Gun Owners of America
|Founded||November 9, 1976|
|Purpose||To preserve, protect, and defend the second amendment rights of gun owners, including promoting and developing a greater understanding and awareness regarding the importance and benefits of firearms ownership, and conducting education and policy related to such rights.|
|Headquarters||Springfield, Virginia, US|
|H. L. Richardson|
Gun Owners of America (GOA) is a gun rights organization in the United States with over 100,000 members. It makes efforts to differentiate itself from the larger National Rifle Association (NRA) and has publicly criticized the NRA on multiple occasions for what it considers to be compromising on gun rights.
The GOA has often opposed the NRA in its endorsements and ratings of politicians and candidates. For instance, the GOA was outspoken in opposing 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 was the chairman of Gun Owners of America until his death in 2020. Richardson also founded Gun Owners of California, which deals specifically with gun ownership rights in California. GOA's current executive director as of 2018 is Erich Pratt, son of the previous director Larry Pratt, who also hosts GOA's audio webcast, Live Fire.
Gun Owners of America is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization whose main goal is to preserve and defend the Second Amendment. Gun Owners of America 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 Gun Owners of America 's official website, its board contends that Americans have lost some of their gun rights, and GOA strives to get them back. For 30 years, Gun Owners of America has been building a nationwide network of lawyers to aid in challenging gun control legislation in the courts. Gun Owners of America 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, Gun Owners of America spent over $1.75 million lobbying Congress in 2004, and over $18 million between 1998 and 2004. Gun Owners of America'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 is an educational nonprofit 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 Gun Owners Foundation around 2008 began a new campaign by creating Public Service Announcements to promote what it calls "PROPER Gun Safety". According to Gun Owners Foundation, 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 public service announcements 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 public service announcements:
- 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. As a result, each year firearms are used over 60 times more often to protect 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).
Gun Owners of America 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." Gun Owners of America was worried that with the Democratic Party majority in the 111th Congress, having 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. Gun Owners of America 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
Gun Owners of America failed in its battle against New York Senator Chuck Schumer's NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007. The group claimed the bill (HR 2640 and 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. Gun Owners of America contended that this would be an infringement on the rights of veterans with mental disorders.
On June 6, 1995, Gun Owners of America 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 weapons from being licensed for export.
On July 13, 2006, Senator David Vitter 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 less than 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 then-Representative Mike Pence, was passed by a vote of 309–115. According to Gun Owners of America, the amendment blocked the Federal Communications Commission's ability to use the Fairness Doctrine to limit the free speech allowed by organizations like Gun Owners of America over the airwaves.
On August 9, 2007, Gun Owners of America supported 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 withdraw 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 amended bill S-1200, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. The act stated that the funds were to be used for "violence prevention". Once the funds were attempted to be used for gun buybacks, DeMint pushed through an amendment to the act stating that the money cannot be used for any anti-gun programs. DeMint's amendment passed by a margin of 78–11.
- "C0802572 Gun Owners of America, Inc." Business Search. Office of the Secretary of State of California. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
- "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Gun Owners of America. Guidestar. December 31, 2015.
- "Pennsylvania Lobbying Services". palobbyingservices.pa.gov. Pennsylvania Department of State. Retrieved 2020-09-13.
- "GOA's Take on John McCain | Gun Owners of America". gunowners.org. Retrieved Mar 31, 2020.
- "Project Vote Smart - National Rifle Association Ratings". Oct 22, 2004. Archived from the original on October 22, 2004. Retrieved Mar 31, 2020.
- "GOA House Ratings For The 110th Congress". Gunowners.org. Archived from the original on February 16, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
- "H.L. "Bill" Richardson - GOA". Gunowners.org. Retrieved 2014-03-28.
- "Who Is GOA". Retrieved 2008-11-20.
- "Gun Owners of America on LobbyWatch". Archived from the original on December 10, 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
- "FEC Disclosure Report on GOA". Query.nictusa.com. Archived from the original on 2008-12-03. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
- "GOF Public Service Announcements Promoting PROPER Gun Safety". Gunowners.org. Archived from the original on 2008-10-02. Retrieved 2008-11-20.
- "Gun Rights in Peril". Gunowners.org. Retrieved 2008-11-19.
-  Archived October 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
-  Archived October 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
- John Velleco. "Gun Grabbing Legislation—The Capitol Hill Report". Gunowners.org. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
- Craig Fields. "Pro-gun Champion Under Attack—Current Alerts". Gunowners.org. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
- Craig Fields. "Senate to Vote on Kagan—Current Alerts". Gunowners.org. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
- John Velleco. "Is Harry Reid pro-gun or anti-gun?—The Capitol Hill Report". Gunowners.org. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
- Craig Fields. "Radical 'Regulatory Czar' Could Pose Problems for Gun Owners—Current Alerts". Gunowners.org. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
- Craig Fields. "Huge Power Grab Underway in Washington—Current Alerts". Gunowners.org. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
- Craig Fields. "GOA's CIFTA Treaty Analysis—Fact Sheets". Gunowners.org. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
- "Fifty Caliber Ban". Gunowners.org. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
- "No Gun Confiscation During Emergencies". Gunowners.org. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
- "Vetoing the Unfairness Doctrine". Gunowners.org. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
- "No Funds for Anti-gun UN". Gunowners.org. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
- "No Funds for Gun Control". Gunowners.org. Retrieved 2008-11-16.