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Posted: 5/20/2001 7:36:06 AM EDT
http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/natpol/20010520/t000042386.html Sunday, May 20, 2001 At NRA Convention, a Feeling of Overdue Vindication By ELIZABETH SHOGREN, Times Staff Writer KANSAS CITY, Mo.--The National Rifle Assn.--which spent eight years in the political wilderness during Bill Clinton's presidency--turned its annual meeting Saturday into a celebration of its role in helping George W. Bush restore the gun lobby to respectability. "You have proven that united, you can't be defeated," NRA President Charlton Heston told tens of thousands of cheering members. "The will of this body can't be ignored by this country." President Bush, while declining an offer to attend the gathering, sent Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton--herself an enthusiastic gun-rights advocate--to convey his gratitude to and support for the group. Her appearance demonstrated the new respect accorded the NRA after eight years of feeling that it was the whipping boy for liberal social critics. "Many of you helped President Bush win the election; we thank you," Norton told the crowd. "Some people say we can't support 2nd Amendment freedom and protect our communities and our rights, but my friends, President Bush is proving them wrong." The gun lobby has reason to be pleased: The NRA and its activists spent about $20 million on the last election, much of it aimed at motivating its members and other like-minded Americans to go to the polls to help elect Bush. Many political strategists, including Clinton, credited the organization with making the difference in some states that had close contests--especially Tennessee, Arkansas and West Virginia, any one of which could have swung the election to then-Vice President Al Gore, Bush's Democratic opponent. Under normal circumstances, NRA members would greet a videotape of Clinton with jeers. But Saturday, they erupted in applause when they were shown a tape of Clinton after Bush emerged as the winner of the nation's closest presidential election in history. "You've got to give it to them, they did a good job," Clinton said, referring to the pivotal role the NRA played. In speech after speech, NRA leaders praised their members for making the difference in November. But the praise from Heston, a father figure to the group, seemed to resonate most: "And by your works, history shall know you. You proud, you courageous, you glorious 21st century patriots." Many NRA members said they felt great relief having in the White House a man who, as Texas governor, promoted and signed legislation giving residents the right to carry concealed firearms for the first time in 125 years. "I think everybody felt that, for the eight years of the Clinton administration, we were denigrated and bashed and blamed for every social evil," said Mark Hoeppner, 38, a family farmer from Lexington, Mo. "With Bush in the White House, we feel better." During the break between the morning session and the evening banquet, thousands of members flocked to a huge hall at the Kansas City Convention Center, where scores of gun makers were showing off their wares. Carol Cation eyed a sleek rifle called a Tikka Hunter.
Link Posted: 5/20/2001 7:37:48 AM EDT
"I feel less threatened now than I did before the election," said Cation, a car dealership bookkeeper from Savonburg, Kan., who likes to shoot at targets in her backyard. NRA leaders urged the rank and file Saturday to redirect their efforts toward two new targets: defeating the landmark campaign finance reform bill that the Senate approved last month and blocking proposed legislation that would require background checks for purchases of firearms at gun shows. The NRA and its members were the sixth-most generous group or corporation to national Republican Party committees in 2000, donating $1.5 million, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Andrew Arulanandam, an NRA spokesman, said the group's total investment was closer to $20 million--including its issue ads, get-out-the-vote efforts and contributions to individual candidates. Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president, told members that if the measure prohibiting groups such as theirs from airing advertisements during the eight weeks before an election had been in effect in 2000, a different man might now be in the White House--and their gun rights might be imperiled. He called the legislation an attack on the 1st Amendment right to free speech. "We won't be silenced," he exclaimed. "If we have to, we'll launch the 'good ship NRA' and drop anchor in international waters just off the coast and broadcast the truth from our own TV towers." LaPierre cautiously aimed his rhetoric at Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a sponsor of the Senate campaign finance reform bill and a legislative proposal requiring background checks at gun shows. "An anti-1st Amendment