Thursday, September 9, 2010

The NRA takes credit for gun-rights litigation successes

I plan to attend the Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC) in San Francisco this month. I was looking forward to hearing NRA leaders speak at the Conference. Unfortunately I understand that the NRA will not be represented. I think I know why.

• The bulk of the work that lead to the successful Heller and McDonald decisions was done by Alan Gura and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF). Indeed, the NRA actually opposed the Heller case!
• In spite of the fact that the SAF (the sponsor of the GRPC) is doing the heavy lifting in litigation to advance gun rights, the NRA has brazenly stepped in to take credit for every success in the gun-rights struggle. The Chris Cox column in the September issues of the NRA magazines, in the October issue of Guns & Ammo (wherein absolutely no reference was made to the SAF) is one of many examples of this theft of credit.

I therefore can understand the reluctance of the NRA leadership to face the music at the GRPC.

The entire NRA leadership owes an apology to the SAF, to every member of the NRA, and to every gun owner in the nation for not giving due credit to the SAF and other gun-rights activists. Without that apology, the NRA leadership has no credibility in the legal struggle for gun rights. Without that apology, my donations will go to the SAF -- not to the NRA, NRA-ILA, NRA-PVF, etc.

I am a Patron Life member of the NRA. I ardently support the NRA and urge every gun owner to join the NRA. Without the NRA, our gun rights would have been lost by now. Every gun owner who is not an NRA member is riding in the wagon while the members pull. But the arrogance of the NRA leadership is increasingly making my support awfully hard.

1 comment:

  1. I received the following response from the NRA:

    "Thank you for your message to NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox.  He has asked me to respond on his behalf.

    "NRA's coverage of the McDonald case in its membership magazines focused on NRA's role--both because that's what NRA members are interested in, and because of the critical importance of our role in the outcome of the case.

    "As our articles made clear, two challenges were filed challenging Chicago's handgun ban: the NRA case and the McDonald case.  The cases were closely intertwined, as they were assigned to the same trial judge and then consolidated on appeal in the Seventh Circuit.  Even when the Supreme Court agreed to hear the McDonald case, it made NRA a party to the case as a "respondent in support of petitioner" because the outcome of the McDonald case would also determine the outcome of ours.

    "From the very beginning of the litigation, it was clear that the main difference between the cases was not in the goal but in the emphasis.  Alan Gura and the other attorneys for Mr. McDonald focused on asking the courts to apply the Second Amendment to the states through the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  They were supported in that argument by various groups whose primary interest, unlike ours, is not the preservation of the Second Amendment.

    "The Privileges or Immunities argument is historically sound, and NRA also offered it in our own brief as an option for the Supreme Court to consider.  At the same time, we recognized that it was very unlikely to succeed because a Supreme Court decision in the 1870s had essentially made the clause meaningless in American law.

    "Relying unsuccessfully on that argument would have been a disaster for gun owners.  Instead, we focused on asking the Court to apply the Second Amendment to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment--the avenue by which nearly every other provision of the Bill of Rights has been applied.

    "To make sure the Due Process issue was fully argued to the Supreme Court, we retained former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, who asked for time at oral argument to address the Due Process issue.  The Court granted our request, over Mr. Gura's objections.

    "At the oral argument, our concerns turned out to be very well justified.  The very first question to Mr. Gura was from Chief Justice John Roberts, who pointed out that the Privileges or Immunities argument was "a heavy burden."  Moments later, Justice Antonin Scalia noted that the Privileges or Immunities argument is "the darling of the professoriate, for sure, but it's also contrary to 140 years of our jurisprudence" and asked Mr. Gura if he was "bucking for a ... place on some law school faculty."  (The oral argument transcript is available online at, with these exchanges occurring on pages 4-7.)

    "In the end, the Court decided the case favorably, but based its decision on the Due Process Clause argument NRA had emphasized.  We believe that without our involvement, the case might very well have come out differently.  Therefore, we believe it was quite fair to describe the case as a victory for NRA.

    "I hope this reply is helpful in understanding our point of view on the case and its coverage.  Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.  Regardless of any differences on this issue, we greatly appreciate your support of the Second Amendment.

    John Frazer
    NRA-ILA Research and Information Division"