CCRKBA CALLS SHAYS-MEEHAN VOTE THE ‘ST. VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE OF BILL OF RIGHTS’

Thursday, February 14th, 2002

BELLEVUE, WA – Calling it “the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of the Bill of Rights,” the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms today condemned the US House of Representatives for its middle-of-the-night passage of the “Shays-Meehan” campaign finance reform bill.

“Running scared from the horrible disclosures surrounding the Enron scandal, the U.S. House of Representatives massacred the First Amendment rights of every grassroots interest group in the country,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “And rather do it in the light of day, they waited until the early morning hours of St. Valentine’s Day, while the nation slept, to adopt legislation that is a direct assault on freedom of speech.”

CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron noted that many of those who voted for the Shays-Meehan package are also long-time backers of restrictive gun control.

“It’s a sad day when so many members of Congress who are already after our Second Amendment rights are now after our First Amendment rights as well,” Waldron stated. “If you look at the vote, many of the people who supported the so-called campaign finance reform bill are also the most ardent proponents of gun control.”

Gottlieb noted that, while CCRKBA does not oppose the ban on so-called “soft money” donations to national political parties, the organization strongly objects to language that would restrict broadcast advertising for 60 days prior to a general election. The House narrowly rejected an amendment backed by various gun rights organizations that would have specifically protected pre-election advertising related to the Second Amendment. Gottlieb said that vote was “telling.”

“For years,” Gottlieb said, “CCRKBA and others have been warning the country that Congressional zealots are not merely after the Second Amendment, but the entire Bill of Rights. Passage of Shays-Meehan is proof positive that those who oppose a citizen’s right to own a gun are now focusing on their right to free speech.

“It comes as no surprise,” he concluded, “that Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason said the bill, as written, is unworkable and unenforceable, and that some provisions of the bill are, in his words, ‘flatly unconstitutional’.”