Incumbent Protection Threatens GOA’s Existence

(Tuesday, March 6, 2001) — Irked by nettlesome groups such as GOA which threaten to expose their anti-gun activities, Arizona Senator John McCain (R) and Wisconsin Democrat Senator Russ Feingold (D) are pushing legislation which would eliminate the ability of groups like GOA to keep gun owners informed on how their legislators are voting.

In the name of reforming campaign finance laws, this Incumbent Protection legislation would allow the government to seize the membership lists of groups such as ours — and potentially outlaw our organization. The issue is scheduled to come before the Senate between March 19th and 26th.

The Incumbent Protection bill, S. 27, would require legislative advocacy groups — including Second Amendment organizations such as GOA — to report to the government if they spend more than $10,000 preparing for and participating in TV and radio broadcasts which mention officeholder-candidates within two months of an election. If they wished, government bureaucrats could define virtually all of an organization’s activities as “preparation” for TV and radio interviews.

With GOA employees regularly appearing on TV shows such as Fox News, Crossfire, and other programs to discuss gun-related legislation, there can be little doubt that S. 27 would apply to this organization. If it did, GOA would be required to provide the government with its donor list. For the time being, this disclosure would be limited to contributors of $1,000 or more, but no one should assume this threshold would not be reduced or eliminated once the government’s foot was in our membership door.

It goes without saying that an activist who sends a check to GOA to help protect his Second Amendment rights doesn’t want his name being registered with the government as a gun owner. And for that reason, GOA will fight this bill “tooth and nail.” And if this bill were to become law, GOA would not comply. We would fight it in court, and exhaust every possible resource, because we are not going to turn over our members’ names to the government.

This underscores why it is SO VERY IMPORTANT that we defeat this bill in the Congress! GOA would rather spend its members’ dollars defending 2nd Amendment freedoms, as opposed to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting 1st Amendment battles in court.

Finally, because the Incumbent Protection bill would define GOA’s battles against anti-gun legislation as “electioneering” if they occurred during election season, these legislative activities could affect our tax-exempt status — and ultimately, our existence. Urge your Senators to keep their distance from John McCain and Russ Feingold, and to respect the free speech rights of all Americans.