NRA’s Folly Growing
When the Supreme Court overturned another major section of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Law, Democrats were indignant. How dare the Court suggest that the Constitution overrules the will of the Congress? As a result, Democrats in the House and Senate immediately introduced new language intended to slip past the Court’s ruling and they were determined to pass the measure before the November elections primarily so conservative groups like the TEA Party would have difficulty holding individual politicians responsible for their votes on pork, spending, and taxes. The bill, like its predecessor, is mainly an incumbent protection act designed to make it harder for special interest groups to target particular politicians over votes or other actions.
One major obstacle proponents of the bill faced was strong opposition from one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington – the NRA. In an unprecedented maneuver, sponsors of the measure – at NRA’s suggestion – added language exempting certain large, established organizations from the provisions of the bill. The description of who was exempted fit only a small handful of organizations, including NRA. Once the legislation no longer applied to them, NRA withdrew their opposition to the bill – much to the dismay of their state affiliates, individual members, conservative organizations, and other gun groups – and the bill subsequently squeaked by in the House by a vote of 219 – 206.
Now the measure goes to the Senate where it is championed by avowed NRA hater and consummate dirty political schemer Chuck Schumer. Early reports suggested that opposition to the NRA deal from several Democrat politicians might scuttle the bill. I postulated on that idea myself, but that was before I had a chance to think the matter through. Upon reflection, here is what I expect to happen next:
Schumer – who heads the Democrat Senatorial Election Committee and is a very likely successor to Harry Reid as Democrat Leader if Reid is defeated as expected in November – will push the measure and quickly capitulate to “pressure” from Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to remove the language exempting NRA from the bill. The Senate will pass the measure without the NRA exemption. That will take the bill to a conference committee made up of representatives from the House and Senate – all hand-picked by Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. The Committee will agree to the Senate version, or a slightly different version which does not exempt NRA, and the bill will be pushed back to the House for an up or down vote. It will pass by a narrow margin and be signed by President Obama.
The other possibility is that Schumer will convince Feinstein and Lautenberg to support the version with all of the exemptions. The advantage of the “compromise version is that the only way the act could be effectively stopped after passage is with a lawsuit. Since all of the largest organizations are exempted from the bill, there are few organizations who would be constrained by the law who also have the resources to fund an aggressive lawsuit.
The bill is written to go into effect immediately upon the President signing it and, since it will be next year before the specific regulations implementing the law will be completed, political groups will be taking an enormous risk if they do any electioneering that might be covered in the law. That means that unless this can be stopped in the Senate or blocked by a lawsuit, all new, small, or midsized groups will be effectively muzzled leading into the all-important November elections.
The NRA’s management made a huge mistake backing away from their opposition to the DISCLOSE Act and its passage will do serious harm to the Republic and to NRA.
Right now the primary focus must be on stopping this bill in the Senate. Readers are urged to contact their Senators and let them know that they consider a vote for this bill a vote against the First Amendment. NRA members should also contact members of the NRA Board of Directors and tell them that they want NRA to step up and fight this legislation.
If this fight goes badly as I expect it will, we are going to need as many angry NRA members as possible to try to make some changes at NRA. Quitting the NRA in protest does nothing but reduce the clout of those of us who want to try to make changes in the organization. You can’t fix it if you’re not a member.