Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The NRA vs. the Libertarians

The Washington Post published an interesting article about the infighting going on between the NRA and the Libertarian lawyers running the McDonald vs. Chicago case.

The National Rifle Association was on the outside looking in when the Supreme Court handed gun rights activists a landmark victory in 2008.

After the court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to gun ownership and that the District's handgun ban was unconstitutional, it was an upstart band of libertarian lawyers that celebrated on the marble steps and received the glory for the breakthrough decision.

The NRA, the nation's premier and most powerful gun rights group, has worked hard not to be in that position again. And because of an unusual intervention recently by the justices, its attorney will be in the mix when the court considers the next big guns case next month.

This was news to me not long ago. One of the commenters gently educated me about the fact that it's not the NRA running these things.

Alan Gura, who has ties to The Cato Institute, will be lead council representing those challenging Chicago area gun laws. But the Supreme Court is also letting Paul Clement, recently hired by the National Rifle Association, offer an argument.

Ilya Shapiro, a Supreme Court scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute, where Gura has ties, wrote, "NRA prefers to seek glory for itself rather than presenting the strongest case for its purported constituency of gun owners." He said in an interview that the NRA's decision to seek time at oral arguments March 2 was "about fundraising, not lawyering."

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam responded: "Our client is the Second Amendment. We wanted to make sure that all avenues were addressed and all bases covered" in convincing the court that the amendment applies to state and local governments.

That's what I call infighting. What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.


  1. This is why the gun control crowd can not understand why they fail time and again. They do not understand true grass roots. They need to blame the NRA. The NRA controls us all. The NRA stirs up the masses, blah, blah blah.

    The truth is, the NRA is 4 million out of 80 million gun owners. Out of the remaining 76 million gun owners, easily a third of them will identify themselves with the NRA if asked but do not bother to pay dues and join otherwise. There are plenty of other clubs and organizations out there as well, just the NRA is the oldest and the biggest. And, contrary to what the moonbats will tell you, the NRA does far more than just lobby. They train instructors, they create programs, manage competitions, etc.

    There are literally hundreds, maybe thousands of gun clubs. There are untold numbers of websites, forums and such on the web full of active gun owners. You won't find that in the anti freedom crowd. In fact, this is one of the few anti-gun websites that even permit and encourage discussion. Why is that?

    Infighting? Absolutely. There are plenty that believe the NRA is far to compromising. Then there are other organizations that do not have the power of the NRA but take a harder stance. Then there are the Fudds out there that are only concerned with their sport and will not lift a finger to support other shooting sports.

    The thing is, gun owners will usually come together at least with a majority to fight off a bad bill but, yes, there will always be dissenters and infighting about almost any issue within the gun owners ranks. About the only time you see us all get together and speak loudly with a single voice is when we are ostracising one of our own. If that unanimity would ever be focused against a political issue, its toast.

    --Not Jade Gold
    --Certified Gunloon

  2. It's really pretty simple at its core, Mike, though the details get complicated in any legal process. The NRA and Gura/SAF/ISRA have slightly different goals. They both want the 2nd incorporated via the 14th, but the Gura group wants that done in a way that brings the 14th back to life completely, so that other rights can be similarly applied against the states.

    There are two reasons otherwise pro-gun people still oppose that way of doing things. The NRA's reason is simply that it's not the usual method and they don't want to take any chances. The usual method is the sloppy workaround of "Due Process Incorporation." It works, but it's slow and it means that only rights that are currently in vogue get incorporated. It's a workaround the Supreme Court developed 60 years after an earlier court did its best to kill the 14th Amendment entirely (in the Slaughterhouse cases that Gura wants overturned.) The NRA figures that if the Court wants to use Due Process, they may decide not to incorporate if they're asked to go further and overturn such an old case. Almost all legal scholars agree that the Slaughterhouse cases were wrongly decided (on purpose) and have for 140 years, but that's still 140 years of precedent, even if it's wrong precedent, and the NRA figures someone else can take that chance.

    There's a third group--"conservatives" who consider themselves pro-gun, but are afraid of libertarianism because they fear it will lead to things like decriminalizing narcotics and allowing icky weddings with dude-smooching. They like the NRA approach precisely because it will continue the tradition of selective incorporation. They're afraid that if Gura is allowed to overturn Slaughterhouse and get the court to rule that "Privileges and Immunities" in the 14th Amendment means what it meant in 1867 (notice how simple and logical that seems?) then a later court might find a right to get married, or a right to smoke a plant, or who knows what kind of craziness.

