The NRA is in serious financial difficulties, may be forced to shut down.

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Nicholas
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Re: The NRA is in serious financial difficulties, may be forced to shut down.

Post by Nicholas » 2018-08-07 08:04pm

I found this article by David French is states my position better then I ever could.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/08/ ... nt-attack/
The state has no right to threaten financial institutions that do business with the NRA.

Imagine the following scenario. Imagine the media response.

By October, the governor of Texas was fed up. A well-funded ten-month campaign by Everytown for Gun Safety designed to stigmatize gun ownership was causing support for gun rights to measurably decline. Called “You afraid?” the campaign mocked men and women who carried weapons to grocery stores or restaurants. An associated “courage” campaign asked mothers to hand back their carry licenses, and while most didn’t, the dozens who did received international media attention.

Then, two weeks before Halloween, a gunman opened fire in a Houston Walmart, and no one responded for nine agonizing minutes until police arrived. This was Texas. The store wasn’t a gun-free zone — yet not a single armed citizen was available to intervene.

The governor was furious. In public comments, he blasted Everytown, declaring — in no uncertain terms — that “gun-controllers have no place in Texas. Because that’s not who we are.” But words mean nothing without action, and the state of Texas acted. The governor directed state regulators to “urge insurers and bankers statewide to determine whether any relationship they may have with Everytown or similar organizations sends the wrong message to their clients and their communities who often look to them for guidance and support.”

Regulators responded, issuing “guidance letters” directed at the chief executive officers, or equivalents, of all Texas licensed financial institutions and all insurers doing business in Texas. The letters urged recipients to sever ties with Everytown and other “gun controller organizations.” The letters went well beyond a mere political exhortation and invoked the private corporations’ “risk management” obligations and their obligations to consider “reputational risks.”

State regulators began investigating Everytown’s business transactions in the state and coerced key vendors into consent decrees that not only punished allegedly unlawful activity but banned those vendors from engaging in entirely lawful business relationships with the gun-control organization. As state regulators moved, other commercial entities backed away — ending longstanding business relationships with Everytown.

Let me ask a simple question. If Texas acted like this — if it used state financial regulators to issue warning letters to institutions doing business with an organization unquestionably engaged in constitutionally protected advocacy — do you think for one moment that America’s mainstream media would remain silent, or speak up mainly to chuckle at Everytown’s financial predicament? Do you think for one moment that America’s leading progressives wouldn’t sense an immediate threat to free speech?

Yet the scenario above is playing out today, in a different state, with a different target. New York’s Andrew Cuomo is engaging in a deliberate campaign to use state power to drive the NRA out of business. It’s using a combination of consent decrees and warning letters directed at financial institutions to coerce them into cutting of business relationships with the NRA.

Cuomo’s intentions aren’t hidden. He’s on a crusade. “If I could have put the NRA out of business, I would have done it 20 years ago,” he said earlier this week. He followed up with this pithy statement: “I’m tired of hearing the politicians say, we’ll remember them in our thoughts and prayers. If the NRA goes away, I’ll remember the NRA in my thoughts and prayers.”

Clever. But when statements like this are accompanied by state action, there’s another word that applies — unconstitutional.

The instant that malice translates into state action aimed at speech is the instant the Constitution holds you to account.

New York’s lawyers argue that the state’s letters represent nothing more than government speech. The NRA and the state are engaged in nothing more than a frank exchange of ideas. But while the government does have broad power to engage in its own advocacy, that power has its limits. As the Second Circuit has recognized, there is a difference between “permissible expressions of personal opinion and implied threats to employ coercive State power to stifle protected speech.” When “comments of a government official can reasonably be interpreted as intimating that some form of punishment or adverse regulatory action will follow the failure to accede to the official’s request,” a First Amendment claim exists.

