Though GOA members won key battles in 2008
Assault on Gun Rights Likely to Intensify
by Erich Pratt
“At this defining moment, change
has come to America.”
So said President-elect Barack Hussein
Obama in the wake of his election
victory in November.
That’s what the next four years are
going to bring. More government regulations
… more government spending
… and more battles over gun control.
Once Barack Obama takes his oath
of office in January, he will become,
without a doubt, the most anti-gun President
this nation has ever seen.
Obama’s record shows that he:
• Opposes concealed carry;
• Supports bans on many common
shotguns and semi-automatic
• Wants to limit magazine capacities
for semi-automatic firearms;
• Opposes guns being available and
ready for self-defense (that is, he
wants all guns locked up);
• Wants gun shops banned within
five miles of a school or park, making
it virtually impossible to have
such a store anywhere near your
• Favors prohibitive taxes on firearms
and hunting ammunition.
What’s worse, Obama has also supported
total gun bans. He has supported
prohibitions on inexpensive handguns,
and he has backed the draconian
gun ban in our nation’s capital —
although he seemed to moderate his
position after the Supreme Court handed
down its opinion in the Heller case
this past June.
So Obama supported the DC gun ban
before he opposed it.
In the Illinois state senate, he supported
the prosecution of gun owners
like Hale DeMar of Wilmette, who used
a handgun in his home to defend his
family in 2003.
Obama has built his career on
supporting gun control. But it gets
While Obama wants greater infringements
of our Second Amendment
rights, he also would like to place
greater limits on the free speech rights
of gun owners.
He voted last year for language that
would have required groups like GOA
to monitor and report on its communications
with its members — a requirement
that could easily have led to government
demands for GOA’s membership
list (a.k.a. registration).
Thankfully, this legislation did not
pass. But with a flood of new Democrat
blood in the Congress, Obama will
have the opportunity to pass his agenda
in a way that few Presidents before him
have been able to do.
We will still see the scores of antigun
bills that we usually see flooding
the Congress. But now, any of these
bills could easily become law.
So gun owners should expect to see
• Banning inexpensive handguns;
• Taxes (or outright bans) on hunting
• A re-authorization of the semi-auto
gun ban which was in force from
• A ban on many commonly owned
shotguns that will be redefined as
• A prohibition on gun shows; and,
• A gun ban that will prohibit the
sale of any handgun unless it is
“personalized” — thus preventing
loved ones from using a spouse’s
firearm in an emergency.
The list goes on and on. Our greatest
hope of stopping these bills will be in
the U.S. Senate, where Democrats
failed to get the coveted 60 votes — a
threshold which would prevent Republicans
from filibustering anti-gun bills.
The problem is that many of the Senate
Republicans who will be needed to
support a filibuster are not pro-gun at
Further complicating matters, the
Minority Leader in the Senate, Mitch
McConnell (R-KY), has a reputation of
compromising too often with Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
One GOP Senate aide told the Politico
website on November 5 that many
Republicans felt betrayed by Sen.
McConnell on various issues the past
couple of years. So McConnell is
going to have to change, according to
this aide, if he wants to block the
[McConnell] will have to make
dramatic changes in his muted,
style. For the last two years, he has
worked more closely with Reid
than conservatives, but he will need
them now if he wants to fight . . .
President Obama and huge Democrat
Despite all the hurdles that we see
ahead, one should not forget that 2008
was a real improvement for gun rights
in many respects. Gun Owners of
America experienced victories in the
courts … in the Congress … over federal
bureaucracies … and in the states.
All the while, GOA continued
to provide a pro-gun
voice in the media.
GOA a distinctive
voice before the
Because of generous
contributions from its members,
GOA was able to submit
a very unique amicus
brief that asked the
Supreme Court to strike
down the DC gun ban.
In fact, when USA Today
looked at all the briefs
which had been submitted,
the editors decided to use
GOA for the opposing
voice on March 19.
The paper’s editors told
our attorneys that GOA had
an argument that was clearly
distinctive, as we were the only ones
to argue that the words “shall not be
infringed” invalidated all federal gun
Achieving a supreme victory
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled
against the city of Washington, DC in
June, stating that the decades-old ban
in the nation’s capital was unconstitutional.
Among other things, GOA’s brief
countered the Bush Administration,
which had asked the Court to use the
DC case as a justification for all sorts of
GOA was pleased that the Justices
heeded our admonition to limit the
Court’s holding to the case before it,
thus shooting down both the DC government
and the Bush Administration in
their quest to validate other firearms
Thwarting the ban on
mailing certain munitions
GOA’s attorneys uncovered a proposal
in April to keep gun owners from
shipping replica or inert munitions
through the mail.
