‘DISCLOSE Act’ maelstrom leads Speaker Pelosi to stall vote on bill: Redouble your efforts to kill HR 5175.
Responding to the maelstrom it created by selling out gun rights supporters on the misnamed “DISCLOSE Act,” the NRA is now sending forth a propaganda brigade of NRA board members and other apologists to convince you that you just don’t understand.
Given the NRA’s probable bleed of hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of dollars in cancelled memberships, statements issued by NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox to the effect that it doesn’t “support” HR 5175 are not surprising.
But unfortunately, his is a game of semantics: Nobody has accused the NRA of supporting attempts to muzzle gun groups during elections. What Politico, The Washington Post and others are reporting is that the NRA is removing opposition to the bill. And the fact is that the NRA is the big gorilla of lobbying; if it removes its opposition, passage of a law to muzzle other pro-gun and conservative organizations is all but assured. They have neatly thrown you under the bus.
Then we have the indignant (if somewhat addled) statement from NRA First Vice President David Keene which adds little to the debate:
“I can assure you that I would never countenance a ‘deal’ of the sort you think the NRA made with Congress to further Democratic attempts to restrict political speech. I consider such restrictions to be not only repugnant, but blatantly unconstitutional, an opinion shared by NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and Institute for Legislative Action Executive Director Chris Cox.”
Meanwhile, NRA board members on various gun rights forums are running a propaganda campaign that sticks very closely to the official talking points.
FORMER NRA PRESIDENT:
YOU AREN’T BRIGHT ENOUGH TO GET IT
But none can top the rationalization offered by the NRA’s immediate past president John C. Sigler in a statement to the “Fifty Caliber Institute,” of which he is president. Being forwarded to gun lists by at least some NRA board members, it is entitled “Checkers, Chess or Politics a la Mister Spock?EXAMINING NRA’s RESPONSE to DISCLOSE ACT” and covers the usual NRA semantics about not “supporting” HR 5175.
To Sigler’s credit, he accurately relays the many free speech perils of the DISCLOSE Act – albeit expressing them as hazards to the NRA, when in reality they are hazards to all political organizations. But the crux of Sigler’s rationalization seems to be that this is an “ three dimensional chess” game that you just couldn’t be expected to understand:
“Before you criticize NRA for understanding that this isn’t your grandpa’s checker game or even your college dean’s chess game, you need to thank them for treating this as an extremely complex exercise more akin to Mister Spock’s three dimensional chess. A chess game [sic] demanding a very sophisticated and highly intellectual approach to the very serious problem at hand.”
That would be a “sophisticated and highly intellectual approach” utterly beyond your capabilities, of course.
WHY SIGLER’S RATIONALIZATION DOESN’T CUT IT
The “you don’t have the big picture” argument has been a staple of NRA responses to its membership for many years. Recognize it for what it is: A weapon to shut you up.
The crux of the “three dimensional chess” argument is that the NRA is executing a “poison pill” amendment to kill the bill, as it presumably did in adding language to the DC Voting Rights Act which would have gutted the District of Columbia’s draconian gun laws.
But this is not a similarly “no risk” strategy: Only idiots would have failed to anticipate the response of pro-gun conservatives to the NRA carve-out from HR 5175. LaPierre and Cox aren’t stupid enough to fail to recognize the damage it would cause the NRA.
PREVIOUS NRA SELLOUTS
Nor do NRA leaders want you to remember their long history of compromising their principles. Chief among them was S. 1805, the first incarnation of the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.”
Introduced in 2003, S. 1805 was intended to stop cities and counties from suing gun makers out of business. First, a consent agreement by Senator (and NRA Board member) Larry Craig enabled debate of a slate of gun control amendments to the bill, including a Boxer amendment for gun locks, a Kennedy amendment for “cop killer” bullets, and a McCain-Reed amendment for gun show restrictions.
Yet even as a variety of anti-gun amendments were hung on the bill, the NRA continued its support. Only under withering fire from a large coalition of state and national organizations – a situation very much like today – did NRA LaPierre finally withdraw support from the bill.
State activists report many such ideological compromises. In North Carolina, NRA lobbyist Nicole Palya allowed an entire gun show bill to be appended onto the NRA’s own gun litigation bill, SB 680,touting the bill to members while carefully neglecting to mention it would shut down most gun shows in the state. (For full details, see my Charlotte Observer column, “Strange Bedfellows and Guns.”
Why the NRA would accept gun control and mislead its members in order to pass laws prohibiting gun suits already being thrown out of court I will leave to your imagination, noting only the NRA’s 2003 “William B. Ruger Endowment,” and Ruger’s rather significant contributions to the NRA National Firearms Museum…
WHY IS THE NRA DOING IT?
“Chris Cox and his staff have but one loyalty and that is to protect and defend the rights of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms, and to position NRA so as to be an effective advocate for firearms freedom in America.”
Alas, not all would agree. My good friend and former NRA-ILA Executive Director Neal Knox – who made the NRA the political juggernaut it is today – told me many times about NRA consultantsAckerman-McQueen and the Mercury Group, about how he feared they and Wayne LaPierre would bankrupt the organization.
When the NRA starting going awry, Neal spent many years trying to reform it. For his trouble, NRA leadership ran a campaign – including “don’t vote for” ads in NRA magazines – to remove him from the board of directors.
What Neal identified is that unlike most organizations, where boards of directors command corporate officers, at the NRA it is the corporate officers who command the board, making the NRA a large organization run, paradoxically, for the benefit of a small number of employees. As a perfect example, Fox News today reported that NRA board members were only minimally informed of the organization’s deal-making on HR 5175.
Before he died, I often told Neal he was wasting his time trying to reform the NRA – that his efforts would be better spent forming a new group to replace it. Unfortunately, LaPierre, Cox & Co. seem bent on proving me right.
KEEP THE PRESSURE ON
In postponing the vote, Democrats and the NRA just blinked. Keep the pressure on. Rather than calling general membership numbers, here are some numbers that go directly to NRA officers. Let them know how you feel about having the world’s biggest gun rights organization betray the interests not only of its members, but of gun owners everywhere. North Carolina residents should also call the politician who brokered the deal, Congressman Heath Shuler, at
Congressman Heath Shuler: 202- 225-6401. If possible, call on Monday, June 21 between the hours of 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM – but if you miss that time, call regardless.
Ronald L. Schmeits, NRA President:
Home: 18 Private Rd #2001ST, Raton NM 87740, (575) 445-5836, (575) 445-2080 fax
Office: International Bank,200 S 2nd Street, Raton NM 87740-3908, (575) 445-2321
Charles L. Cunningham, Director, NRA-ILA Federal Affairs:
4864 Oakcrest Drive, Fairfax VA 22030
David A. Keene, NRA 1st Vice President:
5602 Dawes Ave, Alexandria VA 22311-1102, 703-671-5602
James W. Porter II, NRA 2nd Vice President:
215 21st St N # 1000, Birmingham AL 35203-3710, (205) 322-1744, Fax: 205.322.1750