Gun Owners of America
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Gun Owners of America logo
|H. L. Richardson|
Gun Owners of America (GOA) is a gun rights organization in the United States with over 300,000 members. It makes efforts to differentiate itself from the larger National Rifle Association (NRA), and has publicly criticized the NRA on multiple occasions for allegedly compromising on gun rights issues and thereby selling out the gun rights movement.
The GOA has often been in opposition to the NRA in its endorsements and ratings of politicians and candidates. For instance, the GOA was outspoken in its opposition to John McCain's 2008 presidential bid, describing his gun-rights voting record as "abysmal, wretched, and pathetic" and giving him an F- grade on Second Amendment issues since 2004, while the NRA (through its PAC, the NRA-PVF) gave him a C+. The GOA took issue with the NRA over the 2007 NICS Improvement Act.
The GOA has been described by Congressman Ron Paul as "The only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington." This quote from Paul has long been displayed prominently on the home page of the Gun Owners of America website, and Paul was the only 2008 Presidential candidate to receive an A+ grade from Gun Owners of America.
Gun Owners of America was founded in 1975 by the NRA board member and California state senator H.L. Richardson when legislation to ban all handguns was introduced in California. Richardson continues to serve as the chairman of Gun Owners of America. Richardson also founded Gun Owners of California, which deals specifically with gun ownership rights in California.  GOA's executive director is Larry Pratt, who also hosts GOA's audio webcast, Live Fire.
Gun Owners of America is a non-profit organization whose main goal is to preserve and defend the Second Amendment. GOA sees the right to bear arms as a fundamental freedom issue. GOA's stance is to "never compromise" and not to accept the status quo. According to GOA's official website, its board contends that Americans have lost some of their gun rights, and GOA strives to get them back. For the past 30 years GOA has been building a nationwide network of lawyers to aid in challenging gun control legislation in the courts. GOA has been involved in legal proceedings in almost every state in the hopes of maintaining and advancing pro-gun legislation and rights.
By its own account, GOA spent over $1.75 million lobbying Congress in 2004, and over $18 million between 1998 and 2004. GOA's Federal Political Action Committee is "Gun Owners of America Inc. Political Victory Fund" (C00278101). It raises funds to support the election of pro-gun candidates at all levels of government.
Gun Owners Foundation (GOF) is a non-profit, tax-deductible educational foundation. It acts as the research arm for GOA. Its main objective is to hold seminars around the country to inform the public, media outlets, and various government officials on Second Amendment issues. The GOF has recently begun a new campaign by creating Public Service Announcements (PSA) to promote what it calls "PROPER Gun Safety". According to GOF, its campaign objective is "to generate public awareness of the dangers of not having a gun ready for protection and to encourage gun owners not to lock up their best means of self-defense." The PSAs focus mainly on trying to persuade their target audience, American adults in gun owning households, to not lock up fire arms, but instead to keep them ready and accessible. According to the PSAs:
- Guns are used 2.5 million times a year in self-defense. Citizens use guns to defend themselves against criminals as many as 2.5 million times every year—or about 6,850 times a day. This means that each year, firearms are used more than 60 times more often to protect the lives than to take lives.
- Locking up firearms can cost lives during a life-threatening situation.
- Guns are the "great equalizer" for women. As many as 200,000 women use a gun every year to defend themselves against sexual abuse.
- Gun owners are a good form of crime control. Citizens shoot and kill at least twice as many criminals as police do every year (1,527 to 606).
GOA publicly denounced then President-elect Barack Obama, stating that "Based on his voting record in the Illinois state senate and in the U.S. Senate, President-elect Barack Obama will be the most anti-Second Amendment president in the history of America." GOA was worried that with the Democratic Party majority in the 111th Congress, having President Obama alongside Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (both rated F- by the GOA), will mean Second Amendment-protected rights could be affected. GOA concerns about the Obama administration and current Congress include:
- The reenactment of the expired Assault Weapons Ban;
- Legislation to end gun shows;
- Legislation banning .50 caliber rifles or ammunition;
- Expansion of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System;
- Ratification of international treaties with intrinsic effects on American firearm laws, such as CIFTA;
GOA failed in its battle against New York Senator Chuck Schumer's (D-NY) NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007. The group claimed the bill (HR 2640 & S 2084) would give authorities -- including courts, psychiatrists, and in some cases psychologists -- the ability to revoke the Second Amendment rights of veterans who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. GOA contended that this would be an infringement on the rights of veterans with mental disorders. They also feared that such a measure would have tremendous repercussions on misdiagnosed and improperly classified veterans. The bill was signed into law on January 8, 2008.
On June 6, 1995, GOA helped in lobbying the House of Representatives to vote against the Moran Amendment, by a vote of 278 to 149. The amendment would have banned .50 caliber weaponry from being licensed for export.
On July 13, 2006, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) saw an 84-16 vote for his amendment prohibiting the use of federal money for federal agents to confiscate weapons during a declared state of emergency. This bill was passed not even a year after the devastation in Vitter's home state from Hurricane Katrina.
On June 27, 2007, the Pence Amendment passed. The bill, named after Representative Mike Pence (R-IN), was passed by a vote of 309-115. According to GOA the amendment blocked the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) ability to use the Fairness Doctrine in order to radically limit the free speech allowed by organizations like GOA over the airwaves.
On August 9, 2007, GOA supported Senator Vitter's work in pushing through a bill stating that no U.S. funds can be used by the United Nations or any group affiliated with the United Nations to restrict or tax Second Amendment rights. If they attempt to do so, the U.S. can rightfully pull out all of their funds from the organization. This bill, HR-2764, also known as the Consolidated Appropriations Act, passed by an 81-10 vote.
On February 25, 2008, Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) amended bill S-1200, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. In the act, the wording stated that the funds were to be used for "violence prevention." Once the funds were attempted to be used for gun buybacks and other such anti-gun policies, Senator DeMint pushed through an amendment to the act stating that the money cannot be used for any anti-gun programs. The bill passed by a margin of 78-11.
- "Larry Pratt Executive Director, GOA". Gun Owners of America. 2011. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
- GOA's Take on John McCain
- Project Vote Smart[dead link]
- "Gun owners get stabbed in back". World Net Daily. December 23, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-08.
- "GOA House Ratings For The 110th Congress". Archived from the original on February 16, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
- "H.L. "Bill" Richardson - GOA". Retrieved 2014-03-28.
- "Who Is GOA". Retrieved 2008-11-20.
- "Gun Owners of America on LobbyWatch". Retrieved 2008-05-06.[dead link]
- "FEC Disclosure Report on GOA". Retrieved 2008-05-06.
- "GOF Public Service Announcements Promoting PROPER Gun Safety". Retrieved 2008-11-20.
- "FACTS TO CONSIDER WHEN CONSIDERING BUYING A FIREARM FOR SELF-DEFENSE". Retrieved 2009-11-26.
- "Gun Rights in Peril". Retrieved 2008-11-19.
- govtrack.us retrieved 26 July, 2012
- "Gun Owners 'Get stabbed in back'". Retrieved 2008-11-05.
- "Fifty Caliber Ban". Retrieved 2008-11-16.
- "No Gun Confiscation During Emergencies". Retrieved 2008-11-16.
- "Vetoing the Unfairness Doctrine". Retrieved 2008-11-16.
- "No Funds for Anti-gun UN". Retrieved 2008-11-16.
- "No Funds for Gun Control". Retrieved 2008-11-16.
- Gun Owners of America
- Gun Owners Foundation - An affiliated nonprofit for legal assistance
- FEC filings for GOA's PAC