Violence Policy Center
Releases Report Detailing Ashcroft Pro-Gun Record
WASHINGTON, DC�The Violence Policy Center (VPC), a national organization
working to reduce gun death and injury in America, today released John
Ashcroft: The Wrong Choice to Enforce America's Gun Laws,
an eight-page report detailing U.S. Attorney General-Designate John Ashcroft's
record on guns. The report contains seven sections detailing Ashcroft's
record: Gun Lobby Campaign Spending; Dismantling the Brady Law; Placing
Prosecutions of Illegal Gun Traffickers at Risk; Opposing the Federal
Ban on Assault Weapons and High-Capacity Magazines; Support for Arming
Felons; Placing Current Federal Gun Laws at Risk; and, Support for Criminals
Carrying Concealed Weapons.
The Violence Policy Center announced its strong opposition to the nomination
of Ashcroft last week. The VPC's announcement represents the first time
in the organization's 12-year history that it has publicly opposed a federal
"John Ashcroft has repeatedly voted to weaken the Brady law and as Attorney
General would work closely with the NRA to undermine the few safeguards
in place to protect the American public from gun violence," VPC Legislative
Director Kristen Rand said today.
Issues cited by the VPC in its opposition to Ashcroft and detailed in
the study include:
John Ashcroft would be the first Attorney General in recent history
who has been the beneficiary of massive spending by a special interest
group with a political agenda that is in direct conflict with the duties
of the office. The NRA spent a combined total of $374,137 on behalf
of Ashcroft in his failed 2000 Senate reelection bid. The NRA's Political
Action Committee contributed $9,900 directly to the Ashcroft campaign
and spent $339,237 in independent expenditures on his Senate effort.
The NRA also contributed $25,000 to the Ashcroft Victory Committee in
March of 2000.
1998 Ashcroft worked on behalf of the gun lobby in opposition to a provision
in juvenile justice legislation which would have expanded federal authority
to prosecute illegal firearm traffickers. Ashcroft's concerns centered
on a provision in the bill that would have added federal firearm violations
to the list of offenses that would trigger prosecution under the federal
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute. The change
would have subjected firearm traffickers to harsh federal penalties.
Violence Policy Center has obtained a copy of a handwritten note from
Ashcroft to Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America
(GOA) and the father of the modern militia movement. In 1996, Pratt
was forced to take a leave of absence as co-chair of Pat Buchanan's
presidential campaign after being linked with white supremacists and
right-wing militia leaders. In the letter, Ashcroft thanked Larry Pratt
for "bringing to my attention the RICO (2nd amendment) problems with
the juvenile justice bill."
went on to say, "I am working to see that the RICO provisions are stripped
from the bill prior to floor consideration." He then referenced a letter
that he and Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) had written to Senator Orrin
Hatch (R-UT). The bill was later amended to weaken the provision dealing
with illegal firearms trafficking.
Ashcroft supports NRA efforts to immediately destroy essential records
maintained under the Brady law's National Instant Criminal Background
Check System (NICS) that ensure the system's effectiveness and accuracy.
Currently the records are retained for six months.
voted last Congress to weaken the Brady law. During Senate debate on
whether to expand the current Brady NICS check to all sales at gun shows
(not just those by federally licensed dealers), Ashcroft not only voted
against the measure, but voted for legislation sponsored by Senator
Hatch that would have weakened the Brady law by reducing the time allowed
to conduct the background check by all gun-show sellers�including
licensed dealers�from three business days to 24 hours.
Ashcroft opposes the federal assault weapons ban. In September 2004
the federal ban on specific assault weapons and new high-capacity magazines�which
is supported by virtually every major national law enforcement organization�will
come up for reauthorization by Congress. Ashcroft opposes the assault
weapons ban and twice voted in the Senate against a ban on the importation
of foreign-made high-capacity magazines. The Justice Department will
likely play a key role in determining what form the reauthorized ban
will take and whether or not needed improvements to the ban are made.
Public Policy Director Joe Sudbay states, "During the 2000 elections,
the National Rifle Association claimed that if George Bush won the presidency,
the NRA would be working out of his office. Now they've gone one better.
If John Ashcroft becomes attorney general, the NRA will be running the
The Violence Policy Center is a
national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence
in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals.
The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research
on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related
death and injury.
Tuesday, January 9, 2001
Violence Policy Center