It simply strains credulity to argue that a financial regulator’s letter to the financial institutions it closely regulates urging those institutions to consider “risk management” when dealing with the NRA is nothing more than robust debate. Indeed, the letter at issue is explicitly phrased as offering regulatory “guidance.” The NRA also claims this “guidance” — combined with other state actions — is making corporations fear reprisals if they continue to do business with the NRA. Here’s a key claim in the NRA complaint:

On or about February 25, 2018, the Chairman of Lockton Companies, placed a distraught telephone call to the NRA. Lockton had been a close business partner of the NRA for nearly twenty years; its commitment to the parties’ business relationship had not wavered in connection with the Parkland tragedy, nor the prior Sandy Hook tragedy, nor any previous wave of public controversy relating to gun control. Nonetheless, although he expressed that Lockton privately wished to continue doing business with the NRA, the chairman confided that Lockton would need to “drop” the NRA — entirely — for fear of “losing [our] license” to do business in New York.

New York has filed a motion to dismiss the NRA’s claims, but it is imperative that New York’s actions be subject to full and fair discovery. The extent of public animus directed at the NRA, the specific “guidance” and consent decrees, and the allegations of “backroom” pressures at the very least deserve the scrutiny of civil litigation and at the very least should raise the alarm of civil libertarians — regardless of their positions on gun control.

As I’ve written many times before, the battle over gun rights has devolved into a bitter, unyielding culture war, and in a culture war, civil liberties are often the first casualty. State officials have their own free-speech rights, yes, but those free-speech rights do not include the right to use express or implied threats to wield state power against disfavored viewpoints.

Heckle all you want, Governor Cuomo. Display your malice. But the instant that malice translates into state action aimed at speech is the instant the Constitution holds you to account.

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Re: The NRA is in serious financial difficulties, may be forced to shut down.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-07 08:22pm

I agree that governments have no right to use their power to coerce companies to censor political speech. And some of the New York state government's actions appear (presuming the reporting is at all accurate) to cross that line.

However, as previously noted, the NRA's version of events is correct has yet to be proven in court. Again, I think that we should hesitate before taking the NRA's version at face value (as you appear to be doing), given their history of far-Right conspiracy theorism and how perfectly a narrative of "liberals violating the constitution to take away your guns" fits their agenda and past propaganda. I also, once again, think that it is worth noting that the NRA's actions extend well beyond advocacy for gun rights, that this all began because they broke the law, and that they appear to be asking the courts to basically prohibit any regulation of their business practices whatsoever.

This is not a clear-cut case of the NRA being the victims of censorship, even if some of the New York state government's actions cross the line.
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Re: The NRA is in serious financial difficulties, may be forced to shut down.

Post by Nicholas » 2018-08-08 07:41pm

Jub wrote:
2018-08-06 08:55pm
Nicholas wrote:
2018-08-06 08:20pm
I think that proves what the NRA is claiming. And I repeat what I said in the post you quoted. I find this worrying, if true.
If you had evidence you wouldn't have to couch things in 'if it's true' so do you have proof?
No I don't have proof that what the NRA is claiming is true and I have never intended to claim that I knew the NRA was speaking the truth. If you have heard me saying that the NRA's claims are true in this thread I retract it. My postings in this thread have been based on the following interpretation of the thread:

I saw the original post as reporting that the NRA had filed suit against New York State alleging that New York was attempting to destroy it by pressuring financial service businesses not to do business with the NRA in violation of the Rule of Law, Equality Under the Law and Freedom of Speech and responding to this by saying (not an exact quote) "I don't know if this is true but I hope it is because I want to see the NRA destroyed." I have responded to that by arguing that, "if the NRA's claims are true this is a large problem because we don't want the government acting in violation of the the Rule of Law, Equality Under the Law and Freedom of Speech."

