- Created: Wednesday, 16 June 2010
- Written by Craig Fields
The ability of American citizens to communicate with their elected officials is one of the most important rights that help preserve our freedoms. In fact, of all the forms of speech protected by the First Amendment, political speech is at the top of the list.
This is exactly what the Supreme Court said earlier this year, in Citizens United v. FEC, when it ruled unconstitutional huge portions of the McCain-Feingold law, otherwise known as the Incumbent Protection Act.
Now, in an effort to undo the victory at the Supreme Court, liberals in Congress are attempting to pass the so-called DISCLOSE Act, which would severely limit the ability of GOA to communicate to our members and the general public.
This unconstitutional bill could come to the floor of the House as early as Thursday.
Sadly, as we reported yesterday, some in the pro-gun community have abandoned the principle of protecting the free speech rights of all Americans, so long as their ox is not being gored in this instance.
The NRA, which had previously opposed the DISCLOSE Act, has now accepted a deal to exempt that organization from the bill.
This is a startling about-face by the association.
When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of political speech in Citizens United, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre praised the decision, saying, "This ruling is a victory for anyone who believes that the First Amendment applies to each and every one of us.... This is a defeat for arrogant elitists who wanted to carve out free speech as a privilege for themselves and deny it to the rest of us." (Emphasis added.)
That's a far cry from the NRA statement to Congress this week regarding legislation specifically designed to undo that Supreme Court decision.
"On June 14, 2010, Democratic leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives pledged that H.R. 5175 [DISCLOSE Act] would be amended to exempt groups like the NRA, that meet certain criteria, from its onerous restrictions on political speech," reads the statement.
"As a result, and as long as that remains the case, the NRA will not be involved in final consideration of the House bill."
Apparently it's ok to "carve out" a little free speech if you're in the role of the "elitists."
But the misguided NRA exemption will leave millions and millions of gun owners and sportsmen belonging to dozens of different organizations out in the cold.
We cannot allow this to happen. An attack on our First Amendment rights is a direct assault on our Second Amendment rights. After all, if GOA can't alert you about legislation affecting your Second Amendment rights, then we cannot protect those rights.
Of course, that's precisely what the politicians in Washington want. Shut out the voices of the "commoners" like gun owners and Tea Party activists who are coming to -- in the words of Senate candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky -- "take our government back!"
There's a reason the Bill of Rights is considered as an entire unit, and an attack on one part of the Constitution poses a threat to the whole document.
In short, if GOA loses this battle, all political organizations -- of any size -- will ultimately lose.
ACTION: Please ask your congressman to vote against the anti-gun DISCLOSE Act. This bill could come to the floor of the House as early as Thursday, June 17, 2010. Here's what you can do:
1. Urge your congressman to oppose HR 5175. You can use the Gun Owners Legislative Action Center to send a pre-written message to your Representative.
2. Urge the NRA to change its position and stand with Gun Owners of America. You know that GOA is the organization that consistently refuses to compromise on principle. Even still, GOA has fought alongside the NRA many times to fight unconstitutional legislation, and it is imperative that we fight side-by-side on this issue as well. It has often been said that, "We either hang together or we will hang alone." But impress upon the NRA management that being the last one hung doesn't make the situation any better. You can call the NRA at (800) 392-VOTE (8683).
----- Pre-written letter -----
Please oppose the DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 5175).
The manner in which this bill is moving forward is as despicable as the health care bill -- with backroom deals and special favors being doled out in order to ram this down the throats of the American people.
This bill is a threat to the privacy of individuals and, by gagging the voices of groups like Gun Owners of America, it is silencing my voice as well.
My ability to protect my Second Amendment rights relies on the First Amendment's right to freely and openly communicate with government officials, who at one time were called "public servants."
I agree with GOA that this bill is an unconstitutional sham that will have a chilling effect upon my free speech.
Please vote NO on HR 5175.