June 18, 2010
The NRA's Deal with the DevilBy Mark J. Fitzgibbons
Disappointment does not come from opponents; it comes from friends.
Earlier this week, the NRA issued a statement when it was becoming known that Democrats had cut a deal exempting the NRA from coverage under the DISCLOSE Act, which is the Nancy Pelosi-Chuck Schumer response to the Citizens United First Amendment decision by the Supreme Court that targets free speech.
The NRA's initial statement of justification reflected the logical inconsistency of the NRA's position, to wit:
That initial justification ignored the fact that NRA members, first and foremost, are citizens before they are NRA members. As citizens, they will be hurt by the DISCLOSE Act because it will reduce speech, press, and association rights.
The DISCLOSE Act will weaken the ability of citizens to rid the country of bad, corrupt politicians. The bill will help protect the unconstitutional power-grab by the Barack Obama administration and law-breaking by the government. Additionally, the NRA has no guarantee that a future Congress won't renege on its current deal.
By exempting the NRA so that it would not oppose the legislation, congressional Democrats knew darn well that they would still be abridging the First Amendment rights of all NRA members -- as in, every last one of them. The exemption for the NRA may protect the entity called the NRA, but it nevertheless harms the First Amendment rights of NRA members.
Secondly, all NRA members are associated in one way or another with commercial and nonprofit entities that will be hurt by the DISCLOSE Act. The NRA has, of course, no legal obligation to protect the rights of other entities.
There are, however, entities that have fought to protect rights from which NRA has benefited. Suffice it to say, there might not even be an NRA but for the entities that exist because of free markets, or organizations that fight for the other nine rights in the Bill of Rights, not to mention the fact that the very existence of other Second Amendment organizations benefits the NRA, even if indirectly, because they add more force, energy, and ideas to the cause.
The NRA apparently forgets what Ben Franklin said, which is that we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
Therefore, the NRA's initial statement of justification -- that its first obligation must be to its members -- failed on its face.
Following harsh criticisms in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post (by NRA board member Cleta Mitchell), National Review, and just about every constitutional conservative who hasn't been in a coma this past week, the NRA issued another statement on June 17. It only added insult to injury.
The second NRA statement comes out swinging at its friends, saying "critics of our position have misstated or misunderstood the facts." Not so. Congressional Democrats and the NRA are doing what is categorically unacceptable, which is playing crony politics with the Bill of Rights and our freedoms.
The statement went on to argue that the NRA hadn't "sold out," as many of its friends and members charged. It reads:
Sorry, but that is doublespeak. It's the equivalent of saying, "Our reason for selling out now is that we tried to sell out on campaign finance legislation before, but Congress reneged on its deal with us."
The part of the statement that should throw everyone into a fit, however, is this:
So-called? That's a despicable phrase for an organization claiming to support the Bill of Rights and a Bill of Rights defender. We expect the First Amendment to be called "so-called" by congressional Democrats, crusty old Washington left-wingers, and the liberal faux good government groups composed of '60s retreads such as the League of Women Voters.
American is at a moment in time when people are fed up by the type of deal the NRA just cut. The NRA's friends told it that it was on the wrong side of this issue and on the wrong side of this American moment. The NRA, however, spurned its friends, its members, and ultimately, freedom.
Update: Nancy Pelosi has pulled the vote on the DISCLOSE bill. John Bresnahan of Politico writes: