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Carry into law. I would also like to recognize the support of Representative Jim Aslanides (R-94), the sponsor of the legislation, Speaker Larry Householder (R-91), Senate President Doug White (R-14), and all who voted for this important self-defense right. As always, the grassroots activism of thousands of NRA members was fundamental in achieving victory."
Nearly two-thirds of Americans live in Right-to-Carry states. Despite ominous predictions by gun-ban groups, statistics show that states with Right-to-Carry laws have significantly less violent crime. According to the FBI, on average, Right-to-Carry states have a 24% lower violent crime rate than states without the self-protection law. In 2003, Right-to-Carry laws were enacted in New Mexico, Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri.

In the December 5, 2003, edition of the Grassroots Alert, we reported on the case of NRA member Alan Newsom, a seventh grade student in Virginia's Albemarle County Public School system.  A lawsuit filed by the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund on behalf of Newsom charged that the student's First Amendment rights were violated when his school banned him from wearing an NRA Youth Sports Shooting Camp T-shirt that he had received after attending an NRA-sponsored firearm safety camp.
On December 1, 2003, a unanimous decision by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals  reversed a previous opinion by the U.S. District Court, and barred the Albemarle County school district from enforcing the dress code, which prohibits its students from wearing clothing portraying images of firearms.  The Fourth Circuit found the Albemarle school dress

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code to be overly broad and likely unconstitutional under the First Amendment's protection of freedom of expression.  It applied Supreme Court precedent in the landmark decision of Tinker v. Des Moines School District holding that "the dress code can be understood as reaching lawful, non-violent, and non-threatening symbols of not only popular, but important organizations and ideals."
To punctuate its findings, the Appeals Court noted that the code, as written, would prohibit clothing displaying the Virginia state seal, the musket-toting mascot of one of the counties own high schools, images showing support for our military troops abroad, and the crossed-sabers logo of the University of Virginia.  The court stated, "Banning support for or affiliation with the myriad of organizations and institutions that include weapons (displayed in a nonviolent and non-threatening manner) in their insignia can hardly be deemed reasonably related to the maintenance of a safe or distraction-free school." The court concluded by stating "it is evident that the . . . Dress Code disfavors weapons, displayed in any manner and in any context, and potentially any messages about weapons.  It excludes a broad range and scope of symbols, images, and political messages that are entirely legitimate and even laudatory."
Trying to regroup and recover from this defeat, the school system subsequently filed a petition for an en banc rehearing of the case before the Fourth Circuit.  On January 6, that petition was denied, sustaining the Fourth Circuit's ruling that a Preliminary Injunction is warranted in the case.
This ruling bars the school district from enforcing its dress code as it relates to "non-violent, non-threatening and lawful images and messages related to weapons" pending a full trial on the merits.

Benton Gun Club
P. O. Box 139
Benton, AR 72018-0139

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