Truth Before Dishonor

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Archive for June, 2010

First Amendment, Second Amendment, NRA, And Poison Pill

Posted by John Hitchcock on 2010/06/19


Most people who are politically engaged know of the liberals’ defeats in SCOTUS rulings regarding the first and second amendments to the US Constitution. A great many politically engaged people also know about the liberals’ attempts at skirting SCOTUS’ ruling regarding the First Amendment, HR 5175. And quite a few politically engaged people also know about NRA’s involvement in getting a carve-out in HR 5175, the anti-first amendment bill currently active in Congress. A lot of people feel NRA sold out. And until recently, I was one of them. But I have since changed my mind.

Let me be clear here. HR 5175 is most definitely anti-first amendment. HR 5175 must die a painful and permanent death (but as long as liberals and progressives have any sway, it or various replacements won’t). But NRA is a Second Amendment protagonist. And therein lies the issue.

From the legal beagles at NRA:

We appreciate the concerns some NRA members have raised about our position on H.R. 5175, the “DISCLOSE Act.” Unfortunately, the mainstream media and other critics of NRA’s role in this process have misstated or misunderstood the facts. We’d like to set the record straight.

We have never said we would support any version of this bill. To the contrary, we clearly stated NRA’s strong opposition to the DISCLOSE Act (as introduced) in a letter sent to Members of Congress on May 26 (click here to read the letter).

Through the courts and in Congress, the NRA has consistently and strongly opposed any effort to restrict the rights of our four million members to speak and have their voices heard on behalf of gun owners nationwide. The initial version of H.R. 5175 would effectively have put a gag order on the NRA during elections and threatened our members’ right to privacy and freedom of association, by forcing us to turn our donor lists over to the federal government. We would also have been forced to list our top donors on all election-related television, radio and Internet ads and mailings—even mailings to our own members. We refuse to let this Congress impose those unconstitutional restrictions on our Association

Due to copyright rules, I will not post any more of the article (and probably already posted too much of it), but I strongly suggest reading the rest of it.

The NRA is laser-focused on the Second Amendment as it should be, since it is a gun-owner’s organization after all. While opposing the original bill and stating it will not necessarily support any version of the bill, NRA lobbied to get an exemption for itself put into the bill to protect its First Amendment rights to fight for the Second Amendment. Quite frankly, NRA should never have been put into this position, but liberals and progressives, in their frenzied attempts to kill both the first and the second amendments, forced NRA’s hand.

Note to liberals and progressives: never force your opponent to play the winning hand. “Pay to see” is bad poker when all you have is a ten-high. NRA used its lobbying power, based on a huge electorate base, to insert language in the anti-first bill that would exempt NRA from the anti-first bill. And that has turned out to be a huge poison pill for the anti-constitution crowd (liberals and progressives).

This is what can make the poison pill so effective this time around. Those who value the Constitution above the three branches of federal government oppose HR 5175 while those who hold the Constitution to be below the three branches of federal government support HR 5175. It is still possible NRA will not support this bill, even with its own carve-out. But at least NRA got a carve-out to continue its mission, unhindered by the anti-first Democrats.

And the bill itself is in danger of sinking due to NRA’s carve-out. Many people have said NRA’s carve-out would put the bill over the top, allowing RINOs to cover their electorial posteriors while voting for the measure. But it appears the reverse may be true. Too many Democrats, who were in favor of the anti-constitutional bill without the NRA carve-out, may vote against the bill due to that very carve-out. So, the combination of legislators who oppose killing the Constitution and legislators who hate NRA’s carve-out could produce a less tenuous result for those who love the Constitution.

And Democrat sponsors and co-sponsors of HR 5175 could well vote against the very bill they sponsored, due to that single amendment protecting NRA from it. This is a point liberals and progressives don’t want to see broadcast, because it will harm some of their other dishonorable declarations. “You Republicans sponsored the bill and then voted against it. You’re nothing but a bunch of hypocrites.” That very argument depends on people not actually knowing the facts. If a poison pill amendment is added to a bill, even the sponsors (and authors) of the original bill can vote against the final bill for reasons of principle.

Posted in Conservative, Constitution, politics, truth | 4 Comments »

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