Catching Hell: The National Rifle Association

The National Rifle Association has been catching some serious hell as of late. While that is nothing new? Where the incoming fire is coming from is. It has been from people such as myself, a Life Member, and others that make up this organization.

Don’t get me wrong. The NRA has done a lot for gun owners over the years. Most training and safety involving firearms has roots in the NRA, and that surely is a good thing. However, politically the NRA has for many years taken the easy route. Deal cutting may be the way that things are done in the beltway, but on the range there are no excuses for acting in an irresponsible manner.

Simply put, the NRA has been a pig with lipstick that fly’s for quite some time, and the membership is more than a bit fed up with that. What follows is a follow up from Gun Owners of America, and then my “personal” response about my complaint from NRA / ILA. I will leave it to my readership to read the tea leaves as it were…

Threat to Free Speech Lights a Fire in the Grassroots

– Vote has been temporarily postponed; keep up the heat!

Gun Owners of America E-Mail Alert
8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151
Phone: 703-321-8585 / FAX: 703-321-8408
www.gunowners.org

“[T]he NRA — on whose board of directors I serve — rather than holding steadfastly to its historic principles of defending the Constitution and continuing its noble fight against government regulation of political speech instead opted for a political deal borne of self-interest in exchange for ‘neutrality’ from the legislation’s requirements.”

– NRA Director Cleta Mitchell, June 17, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The above quote — part of an editorial authored by NRA Director Cleta Mitchell — ran in The Washington Post today.

Like Mitchell, bloggers and editorial writers around the country have lit up the Internet with the story that we have been alerting you to over the past 48 hours. Here are just some of the headlines:

* “The NRA sells out to Democrats on the First Amendment,” The Wall Street Journal

* “Conservatives take on the NRA over deal on disclosure bill,” The Washington Post

* “The National Rifle Association’s Excuse Holds No Water,” RedState.org

The conservative movement (and to be honest, many liberal organizations as well) are coming together to loudly protest the DISCLOSE Act — legislation that threatens to gag our ability to effectively hold individual congressmen accountable in the days and weeks leading up to an election.

It is imperative that we continue hammering the Congress. But rather than cry “uncle,” liberal Democrats are now trying to buy off more groups with an exemption for those that have at least 500,000 members (rather than the higher threshold of one million, which would have applied to few groups other than the NRA).

Of course, how is the government going to know how many members an organization has? According to the legislation, each organization will have to certify to a government commission how many members they have. But what if the commission wants documentation; will the organization have to “disclose” the names of their members?

GOA, of course, will never do this. Furthermore, you should know that your Gun Owners of America can NOT be bought off. We will continue opposing this bill on principle, urging all gun groups to stick together in this fight. As we stated yesterday, we realize that: “We must all hang together, or we will all hang separately.”

GOA applauds NRA Director Cleta Mitchell for the courageous stand she took today. (You can read her editorial here.) We hope that the NRA leadership will heed her wisdom and take a stand against this bill. If they don’t, we wouldn’t be surprised if NRA members start demanding a change in their leadership. After all, the NRA has engaged in many good fights over the years, and it would be a shame to lose this VERY IMPORTANT battle because high-ranking staff led the NRA down the wrong path.

ACTION:

1. Please call your congressman today and urge him or her to oppose HR 5175. We’ve asked you to send emails before, but now on the eve before the vote, it is crucial that the phones ring off the hook. If they’re not ringing, they won’t be worried.

You can use the Talking Points below to call your Representative toll-free at 1-877-762-8762.

2. If you haven’t yet urged the NRA staff to change its position on HR 5175 and stand with Gun Owners of America, please do so. NRA Director Cleta Mitchell was absolutely correct, and the NRA leadership should heed her wisdom. You can call the NRA at (800) 392-VOTE (8683).

3. Please help Gun Owners of America to continue fighting for your rights. You can go to http://gunowners.org/contribute-to-goa.htm to help us alert as many people as possible to the DISCLOSE Act threat.

—– Talking Points for contacting your Representative —–

1. I stand with Gun Owners of America in opposing the DISCLOSE Act (HR 5175).

2. The Bill of Rights is clear in saying that Congress has no authority to pass legislation like this. Just like the Second Amendment says our gun rights “shall not be infringed,” the First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.”

