COUP AGAINST GUN CONTROL
Proponents of some form of gun control have been dealt a couple of setbacks in Congress, one by overeager gun control advocates and another by foes of any controls.
Probably a majority of Congressmen favor some "moderate" form of gun control such as registering handguns and banning the so-called "Saturday Night Specials." But control advocates had rigged the legislative schedule so that no vote on new controls would come until after the November elections. They did not want to endanger anyone's reelection by voting for something they claim people are clamoring for.
This timetable has been upset by passage of a tough gun-control measure by the District of Columbia city council. Since the District has only limited home rule, Congress has the power to disapprove laws passed by the local city council. Control advocates, fearful that they would be forced onto the record about the city council measure, were dismayed.
With good reason. From their standpoint, the worst has happened. Libertarian-conservative Ron Paul, a newly elected Republican Congressman from Texas, has introduced a resolution to disapprove the city council's new gun control ordinance. The resolution has a "highly privileged" status—that is, it supersedes ordinary business, will be voted on by the full House, and is not subject to amendment.
A vote on House Resolution 1447 is expected in mid-September; if it passes, the Senate will be asked to consider House Concurrent Resolution 694. The timing is lovely. Congressmen will be forced to take a public position in plenty of time for pro- and anti-gun control lobbies to get word out to the grassroots before the election. This wouldn't have happened if Paul, the most junior member of the House, had followed the conservative consensus, which mistakenly held that a resolution of disapproval would open the whole issue and result in passage of a new law. Paul did his homework—and acted on his own.
STRANGLING THE FIRST AMENDMENT
Two similar bills, now poised for consideration in both Houses, would choke the freedom of investment advisors to offer counsel. The bills would subject the advisors, including publishers of financial newsletters, to regulation and licensing by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Libertarian Advocate is opposing the bill, having submitted a statement to the relevant House subcommittee, and some newsletter publishers have formed a Committee to Protect the Small Investor (8401 Connecticut Ave., Suite 606, Washington, D.C. 20015). The controls could be beaten if effective opposition is mobilized, but will probably slip through as "noncontroversial" otherwise.
Status: S. 2849 has passed full Senate Banking Committee, and is cleared for action by full Senate. In the House, the Consumer Protection and Finance Subcommittee of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee has cleared the sister bill, HR 13737.
People to Write: Your Senators (Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515) Your Congressman and: John Murphy (D-NY), Chairman, Consumer Protection and Finance Subcommittee; John Y. McCollister (R-NE) ranking minority member, Consumer Protection Subcommittee; Harley Staggers (D-WV) and Samuel Devine (R-OH), Chairman and ranking minority member, Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee.
MOVE TO CURB FDA POWER
Steve Symms (R-ID) has introduced a bill to eliminate the Food and Drug Administration's power to rule on the efficacy as well as the safety of new drugs. This would help curb FDA's power and ease the "drug lag" which sees drugs used in Europe while banned in the United States. The bill, HR 12573, is co-sponsored by Richard Ottinger (D-NY), so there's hope of a conservative-liberal-health food enthusiasts coalition.
Status: Has just been introduced. Will fall under jurisdiction of Health and Environment Subcommittee of Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee.
People to Write: Paul Rogers (D-FL) and Tim Lee (R-KY), Chairman and ranking minority member, Health and Environment Subcommittee. Harley Staggers, Chairman and Samuel Devine, ranking minority member, of the full Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee. Your Congressman, asking for his position and requesting that he co-sponsor. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515.
The Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment through economic illiteracy and legerdemain bill has passed the House Education and Labor Committee and is awaiting action by the Rules Committee to clear it for floor action. They don't seriously want to pass this now, unless the Democrats figure a Ford veto will help them in the election campaign. But they're quite serious about next year. It's not too soon for the opposition to get mobilized.
People to Write: Your Congressman, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515.
For More Information: American Enterprise Institute (1150—17th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036) has put out a good legislative analysis of this and the opposing Kemp-McClure "Jobs Creation Act." Ask for Reducing Unemployment, price $2.00.
Audio Forum (901 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314) is marketing cassettes of Libertarian Advocate's first fund-raising dinner, held Jan. 29, 1976. Speakers included Karl Hess, Murray Rothbard, Peter Breggin, Scott Royce, Wain Dawson, Charles Morgan, yours truly. Not a bad way to get the propaganda word on why we were formed and what we're about. Tape No. 420, Price: $12.50.
Alan Bock is director of Libertarian Advocate, P.O. Box 3117, Falls Church, VA 22043, a lobbying organization formed to present libertarian viewpoints and proposals in legislatures and other key forums.