Thus I see the argument as being about the principle of whether or not repugnant groups are protected from government persecution by the Constitution and Rule of Law or not. The truth of the NRA's claims is not relevant to this argument.
As regards the rest of your post. When you say "no business is forced to serve an organization they don't want to serve" you are flat out wrong regarding US law. Anti-discrimination laws routinely require businesses to serve people and organizations they don't want to serve. As do the common carrier laws that regulate railroads, buses, airlines, cruise ships and ISPs (until Trump reversed Obama's decision to include them).
This isn't covered by any of that and even under the current laws you can refuse service on the grounds that providing that service is detrimental to their business, though in some cases that would need to go through the courts.
You started out by saying that "no business is forced to serve an organization they don't want to serve." I responded by citing examples where that happens. You answer "this isn't covered by any of that." Since I implicitly acknowledged that in my next line and you appear to have conceded that the examples I cited are valid refutations of your initial point. I accept your concession and believe we are in agreement.
That error is not actually relevant though since the claim is that the government is pressuring these business not to serve the NRA. If that is true it is a profound violation of the rule of law and equality under the law and innocent until proven guilty. How can you not find it worrying?
I don't find it worrying because the NRA was breaking the law with the service they wished to provide and got smacked down for it. Do the crime, face the backlash.
There are two separate issues here. The first issue is the NRA's Carry Guard program where New York State prosecuted the NRA and the insurance companies that worked with it to offer this program in accord with established law and issued punishments for illegal conduct. As for as I can tell the NRA is not disputed that this prosecution was conducted in accord with the law and I have never objected to the NRA being prosecuted for illegal activity.

The second issue is New York State acting outside the established legal procedures for prosecuting criminal activity and using its regulatory authority to pressure business not to do business with the NRA. This is not backlash as a result of a crime this is straight up illegal conduct by the state government of New York, quite possibly for the purpose of suppressing its political opponents. I know that hasn't been proven, but if it is true, are you OK with it?

Nicholas

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Re: The NRA is in serious financial difficulties, may be forced to shut down.

Post by Nicholas » 2018-08-08 07:42pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-07 08:22pm
I agree that governments have no right to use their power to coerce companies to censor political speech. And some of the New York state government's actions appear (presuming the reporting is at all accurate) to cross that line.

However, as previously noted, the NRA's version of events is correct has yet to be proven in court. Again, I think that we should hesitate before taking the NRA's version at face value (as you appear to be doing), given their history of far-Right conspiracy theorism and how perfectly a narrative of "liberals violating the constitution to take away your guns" fits their agenda and past propaganda. I also, once again, think that it is worth noting that the NRA's actions extend well beyond advocacy for gun rights, that this all began because they broke the law, and that they appear to be asking the courts to basically prohibit any regulation of their business practices whatsoever.

This is not a clear-cut case of the NRA being the victims of censorship, even if some of the New York state government's actions cross the line.
I agree.

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Re: The NRA is in serious financial difficulties, may be forced to shut down.

Post by MKSheppard » 2018-08-09 04:07pm

Meanwhile, the enemy within at the NRA:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKBN1KQ09H

Hardline U.S. 'gundamentalists' pressure NRA from within
Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) - About 100 protesters, many wearing T-shirts emblazoned with “NRA = Not Real Activists,” marched through the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Dallas in May to slam the powerful gun lobby as too conciliatory on gun rights and rally for their candidate for the board.

Adam Kraut, a gun rights lawyer, fell about 4,000 votes short of the 71,000 needed for election, but earned 5,000 more than the previous year, a sign of the growth of the Second Amendment purists within the NRA known to many as “gundamentalists.”

With opinion polls showing U.S. public support for more gun control growing in the wake of mass shootings in recent years, the NRA is facing internal pressure from this little-known force that is demanding that the leadership concede zero ground to gun-control advocates.

Its rise has rattled the NRA leadership and threatens the association’s ability to hold on to moderate supporters and to make compromises that might help fend off tougher gun control measures, according to some of the two dozen gun-rights activists, policy experts and gun-control advocates interviewed for this story.

“Generally, they have a disproportionately huge amount of power in the gun-rights movement,” said Richard Feldman, a former NRA lobbyist.

