NRA’s Position on DOJ Brief

In a move that’s sure to make my next wheelbarrow a bit less laden with crisp, unmarked bills, I felt the NRA statement on the DOJ Brief was weak. I feel I should further elaborate here.

First, NRA’s detractors are bound to tout this as a prime example of everything they think is wrong with the National Rifle Association. Based on what I’ve been seeing various places, that’s already happening. I’m not going to join that camp, but I am going to lay out why I think a more strongly worded statement was needed here.

The NRA needed to be diplomatic about how it went after the issue, and as much as people might want to see it, they can’t afford to attack the Bush Administration in a big and public way. In short, they have to be nice. But they didn’t have to just roll over, which I think is what they did. Former NRA President Sandy Froman goes into more detail in this article as to where exactly the Bush Administration has let us down:

But it does not ask the Court to affirm the DC Circuit Court judgment in favor of Heller, either. Instead, it asks the Court to vacate (or throw out) the lower court opinion, and send the case back for a rehearing applying a lesser standard of review to the rights embodied in the Second Amendment than are typically applied to other amendments in the Bill of Rights, like the First and Fourth Amendments.

Read the whole thing. If you read the brief in its entirety, the Solicitor General is not only asking for a standard that would, presumably, uphold a number of federal gun laws, but contains language that suggests they would want to leave the door open to even further restrictions, such as a new assault weapons ban or a ban on certain other types of firearms.

The gun vote was a primary driver for making sure Bush won the White House in 2000 and 2004, and the NRA endorsements he received played a big role on that. The Heller case is arguably the most important struggle gun owners have ever faced, and I don’t think its unreasonable to demand something greater than lukewarm support from The Administration on this matter. I think a proper response would have been to praise The Administration for what they got right, but make it clear that the level of review called for in this brief is unacceptable to the NRA. Sandy closes out with some good language in her article:

Each presidential candidate must speak out on this brief. The Justice Department has not gone far enough to support the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment, and so those who aspire to lead our nation must step up and call on the Supreme Court to affirm the judgment of the DC Circuit striking down the ban.

This is a chance for all the GOP candidates to show what they’re made of, distinguishing themselves from the Democrats.

In short, had I been charged with writing a statement for NRA, mine would have looked more like Sandy’s. Praise what the Administration got right, explain what they got wrong and why it does not please us, explain how important this case is for our gun rights, invite the GOP presidential aspirants to talk about how they could do better.

I think there were ways to let the GOP know we are displeased, without jeopardizing relations. I don’t think we got that, and I worry that rolling over will cheapen NRA’s endorsement, and send a message to the next President that there’s no risk in upsetting the gun vote, because where else are we going to go?

UPDATE: Joe isn’t surprised.  To be honest, I’m not really surprised either.  But I do want to do better in 2008 than we did in 2000.  Bush is a reflection of the politics we had to settle for in 2000.  It wasn’t too long ago when candidates were arguing for licensing of gun owners.  The political climate is much more favorable now, and I want to ensure that the GOP candidates for 2008 understand we expect more of them than we did of Bush.

5 thoughts on “NRA’s Position on DOJ Brief”

  1. I’m right with you brother. Although I’m not so sure that the barn door isn’t already wide open regarding NRA endorsements being “cheapened”, I think you’re analysis of the situation and the NRA’s weak response is right on the money.

  2. NRA seems to be, recently, playing a very conservative game. I can’t speak to the causes; perhaps they’re trying to avoid the kind of hubris that led their opposition astray? Nonetheless, you can’t win if you play defense all the time.

  3. This is the same thing as a donor giving to both parties. Whoever wins, he has access. Not at all the same thing as taking a stand.

    Not taking a stand is not what NRA is supposed to be doing. If not now, when?

    The issues will never be more clear cut. And the opportunity will never be better. If not now, when?

  4. A strong statement now would put all the candidates on notice that none of them will win without the vote of 2A supporters. So why wasn’t there a strong statement when it could possibly have an effect on the future political climate?

    If not now, when?

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