3. The Supreme Court was right earlier this year in the Citizens United case. Sen. John McCain — the author of the Campaign Finance Reform law (otherwise known as the Incumbent Protection Act) — was wrong. Americans, and the groups they choose to associate with, should be able to criticize Congress in the days and weeks leading up to an election WITHOUT BEING GAGGED OR FORCED TO JUMP THROUGH HOOPS that are mandated by Congress.

This is the baffle them with bull pucky response that I recieved from the NRA;

We appreciate some NRA members’ concerns about our position on H.R. 5175, the “DISCLOSE Act.”  Unfortunately, critics of our position have misstated or misunderstood the facts. 

We have never said we would support any version of this bill.  To the contrary, we clearly stated NRA’s strong opposition to the DISCLOSE Act (as introduced) in a letter sent to Members of Congress on May 26. 

Through the courts and in Congress, the NRA has consistently and strongly opposed any effort to restrict the rights of our four million members to speak and have their voices heard on behalf of gun owners nationwide.  The initial version of H.R. 5175 would effectively have put a gag order on the NRA during elections and threatened our members’ freedom of association, by forcing us to turn our donor lists over to the federal government.  We would also have been forced to list our top donors on all election-related television, radio and Internet ads and mailings—even mailings to our own members.  We refuse to let this Congress impose those unconstitutional restrictions on our Association.

The NRA provides critical firearms training for our Armed Forces and law enforcement throughout the country.  This bill would force us to choose between training our men and women in uniform and exercising our right to free political speech. We refuse to let this Congress force us to make that choice.

Is it worth us having to live with this bill’s draconian restrictions just to protect the First Amendment rights of other groups?  We don’t think so.  We didn’t “sell out” to Nancy Pelosi or anyone else.  We told Congress we opposed the bill.  As a result, congressional leaders made a commitment to exempt us from its draconian restrictions on free speech.  If that commitment is honored, we will not be involved in the final House debate.  If that commitment is not fully honored, we will strongly oppose the bill.

Our position is based on principle and experience.  During consideration of the previous campaign finance legislation passed in 2002, congressional leadership repeatedly refused to exempt the NRA from its provisions, promising that our concerns would be fixed somewhere down the line.  That didn't happen; instead, the NRA had to live under those restrictions for seven years and spend millions of dollars on compliance costs and on legal fees to challenge the law.  We will not go down that road again when we have an opportunity to protect our ability to speak.

There are those who say the NRA has a greater duty to principle than to gun rights.  It’s easy to say we should put the Second Amendment at risk over some so-called First Amendment principle – unless you have a sworn duty to protect the Second Amendment above all else, as we do.

 The NRA is a bipartisan, single-issue organization made up of millions of individual members dedicated to the protection of the Second Amendment.  We do not represent the interests of other organizations.  That's their responsibility.  Our responsibility is to protect and defend the interests of our members.  

Best regards,
NRA-ILA Grassroots Division
_________________
Lipstick on a pig...

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2 Responses to “Catching Hell: The National Rifle Association”

  1. Patrick Sperry Says:

    And yes, I do believe that the NRA sends responses in a format that blows the page apart in order to suppress the posting of their actual responses…

  2. Patrick Sperry Says:

    Related:

    Free Speech Gag Bill Moving in House
    — Please contact your Reps again

    Gun Owners of America E-Mail Alert
    8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151
    Phone: 703-321-8585 / FAX: 703-321-8408

    http://www.gunowners.org

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    The ability of American citizens to communicate with their elected officials is one of the most important rights that help preserve our freedoms. In fact, of all the forms of speech protected by the First Amendment, political speech is at the top of the list.

    This is exactly what the Supreme Court said earlier this year, in Citizens United v. FEC, when it ruled unconstitutional huge portions of the McCain-Feingold law, otherwise known as the Incumbent Protection Act.

    Now, in an effort to undo the victory at the Supreme Court, liberals in Congress are attempting to pass the so-called DISCLOSE Act, which would severely limit the ability of GOA to communicate to our members and the general public.

    This unconstitutional bill could come to the floor of the House as early as Thursday.

