Why Gun-Rights Advocates Are Key To Saving The Bill Of Rights

posted on October 3, 2016

“Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.” –Ayn Rand

Many gun-rights advocates will tell you they have become “single-issue voters.” Some say this with a shrug, as if to communicate they have no other choice given the attacks on our freedom. Others say this boastfully, as a taunt to the political correctness of this age. In either case, when they tell me this, I always answer, “You’re not really a single-issue voter, you know?”

They stop. Their eyes tighten. They are wondering whether I’m challenging their convictions. So I explain that the millions of Americans who see the Second Amendment as something to hold tightly onto are, by the nature of their fundamental stance, protecting much more than gun rights.

Invariably their expression softens, and they ask what I mean.

The constituency of citizens who stand together to form the NRA are protecting much more the Second Amendment, as our right to keep and bear arms isn’t a stand-alone right, but is (as it must be) linked to our other natural rights and constitutional protections from government as outlined in the U.S. Bill of Rights.

 … the millions of Americans who see the Second Amendment as something to hold tightly onto are, by the nature of their fundamental stance, protecting much more than gun rights.The First Amendment protects, among other things, our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom of association and our right to petition our government (in other words, to lobby). This freedom of speech and right to petition was attacked in 2002 by a piece of campaign finance reform legislation known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. This legislation made it illegal for corporations or associations, such as the NRA, to run ads for or against a politician within 30 days of a primary or caucus or 60 days of a general election.

Your NRA was instrumental is the legal push that led to the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the case Citizens United v. FEC, which overturned this provision barring members of the NRA, for example, from pooling their money to push back against a politician who has or wants to take away their freedom. (It is worth noting that Hillary Clinton wants to nominate justices to the Supreme Court who would overturn Citizens United and again allow government to censor political speech.)

It is helpful to see this particular fight in context. Remember that in 2002 many anti-Second Amendment politicians were attempting to sue gun manufacturers for the actions of criminals. The lawsuits weren’t giving anti-gun groups and politicians victories in court, as they were frivolous, but they were financially harming America’s gun manufacturers. 

But even though politicians were doing this to gun makers, those gun makers were barred from fighting back with ads calling out those politicians during the time immediately preceding elections. In other words, America had an age-old manufacturing sector that was both being bankrupted by government lawsuits and at the same time wasn’t allowed to publicly fight back against the elected representatives who wanted to destroy them.

Despite these undemocratic impediments, after years of lobbying Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, an act signed into federal law in 2005 that shields gun manufacturers from being sued for the criminal misuse of their products, while retaining the right of people to file suit against firearms manufacturers for product liability claims. Without the NRA’s millions of members and its dedicated lobbyists, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act would never have passed (and if Hillary Clinton wins this coming election and gets her way, this law will be repealed).

Such examples illustrate that lobbying by corporations and associations can be a critical self-defense mechanism against government. Sure, lobbying and paying for issue ads aren’t inherently good or bad any more than free speech is inherently good or bad; it’s the First Amendment right to “petition the government” and to speak one’s mind that is good, and the loss of it that is bad. … lobbying by corporations and associations can be a critical self-defense mechanism against government.

This wasn’t a Second Amendment issue, but it was, as you can’t protect the Second without the First.

There have been similar fights in which gun-rights advocates have been the key to victory. A current example now being waged is over our Fifth Amendment right to due process under the law. Hillary Clinton wants to add government black lists, such as the no-fly list, to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This is a clear Fifth Amendment violation. Any honest judge would strike down any government attempt to do this. There are very simple and smart ways for the government to make sure those on terrorist watch lists don’t get guns. It isn’t necessary to destroy a basic constitutional freedom to make this happen. Once again, the people who are standing most steadfastly in the way of this constitutional infringement are gun-rights advocates.

The NRA is uniquely poised to protect your freedom because the NRA, unlike so many today, isn’t standing in a compromised position. The NRA is a civil-liberties organization that isn’t partisan, but is doggedly focused on protecting our individual right to bear arms. To see this for yourself, simply look at the “A” to “F” grades the NRA gives candidates near elections. You’ll find that the grades aren’t partisan, but simply weigh each candidate’s stance on gun rights. 

This clear, principled stand is exactly why the NRA is so central to protecting all our freedoms. It is also a key reason why politicians like Hillary Clinton see the NRA as an association of millions of Americans she must destroy to get what she really wants.

This is why I say to those gun owners who claim to be single-issue voters, “No, you are not a single-issue voter—you are a freedom voter.”


Deputy Tyler Thoman
Deputy Tyler Thoman

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