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NRA: No Free Speech For You!

By Greg L | 16 June 2010 | National Politics, US Congress | 29 Comments

Utterly shocking behavior from the NRA, and a complete sell-out of it’s membership.  From VCDL comes this incredibly disturbing alert:

The NRA is fully prepared to sell out grassroots gun organizations across the nation, including VCDL, to the anti-gun Democratic leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives by not fighting a bill that will gag the free speech of those who criticize members of Congress.

The NRA, in a news release included below (Ed note: see here), has said it will turn a blind eye to H.R. 5175, the DISCLOSE Act, since it exempts the NRA.
Bottom line: the NRA has been bought off.

Here is the criteria in the bill for an exemption:

* More than 1 million members
* Has been in existence for more than 10 years
* Has members in all 50 states
* Raises 15 percent or less of their income from corporations

It appears the ONLY gun organization to meet that set of criteria would be the NRA - not GOA or SAF or CCRKBA, much less VCDL.

VCDL rarely criticizes another gun organization, but on this issue we cannot, and must not, hold our tongues.

Let me not mince words - this appears to be an unholy alliance between Nancy Pelosi and the NRA, which would wipe out the NRA’s competition.

If you snuggle up with a rattlesnake you are going to get bit. The NRA is playing a fool’s game if they think they will survive this unscathed. Nancy Pelosi is not their friend now, nor will she ever be.

For their own self-interest, the NRA is apparently choosing to drive, or at least ride in, the bus that is going to run over the rest of us.

The NRA must NOT turn a blind eye to this scheme and MUST fight it to the bitter end. Either all gun-rights organizations are protected or none are protected. We hang together or we will surely hang separately.

The irony of the NRA’s position is that if they anger enough gun owners, they could fall below the magic one million member mark and then they would lose their exemption and end up being crushed under the same bus that they threw us under.

ACTION ITEM:

1. Call the NRA at (800) 392-8683 and demand that they ACTIVELY OPPOSE HR 5175, S 3295, or any other bill that politically silences the voices of gun owners!

2. Contact your Congressperson and tell them to vote against HR 5175 (thanks to GOA for the prewritten message/delivery system):

The Wall Street Journal commented on this, and it’s thoroughly enraging:

Under the NRA carve-out in the House bill, the new rules won’t apply to any organizations that have been around for more than 10 years, have more than a million members and receive less than 15% of their funding from corporate donors. That fits the NRA nicely, though as best we can figure, everyone else, from the Sierra Club to Planned Parenthood, fails to qualify. So much for defending the little guy against the fat cats.

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. Established organizations like the NRA provide important representation for their members, but their lobbying cause is specific and limited.

I wish I could say this surprises me.  It’s another demonstration of why I have not joined the NRA, as their actions frequently demonstrate they’re more interested in political power than in principle, and we’ve got enough of those types out there already.



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29 Comments

  1. Jeff Hunter said on 17 Jun 2010 at 9:54 am:
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    Will certainly have to re-think my membership should this pass without the NRA reversing their decision not to fight this.

  2. Citizen12 said on 17 Jun 2010 at 10:13 am:
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    Calling the NRA just get’s you a canned excuse for their actions. Just like congress and the health care bill, your input to our actions is not needed or wanted.

    NRA seems to have forgotten - United we stand, divided we fall-

    Their brokerage of this special deal and their agreement to remain silent in opposing this legislation, regardless of the reasoning, is nothing more than a sellout. What is next, an agreement to turn over their membership list in exchange for a permit for its next convention?

    This agreement will not stop this legislation from steamrolling over our rights in the future.

    The effective date of this legislation is within 30 days of its acceptance. Enough time to shut down the opinion of millions of Americans before the upcoming elections in November.

    Gee, they made us endure over 10 months of continued pillage from the credit card industry before their half hearted attempt at reform kicked in. One would guess that these time tables revolve around cash incentives and job security.

  3. Ronald said on 17 Jun 2010 at 10:25 am:
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    From what I read it looks like the only organization that this exemption would apply to is the NRA. Nothing else would fit the requirements.

  4. Anonymous said on 17 Jun 2010 at 10:46 am:
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    Divide and conquer. If this passes, they WILL come back for the NRA. How dumb can they be?

