Here are some of the top stories we brought you in the NRA-ILA Grassroots Alert in 2011. With what will be a critically important 2012, we must increase our efforts to ensure we're prepared to meet the great opportunities and challenges we will face next year. We will continue to provide you with information in future Alerts to ensure our mutual success.
- The Ohio Supreme Court issued a ruling upholding Ohio's firearms preemption law and siding with both the state's and NRA's position, as outlined in a ?friend of the court? brief filed with the court. The case, City of Cleveland v. State of Ohio, stemmed from the city?s scheme to establish a series of restrictive gun laws despite Ohio law, which clearly prohibits such municipal gun ordinances.
- The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 was signed into law. The legislation included several provisions developed by NRA-ILA and pro-Second Amendment members of Congress, that provide practical benefits to gun owners while protecting the privacy and Second Amendment rights of gun-owning military personnel and their families and civilian employees of the Department of Defense.
- U.S. Reps. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) and Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) introduced H.R. 420 -- the "Veterans' Heritage Firearms Act." The legislation would provide a limited amnesty period for veterans who served overseas before 1968. During the amnesty period, the veterans would be able to register war relic firearms without fear of prosecution. This amnesty would also extend to a veteran's lawful family members.
- U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to respond to allegations that it allowed suspicious firearm transactions to proceed, and that a gun sold in one of those cases may have been involved in a shootout that claimed the life of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
- The U.S. House voted for an amendment to H.R. 1 offered by Reps. Denny Rehberg and Dan Boren that prohibits the use of federal funds for a new and unauthorized multiple sales reporting scheme proposed by BATFE. The measure passed the chamber with broad bipartisan support.
- In 2009, the Obama administration approved the importation and sale of collectible, American-made M1 Garand rifles and M1 carbines from South Korea. However, the administration reversed its decision in March 2010, deciding instead to prevent these rifles ?legal to make and purchase in the United States?from entering the country. S. 381?the Collectible Firearms Protection Act?and its House companion bill, H.R. 615 were introduced. The bills seek to once again allow these American-made firearms to be re-imported and sold in the U.S.
- NRA worked with a coalition of the nation's largest hunting and conservation groups to address the wolf management crisis. The coalition thanked members of Congress for taking several steps in the right direction for wolf conservation, and reminded Congress that all wolves in the Rockies and Great Lakes area are recovered and should now be managed by state biologists. The coalition supports all four pending bills in the House and Senate to move recovered wolf populations to state wildlife management.
- H.R. 822, was introduced in the U.S. House by Representatives Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Heath Shuler (D-N.C.). The measure would allow any person with a valid state-issued concealed carry permit to carry a concealed firearm in any state that issues concealed firearm permits, or that does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms. A state's laws governing where concealed firearms may be carried would apply within its borders. The bill also applies to Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and U.S. territories. H.R. 822 would not create a federal licensing system. Rather, it would require the states to recognize each others' carry permits, just as they recognize drivers' licenses and carry permits held by armored car guards.
- A peerless friend of gun owners, retired U.S. Sen. James A. McClure, R-Idaho?who aggressively led the advancement of the Second Amendment cause in the U.S. Senate for two decades?died on February 26.
- U.S. Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.) introduced S. 570 -- "a bill to prohibit the Department of Justice from tracking and cataloguing the purchases of multiple rifles and shotguns." The bill would prohibit the use of federal funds for a multiple sales reporting scheme proposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
- NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox sent letters to key leaders in Congress calling for hearings to examine the firearms trafficking investigations tactics employed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Those tactics have allegedly allowed firearms to fall into the hands of Mexican criminal organizations, with the knowledge of the BATFE. In the letters sent to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) and their counterparts in the U.S. Senate, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Cox wrote that the BATFE project ?reportedly allowed over 2,000 firearms to be sold to individuals already linked to Mexican drug cartels. Many of those transactions were reported as suspicious by the licensed firearms dealers themselves, but BATFE reportedly encouraged them to proceed with these sales, which the dealers would otherwise have turned down.?
- Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) signed legislation authorizing a mourning dove hunting season. With this historic expansion of hunting opportunities through SF 464, the Legislature and Governor demonstrated their steadfast commitment to sportsmen and gun owners.
- Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed into law House Bill 2013 and Senate Bill 152. HB 2013 enables residents of Kansas to purchase long guns in non-contiguous states and residents of non-contiguous states to purchase long guns in Kansas. SB 152 allows persons licensed to carry a concealed firearm to lawfully carry their firearm while hunting.
- ?Permitless Carry? legislation, Senate File 47, and ?Castle Doctrine? legislation, House Bill 167, were signed into law by Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R).
- House Bill 1079, signed into law by Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R), clarifies that residents of non-contiguous states may purchase long guns in South Dakota.
- Gov. Steve Beshear (D) signed into law House Bill 308. The legislation will implement the federal NICS Improvements Amendments Act by enabling residents of Kentucky, who have lost their firearm rights because of a mental health-related commitment or adjudication, to petition a court to have them restored.
- The continuing resolution for FY 2011 included a general provision that delists certain populations of wolves from the Endangered Species Act. Wolf populations in Montana and Idaho as well as portions of Utah, Oregon and Washington would be declared recovered by reinstating the 2009 ruling from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), paving the way for regulated wolf hunting seasons.
- The NRA, and American gun owners, lost a loyal friend on April 16, 2011, when former U.S. Rep. Harold L. Volkmer died in his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri. He had just celebrated his 80th birthday, and was pleased to read the hundreds of cards he had received from grateful gun owners.
- The Mexican government continued its attempt to blame the American gun community for Mexico?s internal strife, and retained the New York City-based law firm of Reid Collins & Tsai to examine its options for suing U.S. gun manufacturers and distributors. Such lawsuits have been used for decades as a tactic by anti-gun groups and governments in their attempts to bankrupt gun manufacturers and circumvent the political process. However, the ?Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act? protects firearm manufacturers, distributors, dealers and importers from lawsuits brought about as a result of "the harm solely caused by the criminal or unlawful misuse of firearm products or ammunition products by others when the product functioned as designed and intended."
- U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) and U.S. Representatives Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), Mike Ross (D-Ark.), Bob Latta (R-Ohio) and Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), introduced legislation to protect traditional lead ammunition and fishing tackle from a potential ban by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed into law the ?Fraudulent Firearms Purchase Prevention Act.? Senate Bill 856 protects lawful firearm retailers from illegal gun sting operations.
- Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) signed into law two pro-gun reforms. House Bill 1438 allows North Dakota workers to store their firearms in locked personal vehicles on publicly accessible parking lots without fear of being fired. House Bill 1269 will grant persons who have lost their firearm rights because of a mental health commitment or adjudication the right to petition to have them restored.
- Senate File 456, signed into law by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R), is designed to improve the language under last session?s "shall-issue" law and allow Iowa state law to meet the requirements set forth in the federal NICS Improvement Amendments Act.
- Gov. Jan Brewer (R) brought pro-gun reforms to the state of Arizona by signing key pieces of legislation. Senate Bill 1469 strengths the current ?Castle Doctrine? language by broadening the definition of reasonable use of force, including deadly force, to provide greater protection for those forced to defend themselves or family from an attacker. House Bill 2645 is designed to meet the requirements of the federal NICS Improvement Amendments Act by enabling persons who have lost their firearm rights because of a mental health-related commitment or adjudication to petition a court to have them restored.
- Gov. Dave Heineman (R) signed Legislative Bill 512 into law. LB 152 requires the state to provide information concerning mental health adjudications to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database and sets up a relief from disabilities process. In addition, LB 512 makes numerous improvements to Nebraska?s right-to-carry laws.