The NRA has faced divisions before. An internal revolt at the 1977 meeting in Cincinnati turned the polite, sport-shooting organization into a bare-knuckled political lobby that today claims five million members and is closely aligned with the Republican Party, funding pro-gun politicians. The NRA, which spent $30 million to support Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, is often viewed by gun-control advocates as implacably opposed to tighter gun laws.

The NRA leadership has put up obstacles to Kraut’s election, both with bylaws that make it harder for candidates not put forward by the nominating committee to get elected to the board, and by enlisting a senior member to campaign against him.

Marion Hammer, a past president of the NRA and one of the group’s most successful lobbyists, denounced unsanctioned candidates in a column on the website Ammoland just as Kraut appeared on the 2018 ballot. Though Hammer did not name Kraut, he was one of only two non-approved candidates to run.

“Once again the NRA is being threatened by the enemy within,” Hammer wrote. “It is time to wake up and stop it before it begins.”

Neither the NRA nor Hammer responded to requests to address the influence of the gundamentalists and the criticism that these activists and other gun-rights groups directed at the lobby.

SOCIAL MEDIA PRESSURE

The Dallas protesters, almost all white men, included bearded outdoorsmen and buttoned-down libertarians. Some said they hid their T-shirts while entering the conventional hall for fear that NRA security would ban them.

Kraut, 31, who says he grew up in a house without guns but as an adult taught his father how to shoot, practices firearms law in suburban Philadelphia and also hosts a video blog called The Legal Brief on The Gun Collective, a YouTube channel.

He has campaigned for the NRA to push for even more expansive gun-rights laws. He wants to change NRA bylaws, such as imposing term limits for board members and mandatory meeting attendance, to renew its leadership.

“Some members feel it (the NRA) doesn’t go far enough to defend what we believe to be the core of the Second Amendment,” Kraut told Reuters.

One of Kraut’s most prominent supporters, Tim Harmsen, who led the pro-Kraut march through the convention center, has 770,000 subscribers to the Military Arms Channel on YouTube, where he criticizes the NRA for being weak on gun laws.

“We’re going to continue to apply pressure (on the NRA) every way that we can through social media and we’ll be there again next year,” Harmsen said.

These hardliners deeply cherish their right under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment to keep and bear arms. They oppose any form of gun control, saying criminals will find ways around gun laws, which only strip lawful gun owners of the right to self-defense and protection against state tyranny.

The gun-rights purists are outraged by any concessions the NRA makes in the wake of mass shootings, even if they are made to avoid stricter gun control laws. Opinion polls such as a regular Gallup survey show growing support for gun control in recent years. Within that trend, support for gun control typically spikes immediately after mass shootings, then falls closer to pre-massacre levels within a few months.

After a shooter killed 58 people at a country music concert in Las Vegas last year, the NRA supported federal regulation of bump stocks, accessories that the gunman used to fire his semiautomatic rifles more quickly. The Justice Department then ordered an effective ban that is close to being finalized.

Amid nationwide protests that followed a Florida high school shooting that killed 17 people in February, the NRA endorsed strengthening background checks for gun purchasers and emergency protection orders that allow law-enforcement officials to temporarily take guns away from people deemed dangerous.

“For us, some of the things that come out of NRA headquarters are just outrageous and abhorrent,” said Jeff Knox, a Kraut supporter whose father, Neal Knox, led the “Revolt at Cincinnati” in 1977. “It’s: Holy cow, what are these guys thinking?”

Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Dina Kyriakidou and Frances Kerry.
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Re: The NRA is in serious financial difficulties, may be forced to shut down.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-09 04:09pm

Proof that no matter how hard-line you are, there's always someone crazier.
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Re: The NRA is in serious financial difficulties, may be forced to shut down.

Post by MKSheppard » 2018-08-09 04:19pm

No actually, TRR.....

