Since Parker, I’ve heard an idea floating around, that I’ve heard before, but Parker is prompting me to blog about it: that the NRA doesn’t really want to see the Supreme Court rule that the Second Amendment is an individual right because it would dry up their funding source.Â I don’t buy this line of thinking for a lot of reasons, and I think the NRA’s reluctance to use the courts can be alternately explained.
For one, the NRA’s political lobbying wing is a separately funded branch called ILA. Â The NRA membership dues do not go toward political lobbying, they go toward traditional NRA functions which center around supporting the shooting community through education, competition, and publications.Â If gun control were put to bed once and for all as a political issue, the NRA would continue to operate these functions, as it has for most of its history.Â I would still continue to be a member, and I’m sure a lot of other folks would too.
Another reason I’m not buying it is because an individual rights ruling isn’t going to put the issue to bed by a long shot.Â There will be many many fights ahead, because even with a strong, very broadly recognized right to keep and bear arms, there are still a lot of ways to complicate our lives that would probably pass constitutional muster.Â How many people do you think, for instance, would continue to own guns if they were required to muster for two weeks in the summer time for militia duty?Â I have my doubts that registration would be considered to be unconstitutional.Â Â In fact, you could probably use a militia powers justification for it at the national level.
The reason the NRA is reluctant to engage the courts is because doing so carries a lot of risk.Â While I like the Parker case a lot, and am optimistic we’re going to get a favorable ruling out of it, it’s still a huge gamble.Â If we’re wrong, the second amendment is effectively read out of the constitution, and things could get very ugly for us after that. Â I can’t honestly say I blame the NRA, especially given that they’ve been pretty successful at conventional political lobbying, for viewing the courts as the least predictable and most hazardous path of redress.Â I’m not sure I really disagree with them.