As long as it’s not OUR ox being gored…

…then by all means, go right ahead:

The new agreement would exempt from the disclosure requirements organizations that have mare than 1 million members, have been in existence for more than 10 years, have members in all 50 states, and raise 15 percent or less of their funds from corporations. The NRA, with 4 million members, would fall into the exempted category and will not oppose the DISCLOSE Act now, according to Democratic sources.

Best case: the NRA is prostituting its principles in order to eke out an exemption specifically targeted at them.

Worst case:  the NRA sees this as a prime opportunity to damage its competition:  smaller pro-gun organizations like the SAF, that have been very successful from a litigation standpoint lately (in spite of the NRA’s best efforts to stymie them, and/or steal the credit after the fact), and tend to drain away potential members who feel that the NRA is too willing to compromise away our rights.

Either way, it doesn’t speak well to the NRA’s honor and commitment.  It is incidents like these that have caused me to swear off ever donating another cent to the organization and make me wonder whether I want to continue to be represented (I have a life membership) by such a group.

Not much chance of being able to convince enough people, but perhaps we should start trying to drive the NRA’s membership numbers below 1 million so as to exempt them from the exemption, so to speak.

Hat tip to Redstate via VCDL Executive Member Grapeshot.

Update:  The NRA announces its position:

The National Rifle Association believes that any restrictions on the political speech of Americans are unconstitutional.

On June 14, 2010, Democratic leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives pledged that H.R. 5175 would be amended to exempt groups like the NRA, that meet certain criteria, from its onerous restrictions on political speech. As a result, and as long as that remains the case, the NRA will not be involved in final consideration of the House bill.

So, in other words, we don’t believe this is constitutional, but we’re going to stay silent on the issue as long as we are specifically exempted from it.

Looks like the scenario identified as “best case” is (at least publicly) the NRA’s reasoning behind their lack of opposition to this admittedly unconstitutional bill.

The Second Amendment is purportedly the one that protects all the others…unless, of course, we just don’t bother.  Heck, if we opposed this bill and it passed anyway, it might serve to damage our image as the most powerful lobby in DC.  Better to use our influence to get ourselves exempted from it and pretend like that’s some sort of principled stance or something.

Sigh.

Update 2: Countertop seems to think this was some sort of ingenious plot to get the bill killed outright.  That the outrage generated on the left by the exemption eked out by the NRA is putting attention on the issue that it otherwise would not have garnered.

Perhaps he’s right.  I was not raised to value deviousness and I simply don’t think that way most of the time.  I realize that’s what politics IS, but my brain often just doesn’t work that way. 

And I’m not convinced that that was the NRA’s goal to begin with.  What would it hurt for the NRA to say so if that was its aim?  Something along the lines of “We oppose this bill on principle;  Although we are glad that our membership will be protected by the amendment exempting our organization from its provisions, we hope that this amendment will bring to light the glaring flaws of the bill and assist in its defeat…” or something to that effect? 

I don’t know.  I freely admit that I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer…maybe there are more aspects to this that I’m just not seeing.  I guess I’ll just have to take a “wait and see” attitude.

Another thing that Countertop mentioned is an aspect that I’d noticed but didn’t completely grasp the significance of:

The amendment exempting the NRA specifically states that the organizations exempted can receive no more than 15% of their income from corporations.

The anti-gunners have consistently claimed that the NRA is nothing more than a shill group for the firearms industry, that the NRA profits from high gun sales and that is why they oppose “common sense restrictions”.  This amendment and the fact that it would effectively exempt the NRA from the bill’s provisions proves beyond a doubt, the lie in that contention.

10 thoughts on “As long as it’s not OUR ox being gored…

  1. Except SAF can't participate in the activities that this act covers. They are a 501(c)3. That would be illegal. I'm not sure how this is an attack on SAF if it applies to activities which SAF can't legally participate in due to their own incorporation choices. SAF donors will still have their privacy shielded just like they always have before this bill that regulates campaign finance – not charitable donations.

  2. Actually, it does. SAF cannot participate in these political activities. You're mixing apples and oranges when it comes to organizations and what they are allowed under law to do. If you want a good conspiracy theory to float, then you at least have to find a (c)4 so it could work out legally.

  3. You do understand the concept of "an example" right?

    I could edit the post to completely remove any reference to SAF and the point would still be valid.

    You also understand the concept of "best case/worst case" right? I wasn't positing any "conspiracy theory", just laying out my take on what the best and worst possible motives the NRA MAY have had for this move.

    For the sake of argument, lets assume that the "worst case" possibility is completely off the table. That there is no possible way that the NRA did this as a calculated move to protect themselves while still leaving their competitors (who should really be allies were this truly about the principles involved) hanging in the breeze. We've ruled out that possibility altogether so the entire reference to the SAF is now moot.

    As far as I'm concerned, that only leaves the "best case" scenario…and I quote: "the NRA is prostituting its principles in order to eke out an exemption specifically targeted at them."

    I don't know about you, but that isn't exactly a glowing recommendation for the group and is plenty condemning enough for me to question whether I want them representing me or not.

