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NRA Backers Grapple With Terrorist Threat
More than 1,500 gun rights supporters meeting at a
New York hotel Sunday had a message for terrorists
who may be planning another attack on America:
Next time your victims might be armed and able to
Headliners of the event, sponsored by The
Sportsman's Association for Firearms Education
(S.A.F.E.) and billed as "The 2001 Right to Carry
Conference," included staunch Second Amendment
backer Georgia Rep. Bob Barr and Prof. John Lott
Jr., author of "More Guns, Less Crime."
Also addressing the standing-room-only crowd: NRA
officials Kayne Robinson and Sandy Froman, Kevin
Watson of the Law Enforcement Alliance of America
(L.E.A.A.) and Suzanna Gratia Hupp, the Texas
state representative who became a gun rights
activist after witnessing the murder of her
parents by a gun-toting madman who killed 23 at a
Killeen, Texas, restaurant in 1991.
While some of Washington's political elite want to
restrict Second Amendment rights and other
constitutional guarantees in response to the
murder of over 6,000 people at the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon, the Melville, N.Y.,
gathering was warned that this is no time to
"We need to be very, very skeptical" about
restrictions being planned in the wake of the
Sept. 11 attacks, Rep. Barr warned.
"It will be very difficult to fight against these
new proposals, because they're being touted as
they were [after the Oklahoma City bombing] as
The Georgia conservative said that without public
resistance, his congressional colleagues could be
stampeded into backing harsh new legislation
"because they're afraid of being portrayed as
being in favor of terrorists."
Barr was also critical of ex-President Clinton's
attempts to make political hay out of the Twin
"It was bad enough to see Clinton after the
[National Cathedral memorial service] hogging TV
time. He just parked himself right on the steps as
everybody was leaving, where he knew the cameras
would be focused on him. And he just stood there
and shook hands and glad-handed like it was a
campaign event, for heaven sakes.
"Thank God these terrorist attacks didn't happen
under the Clinton administration," Barr added.
Prof. Lott cited a little-publicized aspect of
Israel's response to terrorism and suggested
America would do well to follow Israel's example.
"A few years ago, after a wave of terrorist
attacks, Israel's national police chief called on
all concealed [carry] permit holders to carry
their firearms at all times," he told the crowd.
"The Israelis realize that the police simply can't
be there at all times to protect people from
Lott urged the NRA to educate Americans to the
fact that restrictive gun laws actually increase
crime and cost hundreds of lives each year.
A living testament to Lott's point is Rep. Hupp,
who recounted the day her parents were shot to
death in a Texas restaurant as she looked on
helplessly - with her own gun lying useless in the
family's car just 100 feet away.
A Texas gun control law, since repealed, made it
illegal for Hupp to carry the weapon, which might
have saved the lives of not only her parents but
also 21 other people, into the building.
She warned that all the security in the world was
no substitute for a public able to defend itself,
and she underscored the point with a startling
Displaying a small penknife, she told the crowd,
"Flying up here this weekend I went through two
security checkpoints with this in my purse. It's
got about an inch-and-a-half real sharp blade on
it. Doesn't that make you feel safe?"
The NRA's Sandy Froman echoed Hupp's sentiments:
"The next time someone tells you that the militia
referred to in the Second Amendment has been
superseded by the National Guard, ask them who it
was who prevented United Airlines Flight 93 from
reaching its target."
"Those brave souls did what they could," she
added. "But because they were unarmed, all they
could do was crash that plane so more people
wouldn't die. Think what they might have been able
to do had they been armed."
Froman's NRA colleague Kayne Robinson talked about
the kind of national response necessary to deter
future acts of terrorism.
"Real security against attacks by state-sponsored
terrorists lies in the knowledge by those states
that they will be totally destroyed if they attack
us. ... The cost must be so great that no one will
ever forget - a cost with the mental impact of
Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Dresden."
S.A.F.E. President John Cushman reminded those who
want to blame firearms for America's violence,
"The largest mass murder in American history was
just committed without the use of a single gun.
... Twenty thousand gun laws couldn't have
prevented the Twin Towers massacre."
The L.E.A.A.'s Kevin Watson warned, "You can't
take measures like authorizing the military to
shoot down aircraft if you won't allow pilots to
shoot down terrorists."
Watson also noted that since the events of Sept.
11, Handgun Control Inc. has announced it is
laying off 20 percent of its staff due to
declining interest in gun control.
Also on hand was Republican Alan Skorski, who
hopes to unseat Congress' No. 1 gun control
advocate, Carolyn McCarthy. McCarthy was
catapulted into politics after her husband was
shot to death in 1993's Long Island Railroad
But Skorsky said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks
have changed the political landscape in a way that
may make McCarthy politically vulnerable in 2002.
"The Democratic Leadership Council no longer wants
to ignore the 80 million gun owners in this
country," he told NewsMax.com.
"Some House members are now softening their
position. Carolyn McCarthy is one of those people.
... When she won on election night 1994, she said,
'Tonight I defeated the NRA.' I want to hear her
come out and say, 'I was wrong. I apologize for
demonizing gun owners for the last six years.'"
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