GOA immediately submitted a blistering
critique to the U.S. Post Office
and contacted thousands of grassroots
activists so they could submit their own
comments as well.
To date, the agency has backed off of
its original gun control proposal.
Fighting for concealed
carry in National Parks
After years of pleading with
the White House to repeal the
ban on carrying firearms in
national parks, GOA members
were pleased to see the administration
finally take action. It
issued regulations which took
effect at the end of June.
Since then, GOA has been
working with pro-gun congressmen
like Rep. Paul Broun of
Georgia and Sen. Tom Coburn
of Oklahoma to push legislation
that would permanently
enshrine that right to carry in
our National Parks.
Enacting a law is important
since it would prevent the
incoming Obama administration
from reversing the Bush
Nixing a committed
anti-gunner to head the ATF
When the Senate came within a couple
of hours of unanimously approving
the anti-gun nominee Michael Sullivan
for the position of BATFE Director,
GOA alerted every Senate office, urging
them to oppose the Sullivan nomination.
Thankfully, one senator filed an official
objection to Sullivan, and his nomination
was temporarily stalled.
GOA then generated a massive outpouring
of opposition from its activists,
which resulted in yet more Senators
placing “holds” on the Sullivan nomination.
GOA provided these senators with
Assault on Gun Rights
Likely to Intensify facts, figures and talking points to continue
their opposition throughout 2008.
As a result, the Senate never confirmed
Sullivan as the Director of the ATF.
Reining in the ATF
For more than 30 years, Gun Owners
of America has exposed the harassment
and ill-treatment of gun owners at the
hands of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives. This year
was no exception, as GOA spent a good
bit of time exposing the agency’s shady
dealings in email alerts and in previous
issues of this newsletter.
Recently, GOA told its email
activists how the ATF was trying to prevent
the distribution of an electronic
4473 Form. This software has been
developed by a private firm, Coloseum
Software Corporation, and is intended
to protect dealers against the “mistakes”
that have allowed the ATF to prosecute
or harass them into giving up their
GOA issued a grassroots alert in
mid-October explaining how the ATF
had been dragging its collective feet for
months — keeping Coloseum from distributing
its software, even while the
ATF was developing its own competing
software (and possibly, violating the
copyright which belonged to Coloseum).
After GOA asked gun owners to contact
the Bush Administration, the owner
of Coloseum contacted us shortly thereafter
to tell us that our alert had been a
After the GOA alert put the spotlight
on criminal activity by the
BATFE, they quickly provided us
(Coloseum Software Corp) with the
approval for the new Form 4473
which we had been asking for
months. GOA’s action brought to
light just how Big Government is
hindering small business, with
restriction of trade through monopolistic
gun owners in court
One of the priorities at GOA is helping
the little guy to defend himself
against the strong arm of the law, especially
when the “law” has been trampling
upon the rights of gun owners.
Much of the abuse has, not surprisingly,
come at the hands of the ATF, which
has been dubbed “The Gang” for their
Over the past couple of years, GOA
• Rick Celata, the owner of KT Ordinance,
who was raided by the ATF
and had his parts kits confiscated;
• Ryan Horsely, an FFL dealer in
Idaho, who finally got a judge to
order the ATF to stop auditing his
store — a tactic used by The Gang
to drive many gun dealers out of
• David Olofson, who was convicted
in federal court of transferring a
firearm which the ATF claimed was
a machine gun — a determination
that should concern every gun
owner who owns a semi-auto.
The ATF has finally decided they
have no criminal case against Celata.
That was welcome news.
Another of the cases that our foundation
recently won was Watson v. United
States. The Bush administration was
attempting to extend the definition of
“using” a gun in a crime to cover the
most ridiculous scenarios.
The victory in Watson means that if
you are speeding through a so-called
gun free school zone with a firearm in
your gun rack, the ability for prosecutors
to claim you were “using” a gun in
a crime will be greatly diminished.
In many, many areas, Gun Owners of
America has been busy in 2008 defending
your gun rights. There is not room
enough to describe the concessions
GOA won on the veterans gun ban.
And we killed legislation that, in the
hands of an anti-gun administration like
Obama’s, would have become a tool to
shut down gun shops and classify them
as “criminal gangs.”
Next year promises to be quite busy,
as well. We have another court case
that is on its way to the Supreme Court.
The stakes are high. Victory at our
highest court means we would keep
anti-gun bureaucrats from expanding
the reach of the infamous Lautenberg
gun ban, which has already disarmed
millions of Americans for simple misdemeanors
resulting from things like
mere pushing and shoving cases.
More details will follow in upcoming
editions of The Gun Owner.
So please, stand with us in 2009.
And if you are not a member,
make sure you visit our website at
www.gunowners.org and join up today!■