    Sadly, as we reported yesterday, some in the pro-gun community have abandoned the principle of protecting the free speech rights of all Americans, so long as their ox is not being gored in this instance.

    The NRA, which had previously opposed the DISCLOSE Act, has now accepted a deal to exempt that organization from the bill.

    This is a startling about-face by the association.

    When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of political speech in Citizens United, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre praised the decision, saying, “This ruling is a victory for anyone who believes that the First Amendment applies to each and every one of us…. This is a defeat for arrogant elitists who wanted to carve out free speech as a privilege for themselves and deny it to the rest of us.” (Emphasis added.)

    That’s a far cry from the NRA statement to Congress this week regarding legislation specifically designed to undo that Supreme Court decision.

    “On June 14, 2010, Democratic leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives pledged that H.R. 5175 [DISCLOSE Act] would be amended to exempt groups like the NRA, that meet certain criteria, from its onerous restrictions on political speech,” reads the statement.

    “As a result, and as long as that remains the case, the NRA will not be involved in final consideration of the House bill.”

    Apparently it’s ok to “carve out” a little free speech if you’re in the role of the “elitists.”

    But the misguided NRA exemption will leave millions and millions of gun owners and sportsmen belonging to dozens of different organizations out in the cold.

    We cannot allow this to happen. An attack on our First Amendment rights is a direct assault on our Second Amendment rights. After all, if GOA can’t alert you about legislation affecting your Second Amendment rights, then we cannot protect those rights.

    Of course, that’s precisely what the politicians in Washington want. Shut out the voices of the “commoners” like gun owners and Tea Party activists who are coming to — in the words of Senate candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky — “take our government back!”

    There’s a reason the Bill of Rights is considered as an entire unit, and an attack on one part of the Constitution poses a threat to the whole document.

    In short, if GOA loses this battle, all political organizations — of any size — will ultimately lose.

    ACTION: Please ask your congressman to vote against the anti-gun DISCLOSE Act. This bill could come to the floor of the House as early as Thursday, June 17, 2010. Here’s what you can do:

    1. Urge your congressman to oppose HR 5175. You can use the Gun Owners Legislative Action Center at http://www.gunowners.org/activism.htm to send a pre-written message to your Representative.

    2. Urge the NRA to change its position and stand with Gun Owners of America. You know that GOA is the organization that consistently refuses to compromise on principle. Even still, GOA has fought alongside the NRA many times to fight unconstitutional legislation, and it is imperative that we fight side-by-side on this issue as well. It has often been said that, “We either hang together or we will hang alone.” But impress upon the NRA management that being the last one hung doesn’t make the situation any better. You can call the NRA at (800) 392-VOTE (8683).

    —– Pre-written letter —–

    Dear Representative:

    Please oppose the DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 5175).

    The manner in which this bill is moving forward is as despicable as the health care bill — with backroom deals and special favors being doled out in order to ram this down the throats of the American people.

    This bill is a threat to the privacy of individuals and, by gagging the voices of groups like Gun Owners of America, it is silencing my voice as well.

    My ability to protect my Second Amendment rights relies on the First Amendment’s right to freely and openly communicate with government officials, who at one time were called “public servants.”

    I agree with GOA that this bill is an unconstitutional sham that will have a chilling effect upon my free speech.

    Please vote NO on HR 5175.

    Sincerely,

    Celebrate Independence Day on July 4 at Yellowstone National Park. On that day, law-abiding citizens will be openly carrying their handguns, rifles or shotguns at the boardwalk around Old Faithful.

    The start time is High Noon on July 4, 2010. This is an informal, non-sponsored and no-host celebration of Independence Day on July 4. Each and every person is totally (100%) responsible for themselves including transportation, food, drink, lodging, etc.

    The weather can be cold and rainy, even snowy, in Yellowstone National Park on the 4th of July — so plan accordingly. Wyoming state laws and National Park Service Rules apply at Old Faithful. If you have any questions, please contact your personal attorney, the Attorney General of Wyoming, or the Yellowstone National Park Service.

    Point of Contact: Tim Ravndal, PO Box 287, Townsend, Montana 59644, 406-266-5212 or 406-439-5860, thornyacre@dishmail.net

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