  5. Ihop said on 17 Jun 2010 at 11:44 am:
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    Ronald,
    The Washington (Com)Post article I read this morning says the
    exemption also applies to other organizations such as the AARP.
    I have never disagreed with anything the VCDL has done but
    they do have a tendency to favor the Gun Owners of America.

  6. VA_Magoo said on 17 Jun 2010 at 11:46 am:
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    Just one more of the “As long as it doesnt infringe on my rights” its ok.

    So unless your one of the “Big Boys” we can forbid your free speech.

    Lets keep the peasants quite shall we……..

  7. Jon Wong said on 17 Jun 2010 at 12:44 pm:
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    Vgdl go pissa pie shop…..scare customer. They go chinese shop no scare waiter.

  8. Anonymous said on 17 Jun 2010 at 12:56 pm:
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    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 (http://www.nraila.org/Legislation/Federal/Read.aspx?id=5888).

    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.

    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. And that we do without apology.

  9. Jeff Hunter said on 17 Jun 2010 at 4:06 pm:
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    I e-mailed the NRA and got the same canned response that Anonymous did. Their entire argument can be boiled down to the one paragraph that reads:

    “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.”

    I don’t know what it sounds like to whoever wrote it but it sure sounds like a sell out to me. If the restrictions are so draconian then why are they fighting this for all Americans?

    I think I can find better uses for $35/year.

  10. anon said on 17 Jun 2010 at 6:41 pm:
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    Guess if the NRA had less than 1 million members their exemption wouldn’t apply. Hmmm…. something to think about doing.

    Of course, some organizations offer FREE memberships - that might be a way around the rules.

    But overall, pathetic. And it’s blatantly obvious that the NRA has NO concern for America or the US Constitution. Their ONLY concern is gun laws. How very un-American.

  11. Ihop said on 18 Jun 2010 at 10:00 am:
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    From today’s Washington (Com)Post

    Disclose Act in jeopardy after interst groups balk at NRA deal.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/17/AR2010061705859.html?hpid=topnews

  12. local gop said on 18 Jun 2010 at 10:21 am:
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    on one hand we have seen how underhanded corporate funding of political media wrongly influences elections, not only now but in the past. congress is attempting to correct this egregious assault on the american electorate by passing disclosure laws to make any chance of hiding behind a ghost entity impossible.

    then we see the far right wing demean disclosure for being an attack of freedom of speech. really? are they saying ‘you can’t make ads’? No. they are saying if you make an ad, you will fully disclose financial backers.

    but, because the congress is controlled by Dems its a bad bill.

    that being said, the NRA should not be exempt.

    nothing to do with freedom of speech as the supreme court has ruled in the past that elections laws and campaigning are not merely free speech issues.

  13. Charles said on 18 Jun 2010 at 11:54 am:
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    A gross misreading of what the NRA did.

    They never said they would support the law, and they still oppose the law.

    What they said was that, if the law did not impact them directly, they wouldn’t spend millions of dollars of their member’s money to attack the law.

    Which is a perfectly sane position to take. If the law doesn’t effect the NRA, and the law is not about the 2nd amendment, why should the NRA spend gun owner’s money fighting the law?

    I don’t expect the NRA to spend millions of dollars fighting against Cap and Trade either — even though it is a horrible bill, it’s not about gun rights.

    BTW, because of the NRA opposition, it looks like the bill is dead — once the deal was made to exempt the NRA, a lot of supporters of the original bill have now turned against the bill.

    So it could be that the NRA threats have in fact stopped this bill, and they deserve credit, not criticism.

  14. Ihop said on 18 Jun 2010 at 4:31 pm:
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    Just received this via E-mail from Gun Owners of America:

    Congratulations: We are Winning… for Now!

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

    “Gun Owners of America has been one of the key players in opposing the DISCLOSE Act.” — Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA)

    Friday, June 18, 2010

    Thank you all for your hard work. The DISCLOSE Act is on the ropes!

    Here’s what The Washington Post reported this morning:

    One of President Obama’s top legislative priorities is in serious doubt after top House Democrats’ attempt to satisfy the National Rifle Association backfired badly.

    The Post says that “top Democrats abandoned plans for a Friday vote in the House” on the DISCLOSE Act after several Representatives and organizations “rose up against the deal with the NRA.”

