Since coming to Washington, DC during the Nixon Administration, I have been a staunch advocate of the Second Amendment, seeing most every hazard imaginable to the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Sometimes the threats are direct and easy identifiable. Often the threats are part of a chess game forcing us to see three or four steps ahead of the curve. For the second year in a row, in an effort to placate a major Republican donor, a group of members of Congress have submitted legislation that would trample state rights and threaten the Internet and ultimately, threaten the rights of gun owners.
For over a decade, anti-gunners have attempted to outlaw certain pro-gun websites on the Internet. Sen. Chuck Schumer (R-NY) and others attacked the Internet as the “wild west” and demanded websites like Gunbroker.com be outlawed, despite the fact they meet every requirement of federal law relating to firearms sales. The latest iteration of the Internet gun ban was included in the recent anti-gun Manchin-Toomey scheme. Efforts by Las Vegas gambling king Sheldon Adelson to prevent states from legalizing online gaming could easily open the door to the further government restrictions on the Internet, including Schumer’s efforts to outlaw websites he disdains.
Mr. Adelson is in a panic over states legalizing online gambling, thinking it will financially damage his brick and mortar casinos. He is funding a multi-million dollar campaign to have Congress overturn the decisions of at least three states making online gambling legal. In short, Adelson is seeking to trample on the Tenth Amendment to regulate the Internet to outlaw his potential competition.
Rather than laugh him out of their congressional offices, a handful of GOP members, led by [mc_name name=’Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001076′ ] (R-UT) and [mc_name name=’Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’G000359′ ] (R-SC), are carrying the Vegas casino kingpins’ water. Their legislation, which Chaffetz reintroduced last week and Graham intends to drop shortly, creates a dangerous precedent for both Internet freedom and the Constitution.
During a recent pen and pad meeting with reporters, Mr. Chaffetz denounced online gambling as a “danger” and said he would involve his committee in the issue. But the legislation he is pushing on behalf of the billionaire only bans legal and regulated online gambling sites by the states. It leaves the dark sites housed in servers in Antiqua, Costa Rica and other corners of the globe alone. Ironically, he condemned the Internet as the “wild west” — the same language the anti-gunners use to condemn Internet pro-gun websites.
The success of the gun movement in recent years is not coincidently connected to the rise of the “wired citizen.” We no longer have to rely on three major news networks for information. National pro-gun groups communicate with millions of people in a moments notice to get them the truth. Not surprisingly, there is a growing movement afoot to have the government regulate the Internet. The president wants to turn the Internet into a public utility, Democrats on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) are threatening to regulate blogs and now, through the Chaffetz-Graham bill, Congress wants to cherry pick and choose what sites can be accessed and outlawed.
Dan Schneider, the Executive Director of American Conservative Union recently noted, “Conservatives don’t have to agree on the value of gambling, but we should agree that it is unwise to use the brute force of the federal government to try to stop states from making their own decisions on this activity, especially if the reason for this action is to support gambling entrepreneurs in Las Vegas. Unfortunately for them, what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas; it should be up to the states to determine if they want to reject or accept Vegas.”
Our message to Congress is simple — hands off the Internet and don’t trample the Constitution for a political donor seeking to outlaw his competition. You are playing a dangerous game that threatens ultimately will threaten the rights of gun owners.