    In the end, though, this is all unlikely to matter. Almost everyone agrees that there are 5-6 votes for incorporation by one method or another; the Justices themselves will work out which method they want to use. Although they'd never admit it, they've read the briefs and probably have a good idea what they're going to vote to do already.

  3. FWM has size issues.

    First, it's extremely doubtful the NRA has 4M members. It's own legal counsel noted actual membership is closer to 3M. The NRA has also noted it keeps many members on its rolls who have ceased being members and/or are deceased.

    Second, turnover in the NRA is extremely high. Only 1.5M NRA members are eligible to vote in NRA elections. Eligibility requirements are that one has to be a dues paying member for 5 continuous years or more.

    Third, those that can vote are extremely apathetic; in the last 5 NRA elections, fewer than 100K voted. This represents a turnout of almost 6%--which is abysmally low. Such low turnout means a great deal of the membership is alienated from the process.

    Fourth, the vast majority of NRA members could care less about the NRA. Remember, many memberships are given away for free or at discounts for other goods.

    Fifth, as seen in the recent Luntz survey, most self-described NRA members disagree with the agenda of the NRA.


  4. Thanks for making my point, Jade.

    The NRA is not the big bad boogeyman that the Brady's and other moonbats gripe about. It is one of thousands of pro gun groups. The NRA's membership is a small portion of gun owners. Why then does Jade and the other anti-freedom loons cry so much about the NRA and its massive power?

    --THE gun loon.

  5. JadeGold pulled out of thin air: The NRA has also noted it keeps many members on its rolls who have ceased being members and/or are deceased.

    Not expecting anything, I still have to ask for citation.

  6. In reality, FWM, I've always questioned the NRA's effectiveness and clout. About the only thing the NRA does well is self-promotion; i.e.; getting dupes to contribute.

    BTW, the NRA spends well over 50% of the monies it receives on fundraising--IOW, salaries for Chairman Wayne and crew.


  7. FWM - There are also other Pro-2A groups which have more support, membership, and influence than the Brady's.

    SAF immediately comes to mind, as does the JPFO.

  8. Jade - How many members does the Brady Campaign have? The NRA?


  9. JadeGold is reduced to breaking out the Luntz "poll":

    Fifth, as seen in the recent Luntz survey, most self-described NRA members disagree with the agenda of the NRA.

    Luntz's company, the "Word Doctors," proudly advertise their ability to shape wording to get the desired results:

    If you need to create the language to build support for legislation, we’ll find the right words. If you need to kill a bad bill, we’ll show you how. Either take control of the debate, or the debate will take control of you. It really is that simple.

  10. Don covered the difference in approach quite well.

    We still have a divided court, 4 conservatives, 4 liberals and Kennedy as the swing vote. More than likely, Kennedy will again side with the conservatives as he did in the Heller case, but the NRA wants a little insurance. The due process approach via the 14th would allow the SCOTUS to incorporate the 2A without revisiting 140 years of court cases which Slaughter-House may have served as precedent.

    Gura wants the gold ring by incorporating the 2A via the Privileges & Immunities clause of the 14th.

    The NRA approach is a safer bet and would be a huge victory. Gura's approach carries more risk yet if P & I prevails, the level of victory would be astounding.

    The 2A will be incorporated, it's just a matter of do we have 5-6 Justices on our side or 7-8 on our side.


  11. JadeGold: "I've always questioned the NRA's effectiveness and clout."

    There just might be some overlap of agreement between JadeGold and FWM.

    If it was only the NRA in opposition, I don't think that there would be the same reluctance by politicians to embrace anti-gunowner positions. It's the prospect of arousing the ire of many other gunowners that's probably responsible for more and more politicians running away from gun control.

  12. "Jade - How many members does the Brady Campaign have? The NRA?"

    The Brady Bunch just announced they have 180,000 "members" because that's how large their email distribution list is.

    They are blissfully ignorant of the fact that a healthy percentage of that email list are the pro-gunners who put themselves on that list in order to keep tabs on what they're doing.

    They telegraph their strategy to us before it hits the MSM.


  13. BTW, the NRA spends well over 50% of the monies it receives on fundraising--IOW, salaries for Chairman Wayne and crew.

    Ah yes, more blatant dishonesty from Jadegold that he will not back up with evidence.

  14. JadeGold pulled out of thin air: The NRA has also noted it keeps many members on its rolls who have ceased being members and/or are deceased.

    Then I commented: Not expecting anything, I still have to ask for citation.

    Nothing to back it up with Jade? I think we can safely say that there is no truth to your statement.