National Rifle Association's First Amendment Sellout

The National Rifle Association just sold out your First Amendment right to participate in the democratic process.  Sources on the Hill tell RedState that House Republican members are “furious” at the National Rifle Association (NRA) for negotiating a special provision exempting the NRA from a new campaign finance reform measure racing through Congress. 


Roll Call describes the campaign finance reform measure as follows:

The bill, officially the DISCLOSE Act, comes in response to the high court’s 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in January that struck down many restrictions on political communications and the groups that fund them.  The proposal would bulk up disclosure, political coordination and disclaimer requirements, and impose new limits on political involvement by government contractors and foreign governments.

Evidently, the NRA has inserted a provision in the bill that would exempt organizations under 501(c)(4) of the IRS code that qualify under certain conditions.  The conditions apply to the NRA and were clearly crafted by the NRA.  This special interest carve out for the NRA has sent Republicans in the House into a rage.  Expect House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to unload all they have against the Democrat and NRA enabled attempt to restrict First Amendment rights of all Americans to participate in the electoral process.
Under the DISCLOSE Act, 501(c)(4) organizations would be limited in political communications, unless they qualify for a special exemption.  If a group satisfies the following conditions (that fit the NRA’s description like a trigger lock on a gun) then they are allowed to participate in First Amendment activity:

  • Established under 501(c)(4) for 10 years;
  • 1 million or more dues-paying members;
  • Members in all 50 states;
  • No more than 15% of funding from corporations or unions; and,
  • Does not use corporate or union money for campaign related expenditures.

A senior staffer on the Hill tells RedState that “the NRA apparently believes that the 2nd Amendment is the only constitutional amendment that matters.  They don’t care about the 1st Amendment.  Their selfish actions will help this bill pass.”  This rage is well founded because the NRA is a hypocrite on the matter.  On Thursday, January 21, 2010, the NRA issued a statement about the Citizens United v Federal Elections Commissionpraising the Supreme Court for “removing unconstitutional restrictions on the NRA’s ability to speak freely at election time.”  The DISCLOSE Act is an attempt by Members of Congress to overturn parts of that Supreme Court holding.  The NRA’s recent actions evidences a will on the part of the NRA to sell out the 1st Amendment right of free speech for all in order to protect a 1st Amendment carve out for themselves. 

For the NRA, a group that is fighting to protect the rights of all Americans to exercise their constitutionally recognized natural right to “keep and bear Arms,” to sell out on another constitutionally recognized right is an outrage.  It also destroys its credibility on Capitol Hill.  Why would the NRA cave on the natural right of people to participate in the electoral process?  It is because it is manned by political insiders and part of the illness plaguing Washington, D.C. elites.

The most recent actions of the NRA are enraging so many principled conservatives.  It is shocking that David Keene, a veteran of the conservative movement and head of the American Conservative Union, would not have put a stop to this madness in the lobbying arm of the NRA.  Wayne LaPierre is Obama-like in his propensity to take actions that are contrary to his public statements.  Wayne LaPierre, NRA Executive Vice President, said about the Citizens United case as recently as January (please put on a BS flack jacket before reading):


This ruling is a victory for anyone who believes that the First Amendment applies to each and every one of us.  The majesty of free speech is that any American can roll out of bed and speak as freely as The New York Times, NBC or politicians.  This is a defeat for arrogant elitists who wanted to carve out free speech as a privilege for themselves and deny it fo the rest of us; and for those who believed that speech had a dollar value and should be treated and regulated like currency, and not a freedom.  Today’s decision reaffirms that the Bill of Rights was written for every American and it will amploify the voices of average citizens who want their voices heard.

Great rhetoric — too bad it is complete BS.  Wayne LaPierre should be ashamed of himself.  You know who else should be ashamed?  Chris Cox, chief lobbyist and principal political strategist for the NRA for coming up with such a terrible strategy to protect the NRA at the expense of the Constitutional right of all Americans not members of the NRA.

Erick Erickson wrote yesterday on RS the reasons why the NRA is selling out the Constitution in the name of self preservation:

This is just the NRA not wanting competition for itself. If they were really committed to freedom, let alone the second amendment, they should be encouraging more freedom loving, second amendment loving organizations to rise and fight. Instead, they are collaborating with the left to shut out competition.

Moe Lane also had an excellent post on RS titled “Deja Vu: the NRA and the Democratic crockodiles.”


Members of the NRA need to understand that an internal Tea Party may be in order to right the ship.  The NRA has shown signs of weakness over the past few years and they seem more interested in protecting their right to participate in the democratic process than the right to “keep and bear Arms.”  Tea Party rage should hit the elites in the conservative movement when they sell out their principles in the name of political expediency.


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