    Interestingly, the Post also reported that the intended beneficiaries of the deal — that is, the Blue Dog Democrats who were expected to drop their opposition to the DISCLOSE Act once the NRA dropped theirs — were still “spooked” by public resistance to the bill.

    You can pat yourselves on the back knowing that you were a huge part of the outpouring of opposition that was generated this week. You played a big role in “spooking” the politicians who are going to be soliciting your votes in November.

    You should know that the sponsors of the bill are still looking for ways to resuscitate the legislation, so GOA will continue to keep you abreast of further developments.

    But for now, enjoy the victory and have a great weekend!

  15. Citizen12 said on 18 Jun 2010 at 7:29 pm:
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    local gop said on 18 Jun 2010 at 10:21 am: Flag comment
    are they saying ‘you can’t make ads’? No. they are saying if you make an ad, you will fully disclose financial backers.

    ****************************************************************

    What they are saying is….every time there is political speech we will have the name of every person who speaks out against us in our data base, every time.

    We will know every group and every member of that group who speaks out against us, in our data base, every time.

    The validity of you position is not at issue but the fact you have the audacity to speak out from outside the circle and not support a position via an approved political affiliation i.e. democrat or republican spokesperson.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    Charles said on 18 Jun 2010 at 11:54 am:
    A gross misreading of what the NRA did.
    ****************************************************************

    On the contrary, an exact reading of what the NRA did. Democrats know they would be seriously handicapped if the NRA put its standard opposition to this bill so they took them out of the fight, trading the restructured cut out to fit their organization in exchange for their agreement not to openly oppose it.

    This bought an out for certain democrat members to support this without losing the favor of the NRA on the second amendment issue, increasing the bills chance to pass.

  16. Jeff Hunter said on 18 Jun 2010 at 10:57 pm:
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    Charles,

    You put an interesting spin on the NRA’s move . . . but as a dues paying member I would still have wanted them to fight this instead of cutting a deal for themselves.

    They made a business decision, like you said, to not spend political and financial capital to to fight legislation, for which they received an exemption.

    “BTW, because of the NRA opposition, it looks like the bill is dead — once the deal was made to exempt the NRA, a lot of supporters of the original bill have now turned against the bill.

    So it could be that the NRA threats have in fact stopped this bill, and they deserve credit, not criticism.”

    Perhaps, but I find it hard to believe that the NRA had the forsight to see this outcome resulting from their actions.

  17. screwthenra said on 19 Jun 2010 at 10:00 am:
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    What does the NRA have to do with military firearms training? Anyone who has shot around leo’s in competition knows the level of their competence - its pretty sad - so maybe the police would be better off having Martha Stewart chime in on training instead.

  18. Citizen12 said on 19 Jun 2010 at 4:57 pm:
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    screwthenra said on 19 Jun 2010 at 10:00 am
    What does the NRA have to do with military firearms training?

    ****************************************************************
    Who do you think is responsible for the army learning how to shoot? That’s right, the NRA. It began soon after the civil war with civilian marksmanship programs, but it still took quite some time to actually get the idea through to top military command that their people really do need to know how to shoot.

  19. Disgusted said on 20 Jun 2010 at 8:07 am:
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    Anonymous said, “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. And that we do without apology.”

    Politics pure and simple. The first rule of the NRA is to protect the NRA. The second rule is never violate the first rule. Why are you surprised?

  20. screwthenra said on 20 Jun 2010 at 11:57 am:
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    Who do you think is responsible for the army learning how to shoot? That’s right, the NRA. It began soon after the civil war with civilian marksmanship programs

    Right. Tell that to the boys from Tennessee and Virginia and Michigan and California.

    Tell that to Sgt York.

    As a former Marine, I find your response laughable.

    Are you going to tell us that the NRA teaches the Marines to shoot?

    The NRA has outlived its usefulness. Read American Rifleman magazine from the 30s and 40s and 50s - then read the metrosexual drivel that is printed today.

    Americans don’t need some greasy, slimy empty suits bribing politicians with members money. If they will take your money to vote with you - they will take a little more to vote against you.

