In 2019, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution calling the NRA a “domestic terrorist organization,” a designation that could be used by officials to blacklist anyone associating with this civil-rights association. The NRA sued and the city of San Francisco soon backed down, as its mayor issued a memo calling the resolution “non-binding” and stated that no department would take steps to attack the relationships between city contractors and the NRA.
The year before, on the other side of America, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) tweeted: “The regulations NY put in place are working. We’re forcing the NRA into financial jeopardy. We won’t stop until we shut them down.”
Under Cuomo, New York weaponized its financial-oversight arm, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), to treat the NRA as if it were a terrorist organization by directly attacking its business relationships. This is a constitutional infringement, as the right to freely associate is also protected by the First Amendment.
As this issue was written, the case was still ongoing, as the NRA had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an anti-First Amendment ruling from a lower court. This case is so important that even the ACLU, which officially doesn’t even believe the Second Amendment to the U.S. Bill of Rights protects an individual right, is backing the NRA petition to the high court.
This case is very important for the future of our Second Amendment rights, as the First Amendment and the Second Amendment are linked at the hip.
Ayn Rand, a libertarian author who had fled Russian communism, explained this link when she said, “Once a country accepts censorship of the press and of speech, then nothing can be won without violence. Therefore, so long as you have free speech, protect it. This is the life-and-death issue in this country: Do not give up the freedom of the press—of newspapers, books, magazines, television, radios, movies and every other form of presenting ideas. So long as that’s free, a peaceful intellectual turn is possible.”
Now, some may feel, on either pole of American politics, that it is not fashionable to read or quote Rand these days. And, to be fair, Rand’s “Objectivism” philosophy has received some smart criticism, but she nevertheless lasts because she could be so right about our freedom; indeed, she also wrote, “Remember also that the smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights, cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”
There is no talking around this basic truth; after all, if the smallest minority isn’t the individual, then there would be no individual rights.
So, if government censorship is allowed to restrict American citizens’ right to speak or to freely associate, then the rest of our constitutionally protected freedoms would surely be in greater jeopardy—such as our right to keep and bear arms.
Therefore, when our First Amendment rights are infringed upon, as the state of New York clearly did by trying to destroy this association of millions of citizens when it attacked the NRA’s right to freely associate with financial institutions, then we must get even louder in the public square and in the courts to peacefully defend our freedoms.
This is what your NRA is doing.