John McCain and an anti-2nd Amendment John McCain will put John McCain on the wrong side of the Bill of Rights," LaPierre said, referring to the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. Norton's appearance gave the group another reason to believe that they have an ally in the new administration. She thanked them for the $465 million in excise taxes from their purchases of ammunition and firearms that fund wildlife habitat enhancement programs, praised the group's conservation programs, and declared her determination to be partners with them. "You are America's unsung conservation heroes," she said. But gun control advocates were outraged by Norton's decision to address the group, calling it one more sign that a top NRA official was right in February 2000 when he said that if Bush won, the NRA would "work out of" the White House. "By sending a member of his Cabinet to represent the Bush administration at the NRA's annual convention, President Bush is endorsing the dangerous agenda of the gun lobby," said Michael D. Barnes, president of Handgun Control. White House deputy counselor Dan Bartlett, while saying that the president does not share this concern, underscored that the NRA does not have an office at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The NRA had no record of a Cabinet secretary's addressing any of the previous 129 annual meetings, but President Reagan spoke to the group twice while in office. former President Bush did so once. Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times
Link Posted: 5/20/2001 8:39:26 AM EDT
It is interesting that the NRA has noted how essential gun owners were in getting Bush elected and ar-15.com members here so far, have seemed to be content to have just have "no new gun laws"... I wish big oil and energy companies would have been content to keep things as they were. But seriously, if no one wants better laws or old laws repealed, then they are content with the present laws and one must conclude that those laws are reasonable... but there has always been a lot of whining about present laws, was that whining to whine or does someone have a better idea of what the laws should be. Guess I am just confused, it seems people are complaining about the laws and are getting out the vote to support gun rights, but once they are in power they are satisfied with the present laws and see no need to change them, just enforce them... right??
Link Posted: 5/20/2001 8:42:39 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/20/2001 8:41:35 AM EDT by warlord]
I would like to remind everyone that the House of Representives has passed a bill to repeal the Fed '94 Assualt Weapons ban under Newt Gingrich. We will have to stay tuned to see what Mr. Bush does.
Link Posted: 5/20/2001 9:31:32 AM EDT
Supposedly, the NRA wrote a letter to AG Ashcroft about his position on the Second Amendment. Ashcroft's reply stated that his position, and thus that of the DOJ, is that the right to keep and bear arms is a personal right, not limited to state militias. Anybody want to place a bet on Emerson now? Kharn (I this on TFL: [url]http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=67335[/url])
Link Posted: 5/20/2001 9:56:42 AM EDT
You know that scene in westerns when the settlers circle their wagons and the Indians are riding around the perimeter? That's what the Clinton administration was like for gun owners.
Link Posted: 5/20/2001 10:33:35 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/20/2001 10:37:28 AM EDT by Sixtus]
MT-car, I am a member of the NRA and last year I donated alot of money to it. I look at my NRA membership as a VERY NECESSARY GUN ACCESSORY that protects my guns from Democrats. I feel proud of the little part I played in protecting all our guns from the Democrats in the last election. I also realize that there is a political reality and sometimes keeping what you have is a big win. How would you like to have the Democraps in office? You would already be turning in your ARs,10/22s and favorite hunting rifle too, if it is a magazine fed repeater. It's time to get out my check book AGAIN, the congressional elections are not that far away. Klintonsky [@:D]and the bug loving Democrats had 8 years too deal with the gas problem, blame him!
Link Posted: 5/20/2001 10:37:25 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Mt-car: Guess I am just confused, it seems people are complaining about the laws and are getting out the vote to support gun rights, but once they are in power they are satisfied with the present laws and see no need to change them, just enforce them... right??
View Quote
That is a point I have been bringing up for years. I truly believe that some people are so indoctrinated to tow the party line that they cheerfully accept gun control just as long as it were from their candidate. A blade through the heart, or death by a 1,000 cuts. The result is always the same. The Republic is lost.
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