FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE For further information, call: April 19, 1993 Ed Klecka or Easter Th
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE For further information, call:
April 19, 1993 Ed Klecka or Easter Thompson,
NRA Public Affairs
NRA CALLS FOR CONGRESSIONAL INQUIRY INTO WACO RAID
Washington, D.C. -- "The February 28th raid by the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) raises more questions than
it answers," said James Jay Baker, Executive Director, NRA
Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA). "But the deaths of
four agents, and now innocent children and others, underscore the
urgency of fact-finding around this horrific tragedy that is both
thorough and independent."
Baker called for a full investigation to proceed immediately in
court, in Congress, and through the White House. "We believe
President Clinton should consider appointing an independent
special prosecutor -- whatever it takes to get an independent
assessment of both facts and tactics that led to the Waco
NRA expressed hope that Congress would deal with this massive
loss of life as it examines procedures for obtaining and serving
the warrants, the judgment of the on-scene commander and the
degree to which tactical control may have been influenced from
On the legality of particular firearms and their acquisition,
Baker counseled against speculation. "Handgun Control, Inc., and
other gun prohibitionists lost no time exploiting the deaths of
agents to advance an agenda that in no way relates to the
situation in Waco. Despite their false claims, none of the
nation's 20,000 gun laws or even radical measures such as total
prohibition or mass confiscation would prevent such tragedies,"
he said. "Until the facts are established by the courts and the
Congress, speculation can lead only to misguided public policy."
"One central question that the court and Congress should pose is
why less aggressive forms of warrant service were rejected," said
Richard Gardiner, NRA-ILA Legislative Counsel. "The inquiry
should also examine tactical control. Did the raid's commander
properly assess the developing tactical situation and act
appropriately? To what degree was that decision-making process
influenced by political officials in Washington?" he asked.
"What individuals in the Executive Branch knew there were
innocent children present? Who approved a raid knowing they were
Gardiner said that legitimate, lawful gun owners are fearful that
tactics such as those employed in Waco might be wrongly directed
at them. And with some reason: on December 16, 1991, Gardiner
related, ATF agents and local law enforcement broke into the home
of Tulsa, Oklahoma, resident John Lawmaster. They cordoned off
the street, took station with weapons drawn in the back yard,
used a battering ram to break through the front door, broke into
his gun safe, loaded his empty magazines, left guns and ammo on
the floor, then left. On his return, Lawmaster found his home a
shambles. A note amid the rubble said, "Nothing Found. ATF."
"Because agents left his doors broken, his house accessible and
his firearms and ammunition unsecured, Lawmaster feared tragedy
might have followed had a child entered that house," Gardiner
"At the request of the government, the court sealed the affidavit
that led to the search warrant and the break-in," said Gardiner.
The district court denied Lawmaster's request for release of the
affidavit. Lawmaster has appealed and awaits a decision from the
U.S. Court of Appeals. The Lawmaster case is being supported by
the NRA Firearms Civil Rights Legal Defense Fund.
"Like Waco, the review of the Lawmaster case may be germane to
evaluating ATF policy nationwide. Such a review is extremely
important considering the lack of media scrutiny of cases like
Mr. Lawmaster's. The national media appear to hold the belief
that if a law-abiding American purchases a firearm he forfeits
his civil rights."
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