Sunday, June 20, 2010


...and we're a bit shocked at the news this week.

The Wall Street Journal published four articles about the NRA's support of a Democrat initiative to restore restrictions on political speech by corporations. Some background:

You may recall in January the Supreme Court restored the political speech of corporations in their Citizens United v. FEC case. Remember our Dear Leader scolding the justices at the State of the Union speech?

The lefties, imagining what Ford, BP, Wells Fargo and other corporations may say before this coming election, want to restrict corporate speech with more unconstitutional legislations - now called the DISCLOSE act.

But not all lefties agree, so to sweeten the deal to attract conservative lefties (aka socialists?) exceptions have been made for organizations that 1) have existed for over ten years, 2) have over 1 mm members, and 3) get less than 15% of their funds from corporations. Or, the NRA.

The NRA accepted this offer, which now provides cover for at-risk libs in conservative districts. This exception allows the NRA to conceal their donors. In other words, the NRA acted in their own interests. Or so they say.

The exception was expanded late last week to attract more votes. The latest version is down to 500k members. So now the Sierra Club qualifies, but the NAACP still does not.

The Democrats are still having trouble getting the necessary votes and are aiming for a final vote this week.

Here are some select quotes to add to the context. We then share our measured, temperate and thoughtful comments below.

Guns and Free Speech:

This backroom deal came at the behest of Democrats from conservative states, for whom the NRA's scorecard of their legislative record can be a major boost or obstacle to election. Creating a special exception for the NRA, and thereby assuring the Democrats "good grades" on Second Amendment rights, eases the way for the bill to be passed. A failing grade on First Amendment rights is somebody else's problem.

By erecting what amounts to a grandfather clause of First Amendment rights, the bill creates a sort of interest-group incumbency, concentrating the power to speak freely among a handful of large and longstanding groups.

The NRA's Political Sellout, by Kimberly Strassel:

The National Rifle Association slipped into a Beltway backroom this week to cut a deal with Democrats on their new campaign-finance legislation. Conservatives are ripping the gun-rights group for selling out free speech, and fair enough. But don't underestimate the political sellout. The NRA has potentially armed unions and Democrats for the midterm elections.
The gun group was bitter (and rightly so) that it would have to out its own donors. And its pressure on those Blue Dogs that it helps in elections was making it hard for Democrats to round up the votes. The result was this week's special deal, which was tailored to exempt the NRA from key disclosure burdens.
As for the bill itself, even some Democrats have admitted it is likely unconstitutional. But the goal here isn't lasting legislation. The goal is to have this in place for this midterm election, when Democrats are at a low point, and when an empowered union base and a silenced corporate presence could make the difference between keeping the House and losing it. If the Supreme Court strikes it down after that, so be it. Cynicism at its finest.

The NRA's worst nightmare is that the courts strike down its blatant carveout and leave other parts of the bill intact. The group would then get to live under the same restrictions it helped impose on the rest of the country. Until then, the organization can wake up each morning knowing it handed a bazooka to the unions that exist to elect Democrats who oppose everything it believes in. Some deal.

NRA Under Fire for Campaign-Finance Move, by Naftali Bendavid:

Democrats, viewing the NRA's opposition as an obstacle to the bill's passage, agreed that certain large groups of long standing—the NRA prominent among them—would be exempt. Now the NRA is no longer fighting the measure.

"There are 100,000…organizations who as a result of that negotiation have just been tossed overboard and silenced," said Bruce Josten, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He suggested the NRA's slogan should be "Guns for all, speech for few."

Political Backfire:

The reason Democrats are having such trouble is because they are trying to limit the speech of some parties, especially businesses, in order to advance their own partisan ends. But the First Amendment wasn't written to allow tiers of political speech, with some speakers more protected than others.

The NRA exemption was an attempt to blunt the gun lobby's opposition so Blue Dog Democrats would vote for the bill. But that exemption—which is now the NRA, Sierra Club, et al., exemption—has drawn more scrutiny to the bill and has merely underscored its fundamental political cynicism.

Ah, politics. Buy some votes at one of the spectrum and you lose votes at the other. Where is all that unity we saw with the Government Health Care bill??

So our take? First, the NRA has grown fat, dumb and happy during the nation's recent gun-revival. It is in this false sense of superiority that they took the call from Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressman Chris Van Hollen. There was a time when that call would not have been answered. Just ask the CEO of one of the banks that refused the bailout money yet was forced to take it. The Democrat Party has shown their stripes - they are conniving, dishonest, communist-inspired bed-wetters bent on the total transformation of our society and economy. 'All for the greater good', they'll tell you.

Second - as has been said (and we forgot who), 'the Second Amendment makes the First Amendment possible'. It has always been thought that enemies of liberty will go after the 2nd Amendment to get to the 1st. But it was also thought that tax & spend liberals would tax first, then spend. Or in a natural disaster, like an oil spill perhaps... liberals in leadership positions would respond first, then pursue financial restitution and point fingers.

The NRA might have some good reasons for their actions, but they failed their members who value ALL the Amendments.

It is the only lobbying group whose members don't think of themselves as victims.

The only lobbying group whose members value the entire Constitution.

We are reminded of a gun manufacturer who bent to the Clinton Administration when the Administration threatened to pursue the industry as they had the tobacco industry. The other companies held firm, weathered enormous pressure, and eventually prevailed. Those companies get our business. Smith and Wesson does not, nor ever will.

Mike Huckabee makes the timeless connection between the First and Second Amendments. From January 2008 on the campaign trail:

Link to picture source.

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