President’s Column | Help NRA Save Firearm Freedom By Saving Freedom Of Speech

by
posted on April 18, 2023
Charles L. Cotton

At the outset, let me acknowledge that all protections found in the U.S. Constitution protect Americans from government action, not private persons or entities. However, in today’s world, social-media platforms are so pervasive, so influential, that their collaboration with governmental actors is of great concern. Increasingly, we are seeing elected officials and governmental bureaucrats using social media to achieve a goal or promote a philosophy that the Constitution prohibits them from doing directly. The First Amendment to the Constitution is a critical shield for Americans and for a free society. The unholy collaboration between social media—and legacy media—and government is poking holes in that shield, and it must stop.

We’ve all seen how social-media companies censor content on their platforms to silence anyone who disagrees with their positions. Whether the topic is the origins of COVID or Hunter Biden’s laptop computer, the self-appointed gatekeepers of the information superhighway are happy to roadblock anyone who doesn’t parrot their message. And the legacy-media propaganda outlets are similarly eager to monopolize debate with their own approved narrative.

It’s bad enough that these forces seek to intimidate or silence political opponents. What’s worse is that they’re willing to restrain your First Amendment right to free speech as a strategy to strangle your Second Amendment right to own a gun for lawful purposes.

Now, politicians are passing laws to censor firearm freedom out of the national conversation. Last year, California Gov. Gavin Newsom—who called the Second Amendment a “suicide pact” (though he is surrounded by armed security) signed a law banning any advertisement or communication “concerning any firearm-related product in a manner that reasonably appears to be attractive to minors.”

It doesn’t matter whether the communication is intended to appeal to people under age 18. It might be nothing more than an ad alerting parents to the availability of youth marksmanship programs or junior hunter-safety training. If an anti-gun judge decides the announcement is “attractive to minors,” then the sponsors of the communication can be punished with fines of $25,000 per violation.

It also doesn’t matter where you live. If you search online for shooting-related products, you’re often blocked with a pop-up window requiring you to certify that you’re over the age of 18 before they’ll show you the information you seek.

As if all that weren’t bad enough, the gun-ban lobby is also petitioning the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to suppress commercial advertising for firearms in the same ways they’ve done with cigarettes and alcohol. Not only do they want to make shooting sports inaccessible to young people but also they want to stigmatize firearms as harmful. This is why they also lobbied the CDC to suppress statistics on defensive firearm use and why the CDC acquiesced to their demands.

Let’s be clear: There’s no constitutional right to alcohol or tobacco in the Bill of Rights, maybe because neither smoking nor drinking can save your life or safeguard your freedom the way that owning a firearm can and does for millions of Americans.

Folks, I know I’m preaching to the congregation here. But here’s the danger: Too many young people no longer cherish freedom of speech the way that older generations do. Too many of them see speech codes and censorship as somehow being valid tools to ensure a more-just society. And too many freedom-loving patriots are willing to bite their tongues and remain silent.

If these enemies of Second Amendment freedom prevail, millions of young Americans—our country’s future leaders—will never get the chance to experience the fun and achievement of the shooting sports for themselves. Instead, they will come to view the Second Amendment as an outdated, socially unacceptable relic of our past. The consequences, for their personal safety and our nation’s freedom, will be deadly.

That’s why your NRA will never remain silent. We’re backing lawsuits in California to stop the state’s unconstitutional schemes restricting the First Amendment right to free speech as a strategy to deny Second Amendment freedom to future generations. To combat New York state’s war against the NRA, we’ve petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to defend your First Amendment right to assemble, associate and petition government for a redress of grievances.

Through youth programs for every age, NRA does more than any other public or private group to ensure young people understand their freedoms, exercise those freedoms responsibly and demand freedom for themselves and their progeny—instead of staring into their phones, ingesting the toxic programming of the Big Tech social engineers.

If preserving and perpetuating that legacy of freedom is important to you, then you have no greater ally than the NRA—and NRA has no greater asset than you.

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