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NRA Says Honest Americans Would Turn in Banned Guns  by Angel Shamaya

NRA Says Honest Americans Would Turn in Banned Guns

by Angel Shamaya

"Bill did what any honest, law-abiding American would do...he turned in his SKS Sporter [a militia rifle] to the police."

—NRA video entitled "It Can't Happen Here"
11:45 into video
(Watch It.)

April 4, 2002

NRA Attorney Chuck Michel helping turn in a banned gun.
NRA Attorney Chuck Michel providing escort service for the surrender of Mr. Bill Doss' perfectly good militia rifle on January 21, 1998.  Second Amendment Foundation gave Michel the "Madison Award" for his work in California, specifically citing the Doss case in the announcement of the award. — The National Rifle Association created a video to educate people about gross civil and human rights violations taking place in the state of California. The video, found at, is entitled "It Can't Happen Here." That video is found here:, and as of April 4, 2002, it's being promoted on the home page of The video was also broadcast all over California at tremendous expense.

In "It Can't Happen Here," NRA expertly reveals the unscrupulous, capricious and unAmerican gun prohibition taking place in California. It's enough to make a sane gun owner's blood boil. One section of the video, however, tells us that "any honest...American would do" what Bill Doss did, and that Bill Doss "turned in his SKS Sporter to the police." A transcript of the section of the video recounting Mr. Doss' story is found below.


NRA President Charleton Heston, on the other hand, stood before the media and thousands of members holding a musket and declaring "From My Cold Dead Hands!" His strong words brought thunderous applause from the record-attendance crowd — but few people think anyone will beat down Mr. Heston's door to confiscate his antique firearm, many suggest he should have been holding at least an AR-15, and the confused message sent to NRA members and gunowners at large is stark.

On one hand, we are told that if we are honest, we'll turn our guns in, and on the other hand we're left with a fighting message. Which is it? Which is the NRA's real position? Do we be "honest" and turn 'em in, or do we stand and fight like America's Founders did?


"So as we set out this year to defeat the divisive forces that would take freedom away, I want to say those words again for everyone within the sound of my voice to hear and to heed, and especially for you, Mr. Gore: From my cold dead hands!"

—NRA President Charleton Heston
129th Annual NRA Meeting, May 20 2001


NRA management telling you that an honest gunowner would turn in his militia rifle to a dishonest and unjust government defies the truth as espoused by America's founding fathers: the right of the people — people like Bill Doss — to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Why is the NRA suggesting that defying evil laws is dishonest?

The largest gun-rights organization in America telling American gun owners that if they are "honest" they "would" "turn in [their guns] to the police" is worse than if Martin Luther King had told black people to sit at the back of the bus. NRA tells cops to enforce anti-gunowner laws with zero tolerance — some of those laws mean a 10-year prison sentence for mere possession.

And even though Heston's latest "From My Cold Dead Hands" decree came three years after an NRA Attorney escorted a banned gun into police hands, the NRA video is still being promoted on NRALive's home page to this day. If Heston's decree were showing a change in position — from surrendering to fighting — why is the video still being promoted?

What is "honest" about obeying a gun ban? Martin Luther King told us that "one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." Mr. Heston has bragged about having marched with Dr. King in civil rights marches. Does NRA's surrender mean Dr. King's passive resistance was the wrong approach? Or does NRA simply wave guns around making idle and empty declarations of fighting only when it serves their hypocritical fundraising efforts?

If obeying a gun ban was an American thing to do, the American Revolution would never have taken place; the men at Lexington & Concord would simply have handed them over like Mr. Doss did, and we'd still be a British colony. Instead, they said "You can have our cannons, but you'll have to take our balls with them." And they meant it.

Whether or not to obey an unconstitutional gun ban is up to the individual gun owner living under such an edict. And many thousands of California gun owners are operating in violation of several of the state's illegal gun edicts. If these people, many of them NRA members, follow Heston's "From My Cold Dead Hands" advice and shoot a gun-confiscating civil servant, will NRA ignore them, vilify them, or worse?

How does NRA reconcile "From My Cold Dead Hands" with their current and ongoing call for "zero tolerance enforcement of all gun laws"?

NRA members deserve to have clear communication from HQ on these vital issues.

QUESTION FOR MR. HESTON & MR. LAPIERRE: Are you saying that we gunowners are supposed to turn in effective militia rifles, but fight with our lives over single shot muskets? Please clarify. More questions below transcript.


Bill Doss, "CA Gun Law Victim"

The story of Bill Doss is introduced at 8:43 on the video, just after a commercial asking for money from American gun owners. That segment of the video begins with Mr. Doss relaying his story.


Bill Doss:

"Registration in this case led to confiscation. They confiscated my firearm. No, they didn't break down the door in the middle of the night and come and get my gun, but what they told me if you don't turn in the gun, we are gonna break down the door and come and get you."

Narrator, Jenny Simone (SP?),'s official voice and face:

"Bill Doss, retired Air Force officer and airline pilot, followed the law, and was still declared an instant criminal."



"Immediately you're a criminal, by owning, by definition, an assault weapon, which, I mean, is, it's really a sporting rifle."