- On May 1, Navy SEALS provide America with an historic event that will forever be seared in our memories: the killing of Osama bin Laden -- the mastermind behind the September 11 terrorist attacks on our nation.
- NRA filed its formal comments on the "ATF Study on the Importability of Certain Shotguns." The "study," published in January, proposed to ban the importation of any shotgun, regardless of action type, if it has one or more supposedly non-"sporting" features.
- NRA challenged the constitutionality of Illinois' complete and total ban on carrying firearms for self-defense outside the home or place of business. The case, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, is Shepard v. Madigan. The lead plaintiff is church treasurer Mary Shepard; joining her is the Illinois State Rifle Association, NRA's state affiliate.
- Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) and Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) introduced H.R. 1865, the Recreational Lands Self-Defense Act, which is designed to protect the rights of gun owners on lands owned or managed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
- Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) signed into law five pro-firearm bills: Senate Enrolled Act 506 (Transport Permit Reform), Senate Enrolled Act 292 (Firearm Preemption Reform), Senate Enrolled Act 94 (Non-Contiguous State Firearm Purchase), Senate Enrolled Act 411 (Parking Lot), and Senate Enrolled Act 154 (allows loaded firearms on off-road vehicles on private property if the person has permission to be on the property).
- The FBI estimated that the number of violent crimes decreased 5.5 percent from 2009 to 2010, including a 4.4 percent decrease in the number of murders. Because the U.S. population increased during the period, the figures imply that the total violent crime per capita rate and the murder rate decreased more than six percent and five percent, respectively. This brings the violent crime to a 37-year low and the murder rate to a 47-year low.
- Assembly Bill 217, signed into law by Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), allows residents of non-contiguous states to purchase long guns in Nevada. It also allows Nevada residents to purchase long guns in non-contiguous states.
- The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals conclusively and forcefully held, without need for oral argument, that the National Rifle Association has the right to recover attorneys' fees in its lawsuits against the city of Chicago's and the village of Oak Park's unconstitutional gun bans. The court held that NRA was a prevailing party in the case of National Rifle Association v. City of Chicago and Village of Oak Park.
- Congressional hearings held by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform revealed that the gun smuggling investigation known as ?Fast and Furious,? implemented out of the Phoenix Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives office, was conducted in a reckless manner that led to the illegal sale of thousands of firearms. Many of those firearms ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels and other criminals, and may have contributed to the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
- A proposal by U.S. Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) to prohibit necessary and legal practices used to effectively manage wildlife and predator species was overwhelmingly defeated in the House of Representatives. The amendment to H.R. 2112?the Agriculture appropriations bill?was strongly opposed by NRA and other pro-hunting organizations. It was pushed by the Humane Society of the United States and other radical anti-hunting groups.
- Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed into law Senate Bill 321, worker protection/parking lot legislation. The Governor also signed legislation to extend the Right to Carry to your boat or personal watercraft (House Bill 25); to allow properly permitted landowners or helicopter owners to contract with third parties to ride on helicopters and take depredating feral hogs and coyotes (House Bill 716); to prevent rules restricting a foster parent's ability to transport a foster child in a private vehicle if a handgun is present (House Bill 2560); and to limit the ability of local governments to sue owners or operators of sport shooting ranges (Senate Bill 766).
- Lawful firearm retailers are protected from illegal gun sting operations such as those by anti-gun New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) signed HB 450, Fraudulent Firearms Purchase Prevention legislation
- Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) signed into law Legislative Document 35. This key piece of legislation prohibits an employer from banning an employee with a valid concealed firearms permit from keeping a firearm in the employee's vehicle as long as the vehicle is locked and the firearm is not visible.
- Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed into law Senate Bill 234 and House Bill 45. SB 234 brings reform to Florida?s ?Right-to-Carry? law and allows residents to purchase long guns in other states. HB 45 stops local politicians and governments from violating Florida law by providing penalties for willful violations.
