If DISCLOSE is Defeated, Does NRA Deserve Credit?

Joe Huffman, in the context of this whole DISCLOSE fiasco, an interesting philosophical question:

This may end up being a Philosophy 101 question. Should someone (or an organization) be criticized for their intentions or on the results of their actions? If they were being very clever and defeated the bill we should praise them. If they were just looking out for the short term and got lucky with the same result should we be critical of them?

Let me start off by saying I don’t think any of this was some devious plot by NRA. There’s too many unknowns at work they couldn’t have predicted ahead of time. But in conflict, any kind of conflict, engaging with your opponent yields important information. It forces him to react. In most conflict, the victor is often not the smartest player in the game, but the player who makes the fewest mistakes. Philosophically, I think you have to look at intent. But what was NRA’s intent?

Boiled down to one sentence it was “If we’re subject to this bill, we’re going to oppose it.” That forced the enemy, in this case, Pelosi and Van Hollen, to react. They reacted poorly, first by rejecting Shuler’s proposal to exempt all 501(c)(4) advocacy groups, which would include NRA and nearly everyone else. Second in floating a blatantly transparent deal that exempted pretty much only NRA, that had the effect of pissing everyone else off enough to actually do something in opposition to the bill. NRA engaged the enemy, and they made mistakes. The entire chain of events was set in motion by NRA’s initial opposition to DISCLOSE. If the bill goes down to defeat, which is looking increasingly likely, I think it would be unfair not to give NRA credit for its defeat. It was the NRA’s opposition to the bill that forced the Democrats to make mistakes.

Perhaps it could be argued that NRA making public pronouncements about not opposing DISCLOSE with Van Hollen’s amendment was a mistake. There’s an argument to be made. I don’t think many historians would argue that our carrier tactics in the Battle of the Coral Sea were all that up to stuff, but it’s still widely considered an American win because we were the side that made fewer mistakes. Strategically, the implications of that conflict played out in our favor. So I don’t think it’s any less correct to credit NRA with defeating DISCLOSE than it would be to say the U.S. Navy won the Battle of the Coral Sea.

13 thoughts on “If DISCLOSE is Defeated, Does NRA Deserve Credit?”

  1. Irrelevant. This is exactly when states started to fight for concealed carry. We wanted just a way to defend ourselves and nothing else. That crime dropped ’cause criminals decided paying with their lives was too expensive was an added bonus.
    If it was the intention or not is beyond the point. Not taking action would have guaranteed silencing ALL Second Amendment groups.

  2. >If DISCLOSE is Defeated, Does NRA Deserve Credit?

    Only as much as Coca-Cola deserves credit for the surge in popularity of classic coke once they killed of the new stuff.

    Still, I must say that the NRA is like a thousand times better than their inaction during Katrina, which is what spurred me to start blogging in the first place. They’re really starting to grok this new-media stuff. Please pass my complements onto your contacts over there.

    Hopefully the NRA has learned that it’s not cool to allow all the other gun rights groups, as well as other grassroots groups to be pushed under the bus, even if it isn’t the NRA doing the pushing.

    I and a thousand other pamphleteers will continue to do what we can to keep the NRA honest and on track. We’re the NRA too.

  3. What other gun rights groups were “pushed under the bus”? How would the DISCLOSE act have effected them?

  4. Sebastian,

    I’m amazed at:
    1. So many non-members and other gun-rights groups who have nothing to do with the NRA so upset about them. Nothing is stipping the others from doing what they please regarding DISCLOSE (except they all no the power of the NRA’s lobbying and know even the GOA and the others can’t affect congress without the NRA).
    2. How many NRA members are ready to tear up their membership cards over one matter when the NRA is involved in thousands each year.
    3. How few have any understanding of the MILLIONS of dollars the NRA spent on fighting for the right of free speach on behalf of it’s members after the 2002 legislation passed.


  5. The problem with politics is that you have to make bargains. Which is okay when you’re making a bargain about who gets which contract or which state the new fighter or missile are going to be made in.

    But when you’re making bargains about Constitutional rights – rights which belong to everybody, not just you – then you open yourself to criticism from EVERYBODY who is affected – even unfair criticism.

  6. You open yourself up to unfair criticism by doing this? Isn’t one always open to unfair criticism no matter what you say or do?

  7. I’m genuinely curious about one thing. What would it have cost the NRA to simply remain against DISCLOSE in any form? It’s obviously a bad bill; maybe not having much to do directly with the Second Amendment but, still, wouldn’t it have been in the NRA’s best interest to simply issue a statement against the bill and not change their position?

    Why? Why actually support this bill? What benefit did the NRA enjoy by lending their support to a bill that was not even popular among blue dog democrats? And then to take credit for the bill’s apparent demise? Really?

    Seems like to me, there are three positions one could take. Opposition, neutrality, and support. If the NRA are a “single issue” group, as you mentioned in a previous post, then why take a position at all? In taking a position of support, can you not see how many gun right advocates would be upset by NRA’s action?

  8. Re: my above post. I just read the Huffman piece and the NRA statement. I stand corrected on my assuming they actively supported the bill.

  9. Mike,

    NRA didn’t “support” the bill. NRA declined to actively oppose the bill after it no longer applied to them.

    Those are two very different things.

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