ACLU: The National Rifle Association Has a Right to Exist

Letitia James

New York State Attorney General Letitia James announces that the state is suing the National Rifle Association during a press conference, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The American Civil Liberties Union has never been a friend of gun owners or their rights. It seems that not all enumerated rights are equal — or even exist — in their book. So color us surprised that the national legal director for the ACLU, David Cole, has just published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal supporting the National Rifle Association’s right to exist.

To be clear, it’s not the Second Amendment that the ACLU is supporting here, it’s the First. It probably galled the ACLU brass to have to take a position on free speech that also inconveniently supports an organization that promotes gun rights.

As Cole makes clear . . .

The American Civil Liberties Union rarely finds itself on the same side as the National Rifle Association in policy debates or political disputes. Still, we are disturbed by New York Attorney General Letitia James’s recent effort to dissolve the NRA.

You can almost feel him stifle a little gag reflex as he banged that out on his keyboard. Cole noted the allegations of misappropriated funds against the NRA’s EVP and CEO Wayne LaPierre and three other Association officials in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit. If there’s evidence of wrongdoing, so be it. Let that all come out in a court of law.

But James didn’t stop there, merely going after the alleged wrongdoers. Instead, through her lawsuit, she went full jihad against the NRA — a group she refers to a terrorist organization — seeking to dissolve the Association entirely.

You may have your own opinions about the NRA, but all Americans should be concerned about this sort of overreach. If the New York attorney general can do this to the NRA, why couldn’t the attorney general of a red state take similar action against the ACLU, the AFL-CIO, Common Cause, or Everytown for Gun Safety?

There’s no reason at all…other than the AG’s duty to uphold and enforce laws without using her prosecutorial powers to punish ideological and political enemies.

Our democracy is premised on the right of association. The First Amendment protects not only the right to speak, but also to band together with others to advance one’s views. Making or resisting change in a democracy requires collective action, and a healthy democracy therefore demands a robust “civil society.” The right to associate can’t survive if officials can shut down organizations with which they disagree. The Supreme Court has notably invoked that right to protect union members, Communist Party adherents, the Boy Scouts and the NAACP.

Do tell.

That’s why two years ago, we supported the NRA’s lawsuit charging Gov. Cuomo with violating its First Amendment rights. Mr. Cuomo moved to dismiss the case, but a federal judge ruled against him, holding that if he targeted the NRA for its gun-promoting views, he violated its First Amendment rights.

Governor Soprano was no doubt cheering on Attorney General James’ effort to euthanize the NRA. But as the ACLU sees the rights to free speech and association, that’s a bridge too far.

And that’s why we believe Ms. James has also gone too far. Dissolution of a nonprofit is the most extreme remedy state regulators can seek. It has historically been reserved for organizations that are essentially false fronts for personal gain.

The NRA is different. It’s been around for more than 150 years and has millions of members. It engages in a range of lawful and properly tax-exempt pursuits, including teaching gun safety, operating shooting ranges, educating the public, and lobbying for laws that protect gun rights. If some of its leaders have become corrupt, they should be removed. If its board was incompetent in checking their abuses, it should be reformed.

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

Will the ACLU’s support help the NRA in its effort to fend off dissolution? It certainly can’t hurt. And the fact that an organization that tilts as far left as the ACLU felt it had to call out the New York AG doesn’t say much for her sense of prosecutorial discretion…such as it is.

So Mr. Cole’s op-ed should be welcome news in Fairfax. Wayne, Woody, John and Josh are still very much under the gun, but at least the NRA’s five million or so members have the ACLU in their corner. Whatever that’s worth.

 

comments

  1. avatar Nanashi says:

    Gotta protect the controlled opposition.

    1. avatar possum says:

      A few words that speak volumes.

      1. avatar Debbie W. says:

        Where need beThe NRA had joined the ACLU in some past cases. That may be the reason for the olive branch and it could be the once unmentionable fact that Gun Control is rooted in racism and genocide is out of the closet. Who wants The Truth About Gun Control hung around their necks? Not even ACLU sleazebags.

    2. avatar Missouri_Mule says:

      ACLU says the National Man Boy Love Association has a right to exist.
      Now I feel dirty and need a shower.

  2. avatar Mortimer Plimpton says:

    Try not to be surprised or enamored by erratic token sympathies from the ACLU. It’s all but a ploy effort to maintain a veil of legitimacy that they hope you’ll see as some kind of moral neutrality. They do this from time to time and you should not be fooled.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      I donated to ACLU several times in the late ’60s/early ’70s, before noticing their peculiar blindness on the subject of certain clearly specified civil liberties. I voiced my reservations a couple times and was ignored, and have ignored or opposed them ever since. The organization has no interest in civil liberties, is instead all about pushing a far-left liberal worldview. Don’t be fooled.

  3. avatar Truckman says:

    that’s the way it should be I know the NRA needs to get its leadership fixed but as far as the NRA itself it is good and does a lot of good so the New York AG needs to back off or just concentrate on the leaders themselves they get that straight and me and others will gladly renew our memberships

  4. avatar possum says:

    You can’t have gunms but you can get together and talk about them. It’s in the Constitution

  5. avatar Jeff says:

    Maybe the ACLU is seeing the writing on the wall. This country will be more conservative after the election.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      “…why couldn’t the attorney general of a red state take similar action…?”