- Louisiana residents may purchase a long gun in any state with the passage of Senate Bill 39?signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal (R).
- Gov. John Kasich (R) signed House Bill 54 into law. HB 54 brings Ohio in compliance with federal law to provide for the restoration of firearm rights for certain individuals.
- Gov. Bev Perdue (D) signed into law House Bill 650. HB 650 contains "Castle Doctrine" language, Fraudulent Firearms Purchase language, allows Right-to-Carry permit holders to store firearms in their vehicles when parked on the grounds of certain state properties and courthouses, allows for the purchase of rifles and shotguns by North Carolina residents in other states, and makes other improvements.
- NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox joined Gov. Scott Walker (R) as he signed the Wisconsin Personal Protection Act into law. This made Wisconsin the 49th state to give law-abiding citizens an option to carry a concealed firearm for personal protection.
- Gov. Tom Corbett (R) signed Pennsylvania ?Castle Doctrine? legislation into law. This common-sense measure permits law-abiding citizens to use force, including deadly force, against attackers in their homes and any place where they have a legal right to be. It also protects individuals from civil lawsuits by attackers or attackers' families when force is used.
- The Obama administration formally announced that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will require firearm dealers in the southwestern border states to file ?multiple sale? reports on detachable-magazine rifles larger than .22 caliber. Under the plan, each dealer will be required to report to the BATFE any sale of two or more such rifles to a single individual within five business days.
- NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre drew a line in the sand on behalf of American gun owners at the United Nations. LaPierre spoke to the UN?s Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) Preparatory Committee, the group drafting an international treaty that will supposedly control all non-nuclear arms, worldwide, including civilian firearms. He told the audience of delegates from approximately 150 U.N. member states that the NRA would vehemently oppose any UN treaty that in any way restricts American gun owners? rights.
- Gov. Jay Nixon (D) signed into law House Bill 294. HB 294 expands a variety of firearm rights for Missouri gun owners, and addresses a number of Right-to-Carry issues. HB 294 finally lowered Missouri?s Right-to-Carry minimum age requirement (formerly the oldest in the nation) from 23-years old to 21-years old.
- Gov. Jack Markell (D) signed into law House Bill 48. This new law updates Delaware state law to meet the requirements set forth in the federal NICS Improvement Amendments Act. In addition to conforming Delaware law to the NIAA, this legislation also repeals Delaware?s instant check for firearm purchases and moves all background checks to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
- NRA supports a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration's demand that Federal Firearms License holders report multiple sales of certain long guns in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. The suit asserts that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives lacks statutory authority to demand these reports.
- Riots, looting, violent assaults and arson left London and other UK cities looking like war zones. The current bedlam showed us what a disarmed country looks like and how little is left when free men and women surrender the right to own a firearm. Chris Cox wrote a compelling op-ed on "Britain's Criminal Utopia" for the Daily Caller.
- The Iowa Administrative Rules Committee met to review the Natural Resource Commission's (NRC) final rule for Iowa's first dove hunting season in nearly a century. In a 9-1 bipartisan vote, legislators overwhelmingly rejected the NRC's underhanded attempt to include a statewide traditional ammunition ban in the final rule. This vote allowed for a "session-delay" of the lead ammunition ban, meaning the legislature will have to act during the next legislative session to remove the ban from the final dove rule. However, Iowa's first dove season will proceed and will not include a traditional ammunition ban.
- In what can only be described as "Washington D.C. logic," the three BATFE agents who were responsible for the "Fast and Furious" debacle in Phoenix were promoted. The Department of Justice announced the appointment of U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, B. Todd Jones, to serve as Acting Director of BATFE, replacing Kenneth Melson. The DOJ also announced that Dennis Burke, U.S. attorney for the district of Arizona, resigned. And the Wall Street Journal reported that Emory Hurley, the assistant U.S. attorney responsible for the day-to-day operations of "Fast and Furious," was removed from his post and reassigned to the department's Civil Division.
