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Stars promote NRA blacklist


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LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Most blacklists are designed to intimidate. But thousands of Americans are clamoring to join one drawn up by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Actor Dustin Hoffman was so dismayed to find his name missing from the NRA's shadowy 19-page list of U.S. companies, celebrities, and news organizations seen as lending support to anti-gun policies that he wrote to the powerful pro-gun lobby group begging to be included.

"As a supporter of comprehensive gun safety measures, I was deeply disappointed when I discovered my name was not on the list," Hoffman wrote in a letter to the NRA that was released Tuesday.

"I was particularly surprised by the omission given my opposition to the loophole that makes it legal for 18- to 20-year-olds to buy handguns at gun shows," he added.

Hoffman's name has now been added to the list which reads like a Who's Who of American business, culture and religion and which ranges from the American Jewish Congress to A&M Records, ABC News and talk show queen Oprah Winfrey.

An NRA spokesman could not be reached for comment.

The list was found deep in the official NRA Web site by a group of grass-roots anti-gun campaigners and publicized by them two weeks ago to garner support for two pieces of gun control legislation going through Congress.

The campaigners set up their own Web site at www.NRAblacklist.com and urged Americans to voluntarily put their names there. A full-page ad on Tuesday in Daily Variety -- the Hollywood trade magazine -- urged movie and music artists to sign up.

"What the site tries to do is turn it into a badge of honor to get on the blacklist by saying 'Hey Julia Roberts is on the blacklist. Why don't you join it?.' It's been incredibly successful. Since we have launched, 25,000 people have signed on to ask to be put on the blacklist," said Wendy Katz, spokesperson for the group.

The NRA initially denied compiling a blacklist as such, saying it was merely responding to members wanting to know which individuals and corporations opposed the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment on the right to bear arms.

But National Rifle Association Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre said of the list last week; "Our members don't want to buy their songs, don't want to go to their movies, don't want to support their careers."

Katz said the campaigners hoped to expose the NRA's influence in Washington, D.C., spur opposition to a bill that would grant immunity in civil cases for gun manufacturers and dealers, and gather support for renewal of a 1994 ban on the sale of military assault weapons.



Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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