      Well, I guess they *could*. But they’re not going to; it’s the blue states that have a hard-on for First Amendment violations. I think the ACLU knows this, although they can’t admit it in public, of course. That’s why they have to speak up for the NRA. If they keep protecting free speech (which isn’t a given, as they’ve abandoned a lot of their former principles), eventually they’re going to fall afoul of the social justice pecksniffs, and then they’re the ones being sued by a “progressive” blue-state government.

  6. avatar Middle Age Tactical Mall Ninja says:

    The significance of this is highly underrated. That the ALCU came out publicly to support the NRA is huge. Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the meeting to discuss this public statement.

    I think someone in hell is pulling out the winter coats.

    1. avatar possum says:

      Just about wants to make me join. Oh my, getting inundated with all this propaganda it’s hard to sort it all out.

  7. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    It does, however they need to be honest with members,that they will squander the members money to keep Wayne La Pew Pew in a life style he is accustomed to and actively infringe on members 2 nd, amendment rights by Negotiate Rights Away.

  8. avatar Geoff "Ammo. LOTS of ammo..." PR says:

    “Will the ACLU’s support help the NRA in its effort to fend off dissolution?”

    They talk the talk, will they walk the walk?

    The proof will be in the metaphorical pudding.

    How about it, ACLU? What say ye?

    1. avatar 9x39 says:

      Doubt it, ACLU has historically been all about every other right, except notably, the 2A. That’s one trench I suspect they won’t breach, and only this because their cage is rattled over the “could happen to us” precedent worries.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Hell, they invent all-new rights to protect, but 2A is foreign to their minds, meaning they are full of it.

  9. avatar former water walker says:

    Not surprised. Even a stopped clock ya know. I want an NRA untainted by scandal. I’ll rejoin that. Wayne & his sycophants must go!

    1. avatar Optimistic Engineer says:

      Agreed.
      When Olie North left, it saud something.

  10. avatar BLAMMO says:

    This really IS my shocked face.

    O-:

  11. avatar WI Patriot says:

    “ACLU: The National Rifle Association Has a Right to Exist”

    WHAT…???

    Now I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop…

    1. avatar Anton Solomyr says:

      They’re pleased with Negotiating Rights Away’s track record instead of just their lip-service rhetoric and are now starting to openly support them.

      Bound to happen sooner or later.

  12. avatar Sam I Am says:

    “If the New York attorney general can do this to the NRA, why couldn’t the attorney general of a red state take similar action against the ACLU, the AFL-CIO, Common Cause, or Everytown for Gun Safety?”

    ACLU showing concern that 2020 might be a tidal wave against Dims?

    1. avatar Geoff "Ammo. LOTS of ammo..." PR says:

      “ACLU showing concern that 2020 might be a tidal wave against Dims?”

      I *highly* doubt they believe that.

      But it does make me wonder what was behind the motivation for them to speak out?

      1. avatar possum says:

        They’re all in it together. NRA losing face, UCLA says, members join, money changes hands. The whole system works that way, one side against the other sitting on the same side of the fence.,,,. IMO

  13. avatar Ali says:

    But how do we know what is ‘exists’ and what is the conspiracy things? Because I saw a photo on the internet of J Lo with a couple of geezers dongs in her face, and it turned out that weren’t true. Explain that!

  14. avatar Anton Solomyr says:

    “The National Rifle Association has never been a friend of gun owners or their rights. ” – FIFY

  15. avatar Thinker1 says:

    I’m a life member. Would she like to call me a terrorist? I’d gladly sue her for defamation.

    1. avatar Someone says:

      By association, she already did. You and I are members of a organization she considers a terrorist group. What does that make us if not terrorists?

  16. avatar Crush Terrorists says:

    Sounds to me like condescending drivel from the ACLU. I group of liberals who see themselves as more relevant then the Supreme Court.

  17. avatar GS650G says:

    Still waiting for James to go after the Clinton Initiative. 3.2 million for Chelsea s wedding don’t you know.

  18. avatar Shawn says:

    The ACLU wants the NRA destroyed as much as anyone on the left. The only reason they’re opposing this action is because of the NRA is dissolved All the NRA members and gun owners are still going to be around. And they as well as a lot of other gun owners and people on the conservative end of the spectrum and even the liberal end of the spectrum in some cases will do that as a direct assault upon civil liberties. Something the ACLU used to care about. It’s just their strategy to avoid trump winning and gun owners voting for Trump. Could be any other year and they would fully support but New York is trying to do.

  19. avatar Anymouse says:

    The ACLU historically has taken up defense of speech and assembly rights for groups they have opposed. They were on the side of Conferate Veterans demanding Conferate Flag license plates in Texas. They famously supported the National Socialist Party to march in Skokie, which was parodied in the “I hate Illinois Nazis” scene in Blues Brothers. They’ve sided with Westboro Baptist protesting, the KKK adopting a highway in Georgia, and Chick-fil-a fighting against cities trying to drive them out.
    They have to do this if they want to protect the First Amendment. If the groups they ideologically oppose lose in court, it becomes a precedent that can then be used against the groups they support. I believe that many of their members are just as dedicated to free speech and assembly as most of us are to bearing arms. However, they pick and choose rights worthy of defense, like gay marriage over religious beliefs. They used to ignore and now outright oppose 2A.

    1. avatar Serpent_Vision says:

      They did oppose the proposal to ban guns for suspected terrorists and opposed Obama’s rules adding some social security recipients from being added to the NICS list of prohibited people. While they don’t seem to care about gun rights themselves, they are aware of what sets a dangerous precedent that threatens rights they do care about.

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