"Looking through these records, Bill Doss still can't believe it. When he and his wife decided to move to California, he checked with the authorities to see if his gun, an SKS Sporter rifle, was still legal.

"First, he called ATF in Washington."


"The agent I talked to was very informative and said no, it was not listed, and I said, well, uh, 'can you send me any information.' And he said sure. He said 'I'll send you pages out of my ATF manual.'"


[showing letter] "This was the document ATF sent to Bill. A page and picture from its official manual verifying that the SKS Sporter was legal. But just to be safe, Bill Doss decided to contact the California Attorney General's office in Sacramento. He sent along his correspondence from ATF, and within 10 days, Bill got a letter back."


[showing letter] "This is the letter from the Attorney General, uh, saying that the SKS Sporter with detachable magazines are not an assault weapon in California. So with the cover letter and the drawing with it annotated OK, I had every reason to believe that bringing the SKS Sporter into California was a perfectly legal action on my part."


"Perfectly legal, that is, until the rules changed — because the Attorney General changed his mind, and changed the definition of an assault weapon.


"Total confusion. It was like 'this letter is not really addressed to me, it's really not the gun we're talking about, there must be a mistake.'"

Narrator, At 11:45 in video:

"But it was no mistake."

"In the end, Bill did what any honest, law-abiding American would do. These photos are a reminder of the day he'll never forget — the day he turned in his [militia rifle!] SKS Sporter to the police. Suddenly, Bill got this letter [showing letter] warning him that his SKS Sporter was now illegal to own."


"I think mine is a classic case. They had my name as an owner of an SKS Sporter. When it came time for them to redefine the SKS Sporter, they knew where to find me. That's registration."

LATER IN VIDEO, Narrator tells us:

"Senate Bill 23 [now the law in California] could add hundreds of rifles, shotguns and handguns to the list of banned firearms."



SB 23 — introduced on Pearl Harbor Day in 1998 — was signed by Governor Gray Davis and Chaptered by Secretary of State Bill Jones (the same losing candidate NRA backed for the recent California gubernatorial primary) as Chapter 129 in the Statutes of 1999. It became law on January 1, 2000. And it does indeed ban more firearms, magazines and creates new classes of victimless felonies. People who follow the law — as NRA puts it, be "honest" and "turn them into the police" — can expect zero reimbursement. (See Section 15 of SB 23.) Does that mean the NRA will say that any honest American would turn them in to the police? And even if they don't, will they continue their current calls for "zero tolerance enforcement" of gun bans? Or will they continue to raise money on how they are defending the Second Amendment, hundreds of millions a year, but continue to avoid doing whatever it takes to win a Supreme Court case on behalf of longsuffering gunowners?

Following are a few statements found on the official website for the State of California:

Quick Facts Gun Safety

"California's gun safety laws are among the toughest in the nation. In his first year in office, Governor Gray Davis signed a series of laws restricting the manufacture, importation, or sale of "unsafe handguns," and required all firearms sold in the State be equipped with trigger locks. Governor Davis also signed laws that increase regulations for gun shows, limit gun purchases to one a month, and institute the toughest ban on assault weapons in the nation."

"California has the toughest assault weapons ban in the nation. It bans the manufacture and sale of 'copycat' assault weapons, defining the term assault weapon through generic characteristics concerning the capacity and functioning of the weapon."

"Saturday Night Special Law bans handguns that fail basic safety standards."

"Governor Davis also issued an Executive Order requiring State agencies to destroy all firearms confiscated or out-of-date."

"California has prohibited the purchase of more than one handgun per month."

"High-capacity magazines that are capable of holding more than 10 rounds are prohibited."

"Persons moving to California who intend to bring with them any pistol, revolver or other concealable firearm must report the weapon or sell or transfer it to a licensed dealer or a law enforcement agency within 60 days."


Do you want ALL of California's gun prohibitions enforced with zero tolerance?

If so, do you want gunowners to be "honest" and turn all of the banned guns over to the oath-breaking police like Mr. Doss did?

If so, how do you reconcile this fact with your alleged defense of Liberty? Of the Second Amendment?

Is Mr. Heston's "From My Cold Dead Hands" decree a mere marketing ploy — to rile up the gunowners so they'll send you more money?

Is there ANY gun law you'd encourage The People — the ones mentioned in "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" — to ignore, to defy, to openly violate? If not, then what will stop our aggressors?

If a coalition of gun rights groups begins openly calling for outright civil disobedience — violation of the laws you want enforced — will you vilify them, castigate them, turn against them even if they are comprised of your own members?

What is the true meaning and purpose of the Second Amendment?

NRA management should answer these questions if they expect the continued support of patriots who CAN answer these questions.  Is there anyone from HQ who will?



More info on concerns with NRA management:


Printer Version

By calling attention to a well-regulated militia for the security of the Nation, and the right of each citizen to keep and bear arms, our Founding Fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy. Although it is extremely unlikely that the fears of governmental tyranny, which gave rise to the second amendment, will ever be a major danger to our Nation, the amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic military-civilian relationships, in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of the country. For that reason I believe the second amendment will always be important. --JOHN F. KENNEDY

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