    Americans need to stand up for what is right. All it will take is each of us to just say no. It may be a little issue - it may be a big issue. But the pols have to be given the message to back off.

    And that message is not going to be sent with bribes.

  21. Ihop said on 20 Jun 2010 at 12:30 pm:
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    screwthenra,
    You sound just like Sarah Brady. Are you on the VPC payroll?
    You obviously have a chip on your shoulder and haven’t read
    The American Rifleman. Typical.

  22. local gop said on 20 Jun 2010 at 12:40 pm:
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    citizen,
    you are grossly exaggerating the requirements of the bill.

  23. Senator Scott Brown (RINO) said on 20 Jun 2010 at 2:06 pm:
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    This is just a continuation of the Chicago thug mentality emanating from the WH. If you can’t steam roll someone, just buy them off. Unfortunately the NRA has fallen victim. They should have immediately called a press conference and blasted the corrupt dems for trying to bribe them. Had they done so, all the prior comments of disappointment would have been accolades. You fight corruption head on with all your might, not by whimpering in a corner and then making lame excuses.

  24. screwthenra said on 20 Jun 2010 at 2:16 pm:
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    Ihop, you are an idiot. i am a former Marine, a competitive shooter, and owner and user of more firearms than you can imagine.

    I am not on anyone’s payroll or bribe list.

    It is interesting how an opposing view to your own is instantly attacked.

    Sort of Saul Alinsky tactics, no?

    Whose payroll are you on?

  25. Ihop said on 20 Jun 2010 at 2:50 pm:
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    screwthenra,
    Where do you think you are? The Huffington Post? I’m an Army
    vet and was warming up to audition for USAEUR rifle/pistol competitions when I received orders for Vietnam. I’m not on
    anyone’s “payroll” as I am retired. As far as you referring to
    me as an idiot, it shows a lack of intelligence so I will refer you
    to your Soros funded HuffyPoo.

  26. Ihop said on 20 Jun 2010 at 3:23 pm:
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    Okay, I won’t feed the trolls anymore and clutter up this good
    forum. Just noticed the Front Sight ad at the top and it
    sure would be nice to attend. Ignatius Piazza was trained
    by Col Jeff Cooper. Now there’s a Marine for ya.

  27. Citizen12 said on 20 Jun 2010 at 8:25 pm:
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    screwthenra said on 20 Jun 2010 at 11:57 am
    As a former Marine, I find your response laughable

    ****************************************************************

    If you read my post again you will find it was not based on current practices but the history of military markmanship and its relationship to the NRA, over 100 years ago. It said nothing about the NRA currently teaching the Marine Corps, or any current branch of military service.

    It may be laughable, but……

    Click here for the details.

    The Untold Story Of How The NRA Saved The American Expeditionary Force.
    http://www.defensivecarry.com/vbulletin/defensive-rifles-shotgun-discussion/3834-riflemen-no-man-s-land.html

  28. Glen Caroline said on 23 Jun 2010 at 10:13 am:
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    Many of you know me as the immediate past Chairman of the Loudoun County Republican Committee. Many of you also know that I have been an NRA employee for 19 years. Unfortunately there has been much mis-information and/or misunderstanding surrounding NRA’s opposition to this legislation. I would instruct all who want to hear from the horse’s mouth to visit www.NRAILA.org, and read the numerous statements from NRA officers, as well as re-reading our May 26 letter to Congress noting our concerns and objections.

    Keep in mind that as of this writing the legislation has not been amended.

    Glen Caroline
    Immediate Past Chair, LCRC
    Dir., NRA-ILA Grassroots Div.

  29. Citizen12 said on 27 Jun 2010 at 5:20 pm:
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    Glen Caroline said on 23 Jun 2010 at 10:13 am:

    The link should be www.NRA-ILA.org

    the following statement runs pretty standard in all the letters posted at www.nra-ila.org .

    “We told Congress we opposed the bill. Consequently, congressional leaders announced they would exempt us from its draconian restrictions on political speech. If that happens, we will not be involved in final consideration of this bill in the House. If it doesn’t, we will strongly oppose the bill.”

    Many of us understood this from the beginning. Accepting the deal in the best interest of its members took the NRA out of the fight. Great. If they can live with that justification so be it. It’s their sand box.

    However, many of us see it for what it is.

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