gun owners who boycotted the company after they signed off on an agreement with the Clinton administration subjecting itself to oversight and interference by the federal government in exchange for relief from lawsuits and promised government contracts. Just one year later the company was sold for a $100 million loss.
Don’t Just Do Something; Do Something That Works
If politicians wish to positively impact the criminal misuse of firearms, and reduce the carnage when a deranged individual or group decides to attack innocents, there are several steps they can take that actually work.
1. Keep violent criminals behind bars. While keeping guns away from criminals and lunatics is very difficult in a free society, keeping criminals and lunatics where they cannot get their hands on guns has proven to be extremely effective. Violent crime has been reduced by more than 50% in the past 20 years even though the number of guns and gun owners has gone up dramatically during that time.
2. Put an end to imaginary Gun-Free Zones. Millions of armed, responsible citizens walk the streets of this nation every day without incident. It is ludicrous to suggest that these same people cannot be trusted around schools, churches, or government buildings. Firearms misuse among lawful carriers is extremely rare, and though they have often stopped criminals in their tracks, a person legally carrying a firearm shooting the wrong person or innocent bystanders is almost unheard of. A cardboard sign declaring a space to be “gun-free” is a sham and an invitation to predators.
Restricting lawful access and use of guns will never deny illicit access and use of guns. We are representatives of groups and organizations all over the nation. With this letter, we put on notice any politician, firearms industry member, or organization that we are determined to protect, defend, and extend Second Amend rights by every means at our disposal. We invite like-minded individuals and organizations to join us.
The National Coalition to Stop the Gun Ban/Universal Background Checks
The Firearms Coalition Jeff Knox, Managing Director Chris Knox, Director of Communications
Gun Owners of America Larry D. Pratt, Executive Director
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership Charles Heller, President
OpenCarry.org John Pierce, Spokesman
Rights Watch International F. Paul Valone, Executive Director
Second Amendment Sisters Marinelle Thompson, President Lee Ann Tarducci, Director of Operations
USRKBA.org Dave Yates, Co-founder Dave Van, Co-Founder
Arizona Citizens Defense League Dave Kopp, President
Arkansas Carry Steve Jones, Chairman
BamaCarry Eddie Fulmer, Spokesman
Connecticut Citizens Defense League, Inc Scott Wilson, Sr., President
Damas de la Segunda Enmienda (Ladies of the Second Amendment, Puerto Rico) Sandra R Barreras, Executive Vice President
Firearms Owners Against Crime Kim Stolfer, Chairman
Florida Carry, Inc. Sean Caranna, Executive Director Richard Nascak, Executive Director
Grass Roots North Carolina F. Paul Valone, President
Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, Minnesota Joe Olson, President
Gun Owners of California Sam Paredes, Executive Director
Gun Owners of Maine Shane Belanger, Executive Director
Gun Owners of Utah Charles Hardy, Public Policy Director
Gun Owners of Vermont Ed Cutler, Legislative Director
ICarry.org Shaun Kranish, Founder
Iowa Gun Owners Aaron Dorr, Executive Director
Michigan Gun Owners Jeff LaFave, President
Michigan Open Carry, Inc. Phillip Hofmeister, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association Gary Marbut, President
Nebraska Firearms Owners Association Wesley Dickinson, President
New Hampshire Firearms Coalition Jonathan R. Evans, Esq, President
New Jersey 2nd Amendment Society Frank Flamingo, President
Oregon Firearms Federation Kevin Starrett, Executive Director
Peaceable Texans for Firearms Rights Paul Velte, President
Pennsylvania, ACSL Kim Stolfer, Legislative Committee Chairman
Shooters Committee on Political Education, NY Stephen Aldstadt, President
Utah shooting Sports Council Clark Aposhian, Chairman
Virginia Citizens Defense League Philip Van Cleave, President
West Virginia Citizens Defense League Keith Morgan, President
Western Missouri Shooters Alliance Kevin Jamison, Press Officer
Wisconsin Carry, Inc. Nik Clark, Chairman/President