House Vote Threatens GOA E-Mail Alert Network
(Wednesday, July 11, 2001) — Beginning tomorrow, House members will take up legislation aimed at restricting the free speech rights of Americans who attempt to criticize elected officials for their anti-gun (or otherwise unconstitutional) votes.
This anti-gun legislation is aimed at shielding incumbents from watch-dog groups like Gun Owners of America who have the “pesky” habit of illuminating the anti-Second Amendment behavior of congressmen in their own districts.
As we mentioned earlier this week, the Democratic version of the Incumbent Protection Bill (H.R. 2356) adopts the McCain-Feingold approach which passed in the Senate. The House bill contains requirements forcing GOA to report its large donors under certain circumstances, and ultimately will threaten the tax status — as well as the very existence — of groups like GOA.
The Republican alternative, H.R. 2360, has been introduced by Rep. Bob Ney (OH). While perhaps well-intentioned as a means of subverting the Democratic bill, the Ney bill will still create another level of bureaucracy and hamper the efforts of groups like GOA to inform you about the voting records of your elected representatives.
In some ways, the Ney version may be worse. One internet publication — wired.com — analyzed the bill this way today:
The version that House Republicans will offer as an alternative is far broader in one important way: It regulates “any” paid communication — Including Internet communication — that mentions a candidate for federal office. Anyone who makes such a communication, not just political parties or candidates, would be required to keep careful records and count online spending toward a $50,000 limit that would trigger a filing with the federal government.
In other words, most alerts that GOA sends you during a campaign period would require GOA to register with the federal government — or else face certain penalties. The fact that the “trigger” is $50,000 is hardly reassuring. When one factors the cost of salaries, postage, mailing materials, and research that groups like GOA must expend in communicating with the public, there is no doubt that the $50,000 limit will be easily reached.
So whether we send you an e-mail, fax, newsletter or letter… or whether we appear on radio or TV to discuss a candidate’s record on the Second Amendment… GOA will be required to file certain papers with the federal government if our expenses reach the magic number. These are the types of restrictions that anti-gun administrations — such as the Clinton presidency most recently — can effectively use to harass pro-gun groups like GOA or NRA. Under the Ney bill, a future anti-gun administration will have a new and far-reaching weapon at its disposal.
Attention Pro-gun Business Owners!
The GOA webmall, expected to open near the end of next month, will allow merchants to sell guns, ammo, and sporting or firearms-related merchandise through the GOA website. Best of all, there are NO up-front costs to vendors — and NO ongoing account fees. For details on how your business can become a part of this ground-breaking enterprise, please contact GOA via e-mail at [email protected] or call 703-321-8585 during business hours.