Ashcroft Letter to NRA Reveals Shift in Justice Department Policy, Undermines Enforcement of Gun Laws

For Release: Wednesday, May 23, 2001

VPC Launches New Website,, Detailing Ashcroft’s Pro-Gun, Anti-Enforcement Activities

WASHINGTON, DC U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has sent National Rifle Association (NRA) chief lobbyist James Jay Baker a letter touting Ashcroft’s pro-gun views on the Second Amendment for distribution during the NRA’s annual convention. In his letter, NRA member Ashcroft explicitly described a position on the Second Amendment which is in direct conflict with longstanding legal precedent, historical research, and established U.S. Justice Department policy. This raises serious questions as to whether Ashcroft will follow through on his confirmation-hearing promises to defend federal gun laws from spurious and frivolous pro-gun legal challenges.

The VPC is launching a new website today,, the purpose of which is to be the leading source of ongoing information on Ashcroft, his pro-gun activities and gun lobby ties, as well as his enforcement of current gun laws.

VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “NRA member Ashcroft promised at his confirmation hearing that he would defend our nation’s gun laws. But in his letter to the NRA, the Attorney General espouses a view, on official U.S. Justice Department stationery, wholly inconsistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent and longstanding Justice Department policy. Will John Ashcroft enforce our nation’s gun laws? Not according to this official letter. Attorney General Ashcroft’s pandering missive to the NRA is the first step towards the dismantling of our nation’s gun laws.”



About the Violence Policy Center
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