New York Times to Gun Lobby: STFU

The New York Times reckons that the National Rifle Association (NRA) should keep its big yap shut. More specifically, the gun rights group should have been shamed into silence (re: its opposition to banning guns sales to citizens on the FBI’s highly inaccurate Terrorist Watch List) by the recent near-miss non-bombing in Times Square. “Congress, for example, is cowering before the gun lobby insistence that even terrorist suspects who are placed on the “no-fly list” must not be denied the right to buy and bear arms. Suspects on that list purchased more than 1,100 weapons in the last six years, but Congress has never summoned the gumption to stop this trade in the name of public safety and political sanity.” Just out of curiosity, how many of those “terrorist suspects” subsequently used those guns for a terrorist attack? Never mind. And while you’re not at it, don’t define the “gun lobby.” You know; other than the NRA. All of whom are evil, evil people for daring—daring I tell you—to use the political process to promote their legislative agenda.

Legislation to close this glaring threat continues to languish with little promise of enactment because a bipartisan mass of lawmakers fear retribution by the gun lobby’s campaign machine . . . It is a sign of the gun lobby’s growing confidence that if feels free to keep up the pressure, public and private, after the near-disaster in New York. Normally, the lobby goes quiet for a decent interval after a particularly heinous crime occurs.

That’s not been my understanding of the situation, Senator. The NRA issues statements after all high profile news stories, including those involving spree killings. When the Virginia Tech massacre went down, they responded immediately—AND with respect, prudence and caution.

Anyway, you might think that the Times is headed down the same old path with this one: tell the pols to damn the NRA and pass the legislation. Get on with the unnamed, not-linked S.1317 (Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2009) and S.2820 (Preserving Records of Terrorist & Criminal Transactions Act of 2009).

So that the Attorney General can revoke any U.S. citizen’s right to purchase a firearm without having to submit his or her decision to public scrutiny, removing the right of a citizen to confront his accuser. And other tramplings and potential tramplings on the Second Amendment and common sense. But no. It’s worse than that.

To protect its clout in the political arena, the gun lobby is challenging legislation needed to contain an expected flood of unregulated attack ads in this year’s federal elections. Corporations, unions and advocacy groups were given this laissez-faire spending freedom in a misguided decision by the Supreme Court. An urgent countermeasure to require public disclosure of these groups’ stealthy money sources and donors is being opposed “in its present form” by the N.R.A.

It would be folly for Congress to create disclosure exemptions for the N.R.A. or any other advocacy heavyweight by distinguishing them from corporate and union organizations under the bill. Disclosure would be rendered a joke by a flood of exemptions. Congress must hold the line and let the public in on the looming campaign machinations. It should not allow groups on the right or left to spend freely from the political shadows.

Whoa. The Times is throwing down to the Supremes. Well, fair enough. That’s their right, right? But if the “gun lobby” wants to do the same to a political candidate, their free speech should be regulated. And what’s with that “from the political shadows” stuff? First, the NRA declares its finances and spending. Second, the irony of that accusation coming from an anonymous editorial writer is just too cute.

In fact, I reckon it’s only a matter of time before The Times goes here: joining the left in accusing the group of fostering domestic terrorism. Which is a shame, really. The Times had a rep for impartiality, which they could have used to foster sensible debate on issues of national security of Constitutional rights. Oh well. Never mind. These days, we have the Internet. And AR-15s! Sorry, couldn’t resist.

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