We’re entering a critical period in the legislative cycle. The new fiscal year begins on October 1, and Congress must get more than a dozen appropriation bills to the President to keep the federal government running. The appropriation process is the literal “bottom line” of the federal government: this is where the money is doled out for special programs, and where the deals are made.

If the appropriation bills are not passed and signed by the President by October 1, the government “shuts down.” This is what happened in 1995, when Congress sent all of the required appropriation acts to President Clinton well before the deadline, but Clinton vetoed several of the bills because they didn’t fund projects in his agenda. The media then turned around and blamed House Speaker Newt Gingrich and congressional Republicans for bringing government to a halt. Huh?

One problem with the appropriation process is that “riders,” amendments that have little to do with the appropriation process, get added to these bills knowing that pressure is on to pass the bills. (In most states, bill content is limited to what is described in the bill title. Unfortunately, at the federal level, totally unrelated amendments may be attached to an appropriations bill.)

This is how gun owners “ate” the reenacted Gun Free School Zones Act, overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1995, and the Lautenberg Domestic Violence Gun Disqualifier, in 1996. The amendments were slipped into a several-thousand-page omnibus (combined) appropriations package. The final version of the omnibus appropriations bill was passed on September 28, just two days before another possible government shutdown. President Clinton quickly signed the 1996 Omnibus Appropriation Act. If gave him new gun control laws for his “legacy.”

In this election year, even more pressure is on Congress to pass the various appropriation acts and get home for a long summer recess to campaign for the fall election. The sheer volume of data contained in these bills, the haste with which they must be passed, and the wheeling and dealing that accompanies the process put our gun rights at risk. Senate Democrats, especially, have vowed to block the appropriation bills unless the opportunity is offered to vote on gun control amendments. Among these are the private sale background check at gun shows, a prohibition on the import of high capacity magazines, “juvenile Brady” that would unseal juvenile records to be used as firearm disqualifiers, and other restrictions on your right to keep and bear arms.

Only YOUR action – YOUR pressure on YOUR elected officials – will prevent this year from becoming another 1996. The bills are being negotiated as you receive this issue of POINT BLANK in your mailbox. Call your U.S. Representative and Senators today and ask them to vote NO on any appropriation act that contains gun control measures. The gun control issue is too important to allow it to be buried in unrelated bills.

You can reach your U.S. Representative and your U.S. Senators by locating their telephone numbers in the U.S. Government listing (blue pages) at the front of your telephone directory. You also can e-mail your elected officials, or download specific information, from the Library of Congress web site at http://thomas.loc.gov (note there is no “www” in this web address).