Friday, June 18, 2010

Free Speech and the NRA

Campaign finance laws are written by and for politicians already in office. They make incumbent politicians and the media more powerful, and the citizen less powerful. These laws make it virtually impossible to fire and replace our so-called representatives. They even cripple the ability of citizens to join together with others to fund political advertising campaigns. In spite of these unconstitutional restrictions, campaign finance laws leave media companies free to raise and spend as much money they want to influence public opinion. (They call it "news.")

The so-called "Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections" (DISCLOSE) Act, is a direct response a First Amendment victory in which the Supreme Court overturned the prohibition on corporations and unions using treasury funds for independent expenditures supporting or opposing political candidates at any time of the year. HR.5175 will limit the political speech that was protected and encouraged by the Citizens United decision.

HR.5175 seems designed specifically snuff out the influence of many organizations through which the people express their political views. A generous exemption in HR.5175 has been carved out for the labor unions and other large advocacy groups (membership greater than 500k). Therefore, the NRA was exempted to buy their support or at least to avoid their opposition.

There is no room in the First Amendment for Congress to make deals on political speech, whether with (or on behalf of) the NRA or anyone else. The current, and long-standing, approach to campaign finance "reform" has been all about preserving and enhancing power. The NRA leadership seems far too willing to indulge in that power at the expense of the overal freedom of its members.

I proudly post my NRA-ILA Vote Freedom First sign in my yard for every election. I view freedom as encompassing all God-given freedoms that are guaranteed by the US Constitution. I expect the leadership of the NRA and NRA-ILA to also Vote Freedom First. Yet, the NRA-ILA rates political candidates on only one of our countless God-given freedoms. The direct consequence of this myopic policy is unconscionable NRA support for politicians who are extremely hostile to other essential freedoms.

Instead of following the motto, Vote Freedom First, the NRA and NRA-ILA seem to have the habit of compromising on legislation affecting my freedoms. The current HR.5175 NRA betrayal/compromise on my First Amendment freedom is one example. I will not tolerate any compromise on any freedom!

If there is to be any campaign finance reform, let it be legislation that bans all PACs (Political Action Committees) controlled by or on behalf of anyone who holds political office except for the specific purpose of funding that politician's own reelection. We need to stop politicians from buying influence through these PACs.

Another rational form of campaign finance reform would be to ban all campaign contributions and electioneering from any entity other than an individual US citizen.

Repeal all campaign finance laws that protect incumbents, cripple challengers, and rob citizens of their political voice! Congress and the NRA must reject HR.5175.

1 comment:

  1. The following is a response from the NRA to the above comments regarding that organization:

    "I received your email regarding the NRA`s position on H.R. 5175, the "DISCLOSE Act". Regrettably, our position has been misstated by some and intentionally misrepresented by others. I hope you`ll allow me to provide the proper context.

    "The U.S. Supreme Court`s Citizens United decision was a significant victory for free speech and the Constitution. The NRA filed a strong brief in that case, which the Court specifically cited several times in its opinion. The DISCLOSE Act is an attempt to reverse that victory and that`s why we told Congress we oppose it.

    "The NRA has never supported--nor would we ever support -- any version of this bill. Those who suggest otherwise are wrong.

    "The restrictions in this bill should not apply to anyone or to any organization. My job is to ensure they don`t apply to the NRA and our members. Without the NRA, the Second Amendment will be lost and I will do everything in my power to prevent that.

    "We believe that any restriction on political speech is repugnant. But some of our critics believe we should put the Second Amendment at risk over a First Amendment principle to protect other organizations. That`s easy to say--unless you have a sworn duty to protect the Second Amendment above all else, as I do.

    "The NRA is a single-issue organization made up of millions of individual members dedicated to protecting the Second Amendment. We do not represent the interests of other organizations. Nor do all groups fight all issues together. For example, we didn`t support the U.S. Chamber of Commerce when it backed amnesty for tens of millions of illegal aliens and we did not join the Chamber in its support of President Obama`s stimulus bill. And we`ve been in direct opposition when the Chamber has tried to restrict Second Amendment rights in publicly accessible parking lots.

    "Rather than focusing on opposing this bill, some have encouraged people to blame the NRA for this Congress`s unconstitutional attack on free speech. That`s a shame. If you oppose this bill, I hope you will contact your Member of Congress and Senators so they can hear from you."