NRA Makes a Deal Against Free Speech

I don’t like the NRA’s strategy of ensuring its own longevity at the risk of other freedoms, which they seem to be forgetting about.

NRO yesterday on the NRA’s involvement:

Politico and others are reporting that the NRA has reached a deal to withdraw its opposition to the bill in exchange for an exemption for the NRA from its disclosure provisions.


This exemption will not apply to small, less powerful 501(c)(4) organizations, which will be hit the hardest by the onerous, burdensome, and expensive disclosure requirements of the DISCLOSE Act, but it will apply to the large, well-funded and well-connected NRA.

So, the NRA may end up providing the lobbying grease that allows this noxious and partisan piece of legislation to slide through the House, something that I seriously doubt most of the individual members of the NRA (who are strong believers in the First Amendment as well as the Second) would agree with.

From Politico:

House Democrats have offered to exempt the National Rifle Association from a sweeping campaign-finance bill, removing a major obstacle in the push to roll back the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

The NRA had objected to some of the strict financial disclosure provisions that Democrats have proposed for corporations and politically active nonprofits and that had kept moderate, pro-gun Democrats from backing the legislation.

But if the NRA signs off on the deal, the bill could come to the House floor as early as this week. The NRA said it would not comment until specific legislative language is revealed.

An NRA official also noted that the group would not be supporting the bill but would not actively oppose it if the deal with the Democratic leadership holds up.

Regulation of free speech means that the speech isn’t free. You can’t cherry-pick which rights you want to support or the depth to which you are willing to support those rights and base it all on the litmus test of your personal ideology, as is the motivation behind the DISCLOSE act. Free speech didn’t begin with the mind of protecting popular, sanitized speech but speech that is diverse and thought-provoking.

The legislation in question is designed to restore more campaign finance rules in the wake of last year’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which removed prohibitions on corporations and unions running TV ads opposing or backing candidates in the run-up to an election.

Democratic leaders fear the Citizens United decision could open the floodgates for corporate money to flow into this year’s midterm elections, which they believe would favor Republican interests.

So instead of working harder to incur favor with the interests they suspect of supporting republicans they’ll further isolate those interests by infringing their free speech, government control as a way to stifle private sector preference for their opposition. That’s how the left levels the playing field: they simply go tell teacher, in this case Uncle Sam, with the hope that government regulation will make up for their own inadequacies. The problem is that everyone then suffers from their inadequacies due to governmental suppression. This sounds more in like with the USSR than a free United States.

Bloggers would also be negatively impacted due to the DISCLOSE act. Reason:

At a House Administration Committee hearing last Tuesday, Patton Boggs attorney William McGinley explained that the sloppy statutory language in the “DISCLOSE Act” would extend the FEC’s control over broadcast communications to all “covered communications,” including the blogosphere.


A section of the DISCLOSE Act would exempt traditional media outlets from coordination regulations, but the exemption does not include bloggers, only “a communication appearing in a news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication…”

Ed Morrissey:

If the Democrats in Congress wanted to ensure that the FEC would not investigate political speech by bloggers, they would have written their exemptions to include bloggers instead of just traditional media outlets. The purposeful lack of exemption for bloggers looks ominous indeed — and could be used to harass smaller, unfunded bloggers out of the realm of political debate.

Regulated speech isn’t free speech and if this is something that the NRA wishes to support then I cannot in good faith support the NRA any longer.

*Editing to add: the NRA fails to realize that all freedoms are worthy of equal protection. Without free speech, who will stand up for the NRA? Are they really so naive to believe that if they give this much now no more will be taken from them in the future? This little deal is tantamount to mafia protection.

**Another: Some are arguing to support the NRA simply because it took a long time to build and is well-established. A system isn’t sacred. A system is only as worthy as the goodness of its action and this isn’t good.