    Basically, you're not refuting anything, just making yourself look silly with your knee-jerk support for the NRA no matter what they do.

    I hate to break it to you, but every human being and every human organization is capable of being wrong or making a mistake on occasion. I realize that you find it pathologically impossible to admit this when it comes to your love affair with the NRA, but you're just embarrassing yourself at this point in my humble opinion.

  4. How does the dems action, scared of NRA clout so that they write NRA an exemption, mean the NRA is sacrificing 2A principles? The NRA doesn't write the legislation, legislators do (or they at least control it). Democrat triangulating to get their best advantage and neutralize the NRA as a threat to them by appeasement is nothing new.

    So the NRA had objections and those objections were addressed. Would you have the NRA reject the remedy because it doesn't help ALL gun groups? (or, as others have wanted, ALL pro constitution groups, or all conservative groups, or all GOP related groups.)

  5. You bring up a valid point TBolt, however I would submit that 2A advocacy is a group effort…it's about the principle of the thing, not the actual groups doing the advocating…as such, the NRA's eagerness to carve out an exception only for themselves does strike me as something damaging to the overall cause and demonstrates, on its face, a willingness to sacrifice principles in the name of self-interest…something I consider dishonorable.

    And, although you're right that the NRA doesn't get to write the legislation, the fact that they have announced they will drop their opposition to the bill after this change indicates clearly that they had a significant influence on that change.

    Basically what they are saying is that they oppose this measure because it is an infringement…unless it specifically doesn't apply to them. As long as it only applies to the other guy, it's a perfectly acceptable action.

    I must admit that Sayuncle brought up an aspect of it that I hadn't fully considered: that, in making the exception so narrow, it doesn't apply to the anti-gun groups either…making them subject to the new rules, while the NRA is exempted.

    This could be a pragmatic plus and could have figured into the NRA's decision. But I remain convinced that if it is the principle that is at issue, rather than simple self-interest, it is dishonorable to suborn your principles because doing so will harm your opponents.

    "He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates his duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."
    –Thomas Paine

    And, again, I return to the question: Do I really want to be represented by a group that is willing to compromise their principles in such an apparently dishonorable way?

  6. I'm not being nitpicky. The errors I'm point out in your logic based on your understanding of the legislation are big enough to drive a truck through if you're going to oppose this bill. The intern who takes your complaint will be polite if you call your lawmaker, but if you demonstrate that you don't even know what the bill does, then your complaint will fall upon deaf ears. You should understand what you're talking about if you want to seriously oppose this legislation.

    The funny thing about this is that if the Democrats wanted to go after SAF's donors, the NRA would actually get involved in that fight to make sure they are all protected. Because NRA also has several (c)3 operations to look out for that would fall along a similar profile as SAF. So picking the example you did is just really unfair to them based on the actual structure of the organizations. I have no problem with criticizing them (I do it all the time, believe me, they get annoyed as shit with me – especially when I'm right), but just make sure you have the facts and are picking the right battles.

    I'm not defending this bill at all. I've been working to dismantle the federal campaign finance structure since I was in junior high. I hate this kind of crap, but I can also look at the political structure right now and realize that NRA is not at all to blame for this. You can try to pin it on them, but they haven't done anything other than make sure their members don't get screwed in the very messy sausage-making process.

    NRA isn't supporting this bill. They have simply had their member concerns removed from it for purposes of their work to support the Second Amendment. You may argue that you're a member and because they won't take up your personal position on a bill that is no longer related to their organization, you don't feel represented. In that case, you need to be clear that you expect them to fight battles you personally approve even when it does not impact the other 4 million+ members. That would is the intellectually honest thing to say in this case.

  7. Whether it impacts the other 4 million+ members or not is a matter of perspective as far as I'm concerned.

    It may not directly affect them, but, as I said before, it affects the gun rights community as a whole…which is made up of a whole heck of a lot more than 4 million people.

    I think I have been completely intellectually honest with my position. You disagree with me.

    Duly noted.

  8. If this becomes law with the exemption, it could wind up in the courts in front of an unfriendly group of judges. The argument being that it should apply to the NRA under the equal protection clause and they will end up screwed. Making a deal with the devil so to speak.

    But it could go the other way as well and the law being tossed out as unconstitutional. It's a chance.

    Backroom deals are what lobbyists do and according to Politico, they made a deal with the Dems for their exemption. But I would liken this to making an agreement with the local mugger so that they stay away from you and get the old lady down the street instead. But eventually, the criminals will turn their sights against you.

    And I will make the comparision that Congress is the criminal class. Yes, the NRA is looking out for its own, but I think they are being myopic about this. (If true, of course)

  9. Curt,

    I think Sebastian put it best in one of his posts when he pointed out that the NRA is a Second Amendment focused organization. They only got involved with this initially because it would have been disastrous to their ability to fight for gun rights. Once it was changed, they had no vested reason to fight against it anymore.

    Honestly, the NRA wouldn't have even had to branch out of gun safety into the political world if the ACLU actually stood up for the entire Bill of Rights. I also find it interesting that I can't find any evidence that the ACLU actually cares about this at all.

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