Time for HELPS

Force the Issue

 

            (Manassas, VA, August 14, 2007)  The Firearms Coalition has drafted legislation which would restrict any federal funds from going to any college or university which prohibits employees and students who may lawfully possess and carry defensive weapons off campus from possessing and carrying those weapons on campus.  We call it HELPS, the Higher Education Lawful Personal Security Act and we believe it could be passed in the 110th Congress. 

 There is absolutely no way to keep armed and dangerous criminals and lunatics from bringing weapons onto a college campus.  The forced disarmament of employees and adult students does nothing but reduce the likelihood that there might be someone with a gun in the right place at the right time to stop criminal violence and save lives.  Disarming law-abiding adults, who happen to be employed by, or attend a college and who lawfully and safely carry defensive firearms when not on campus, is not just irrational – it’s downright criminal. 

It’s past time for the gun rights movement to stop pussy-footing around and take a strong, public, and principled stand.  We know what’s right and sensible and we need to act on that knowledge.  We must stop playing political games, by the politician’s rules, at the cost of our children’s lives.  The United States Congress has the power to stop federal funds – including research grants and student loans – from going to schools with disarmament policies – whether those policies come from the school itself or from state government.  The people have the power to force Congress to take such actions.

After Virginia Tech, many Americans recognized the futility and stupidity of “gun free zones.”  They recognize the fact that criminals and lunatics do not follow orders on window decals and wall signs.  The mainstream media and politicians have been successful at suppressing and muting this sentiment, but a loud, broad-based, national campaign to pass the HELPS Act would revive those attitudes and generate a groundswell of support.  The key is that the whole gun rights community must come together to push the idea.

The politicians – friends and foes alike – will hate it, but it is not the gun lobby’s job to placate politicians.  Our “friends” on the Hill will tell us it’s a bad idea, that it will offend the wrong people, that it’s a waste of time and resources because, they’ll say, we can’t get the votes, but our “friends” are politicians and their interests are not necessarily what’s best for gunowners.  Like the McClure–Volkmer Bill of the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s, the HELPS Act can serve to invigorate activists and give them a clear objective to work toward while it terrifies politicians and forces them to take a stand – either for gun rights and real security or against gun rights and for a false “feeling” of safety.

If the bill fails in the 110th Congress, votes and debate on the act give GunVoters the ammunition they need to change the make-up of congress to help ensure passage in the 111th Congress.  The debate also draws a clear line in the sand for judging Presidential candidates.  “I support the Second Amendment” leaves a lot of room for creative definitions, interpretations, and reasonable restrictions.  “I support the HELPS Act” provides a much clearer picture of just where the candidate stands.

It is obvious to anyone who watches politics that the Democrats have figured out that supporting gun control hurts their electability.  They learned this lesson the hard way in 1994 when they lost control of the House for the first time in 40 years.  What Republicans haven’t yet figured out is that if they want to have the full power of the gun lobby in their corner, simply talking pro-gun and voting right on minor issues just isn’t good enough to gin up major support from GunVoters.  To truly fire up the gun vote, someone has to make GunVoters really mad.  That requires either passing something that they really, really oppose – like the ’94 “Assault Weapons” ban – or defeating something they really, really want – Like McClure-Volkmer.  The key is that the GunVoters have to be riled up about legislation before they’ll get riled up about an election or a politician. 

If gun rights organizations and their political allies will unite behind an unambiguous bill like the HELPS Act and loudly demand a clear record vote, they can activate the forces of the grassroots gun lobby as they’ve not been activated in over a decade.  The first challenge is to get the gun rights groups all supporting the idea.  I’m afraid that might be harder than getting the bill through congress.

 

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