- Senators Jim Webb (D-Va.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) introduced S. 1588??The Recreational Land Self?Defense Act." S. 1588 is the Senate companion bill to H.R. 1865 and is designed to protect the rights of gun owners on lands owned or managed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
- The Obama campaign launched a new website, AttackWatch.com. The purpose of the site is to give Obama supporters a way to report "attacks" on the president, implying that any criticism must be based on lies or misinformation. When it comes to firearm issues, it's this site that is misrepresenting President Obama's record on guns.
- In what promises to be a continuing debate on the rights of law-abiding citizens, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that banning firearms on the grounds of Oregon's public universities exceeded the scope of the university system's authority, thereby opening up the state's campuses to individuals who hold valid concealed handgun licenses.
- The New Hampshire House voted to override the Governor?s veto of Senate Bill 88. SB 88 is now law, and establishes that the law-abiding have the right to defend themselves from assault wherever they have a legal right to be when they believe there is an imminent threat to their life and well being.
- A divided federal appeals court upheld the District of Columbia's controversial ban on semi-automatic rifles and so-called ?large capacity? magazines, but asked a lower court to reconsider certain aspects of its gun registration system.
- The ?Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act,? which was added to H.R. 2349 as an amendment, passed the House. The bill will provide individuals receiving veterans' benefits with added protection against loss of the right to possess firearms due to mental health decisions.
- House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) subpoenaed the Justice Department in the ?Fast and Furious? scandal. The subpoena seeks documents and all communications between the office of Attorney General Eric Holder, his deputies, and the White House in connection with the now-infamous Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive?s failed operation.
- U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) introduced the Senate companion bill to H.R. 58, the ?Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act,? which was reintroduced in the U.S. House in Jan. 2011. This common sense reform to broaden lawful interstate sales of firearms has been an NRA priority for many years.
- NRA launched an ad campaign to tell President Obama to fire Attorney General Eric Holder. The cauldron that is the ?Fast and Furious? scandal continues to boil, with an increasing number of members of Congress now calling for Attorney General Eric Holder?s immediate resignation. Meanwhile, the White House and the Justice Department remain silent and stubbornly continue to ignore the demands to remove Holder.
- The Washington state Court of Appeals affirmed that a gun ban in Seattle's parks is illegal. The decision comes more than a year after a King County judge sided with several area gun owners, NRA, the Second Amendment Foundation.
- The ongoing effort to fully vindicate the fundamental, individual right to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense took a major step forward with House passage of H.R. 822, the ?National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011.? The bill, sponsored by Reps. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), which had 245 cosponsors, was approved by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 272-154.
- The final conference report on the combined Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture, Commerce/Justice/Science (CJS) and Transportation/Housing/Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill was passed by both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate, and was signed into law. This conference report contains 12 provisions that strengthen legal protections for the Second Amendment.
- NRA will fight the proposal by the Obama administration and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to drastically restrict recreational shooting opportunities on public lands. NRA is particularly concerned about the stated motive of this action. A spokesman for the BLM told U.S. News and World Report that the proposed ban was being enacted in response to "urbanites" who "freak out" when they hear shooting on public lands. The spokesman also acknowledged that the impetus for this restriction was not rooted in safety, but to reduce "social conflict."
- The Senate Judiciary Committee?s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism held a hearing on Sen. Charles Schumer?s (D-N.Y.) S. 436. Dubbed by anti-gunners the ?Fix Gun Checks Act,? the legislation would eliminate private sales and gun shows as we know them and expand the range of persons prohibited from owning firearms.
- NRA opposition helps defeat the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Halligan had a record of attacks on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. NRA?s opposition to this nomination began in March 2011, when we expressed our concerns to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
- Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed Assembly Bill 69 into law. This law provides essential protections for law-abiding citizens who defend themselves and their families from a criminal looking to do them harm.