I really don’t understand how a bill that forces corporate and union campaign ad buyers to reveal their funding is anti-free speech. America has had a campaign ad disclosure law for candidates for years: my name is Pork Spending Bill and I approve this message. The political process has not been hamstrung by its dictates. But the idea seems to stir up a lot of animus on the right, so there must be something wrong with it. But what’s beyond debate: the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) exemption from the DISCLOSE ACT has left the left with new ammunition against the gun rights group. They can now paint it as the kind of special interest group that even Tea Partiers (yes them) abhor. More worrying, other smaller pro-gun groups (i.e. anyone who isn’t the NRA) are outraged at the NRA’s lack of solidarity. The small guys have broken their unspoken alliance with The Mother of All Gun Rights Lobby Groups. The Gun Owners of America are up in arms. . .

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.”

Ditto the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

The NRA is fully prepared to sell out grassroots gun organizations across the nation, including VCDL, to the anti-gun Democratic leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives by not fighting a bill that will gag the free speech of those who criticize members of Congress.

The NRA, in a news release included below, has said it will turn a blind eye to H.R. 5175, the DISCLOSE Act, since it exempts the NRA.  Bottom line:  the NRA has been bought off.

The NRA is fully prepared to sell out grassroots gun organizations across the nation, including VCDL, to the anti-gun Democratic leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives by not fighting a bill that will gag the free speech of those who criticize members of Congress.

The NRA, in a news release included below, has said it will turn a blind eye to H.R. 5175, the DISCLOSE Act, since it exempts the NRA.  Bottom line:  the NRA has been bought off.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has yet to check in with its take on the NRA loophole. Suffice it to say, the hundreds of smaller gun rights groups living in the long, long, LONG shadow of the NRA are not well pleased that it’s one rule for them, one rule for us.

The question is: will NRA members wear this? I’m thinking yes. For now. But not gladly. And there will be a reckoning.

The NRA’s rep is all about “the American way.” Playing fair is a big part of that. As is not compromising your [members’] principles for simple expediency. The organization’s recent snuggle-up to Harry Reid’s re-election campaign set the stage for this perceived perfidy. This NRA exemption from a law—no matter how unpopular—is a PR disaster both externally and internally.

The NRA has over four million members, a gigantic war chest and a powerful organization. Even if it were to lose members’ support, it would take decades for another gun rights groups to even begin to eclipse it. But the longest journey starts with a single step. Unless the NRA changes its course on this one, the management who cooked-up this compromise will face retribution. Or, even worse for the NRA, not.

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