There's a good low level insurgency brewing in the gun rights movement; because well.....Millennials, both early (1981-x) and late (1991-x) are changing things up as they become politically active; while the "old guard" of Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox continue to fuck things up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3b9UdThFS8Q
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KatYW_gN4j8

Cody Wilson is one other aspect of the new face of gun activism.
"If scientists and inventors who develop disease cures and useful technologies don't get lifetime royalties, I'd like to know what fucking rationale you have for some guy getting lifetime royalties for writing an episode of Full House." - Mike Wong

"The present air situation in the Pacific is entirely the result of fighting a fifth rate air power." - U.S. Navy Memo - 24 July 1944

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Re: The NRA is in serious financial difficulties, may be forced to shut down.

Post by MKSheppard » 2018-08-09 04:27pm

The NRA's post Vegas stance on Bumpstocks pissed off a lot of people, because the NRA unintentionally opened a backdoor to banning semiautomatic weapons of all types (handguns/rifles/shotguns), in their haste to try and shut off "simulated machine guns" (NOTE: NRA has never liked machine guns, going back to 1934).

Reason?

https://www.everydaynodaysoff.com/2010/ ... chine-gun/

Image

In September 2004 the ATF decided that a 14 inch long shoestring was considered a machine gun

Image

A more modern AK pattern with paracord and a carabiner doing this trick:
IMG

Then there's the famous Sicario 2 scene of a Beretta 92 being bump fired with del Toro's finger.

Image

If you had a 92 and lots of time to practice, you could pull that off.
"If scientists and inventors who develop disease cures and useful technologies don't get lifetime royalties, I'd like to know what fucking rationale you have for some guy getting lifetime royalties for writing an episode of Full House." - Mike Wong

"The present air situation in the Pacific is entirely the result of fighting a fifth rate air power." - U.S. Navy Memo - 24 July 1944

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Re: The NRA is in serious financial difficulties, may be forced to shut down.

Post by MKSheppard » 2018-08-27 06:38pm

ACLU is now backing NRA in this case.

I guess because they realize that if this goes through, it creates precedent for say, Texas, Kentucky, et al to choke off things the right does not like through financial services targeting. (can we say abortion clinics?)
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Re: The NRA is in serious financial difficulties, may be forced to shut down.

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-27 06:55pm

MKSheppard wrote:
2018-08-27 06:38pm
ACLU is now backing NRA in this case.

I guess because they realize that if this goes through, it creates precedent for say, Texas, Kentucky, et al to choke off things the right does not like through financial services targeting. (can we say abortion clinics?)
A very strange pairing and an indication that there may be -something- to the NRA's story, otherwise the ACLU probably wouldn't go to the extent of actually joining the case on the NRA's side.

And yeah, that is definitely a tactic to legitimately worry about if the precedent is created. It doesn't have to be abortion clinics; it could be, say, charities providing voter-registration services, charities that represent a cause that someone in the government doesn't like, LGBTQ organizations, etc... so the implications are rather broad.
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Re: The NRA is in serious financial difficulties, may be forced to shut down.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-28 02:31pm

Indeed.

Much as I am loath to admit it, it does sound like Cuomo probably overreached significantly here. Which ultimately likely won't help the gun control cause, as he will either get slapped down in the courts and lose, or will set a precedent that the Right will turn right back against us. And either way, it'll give fuel to the "BIG GUV'MINT ARE COMING TO TAKE YUR GUNS AND FREEDOMS" crowd.

I'm sympathetic to the goal, but there's a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it.
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Re: The NRA is in serious financial difficulties, may be forced to shut down.

Post by TheFeniX » 2018-08-28 03:44pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-08-27 06:55pm
A very strange pairing and an indication that there may be -something- to the NRA's story, otherwise the ACLU probably wouldn't go to the extent of actually joining the case on the NRA's side.
There's nothing all that strange about it as it's happened before and the ACLU is about equal rights and what not. While they have supported multiple gun control measures, they are not gun grabbers, especially when those gun grabs are shit like "well, let's just register anyone with 'mental illness' as unfit to own a firearm" when the definition of "mental illness" is over-broad.

In this case, no matter the politics: the ACLU (at least in my recent memory) isn't big on government bullying people it doesn't like.

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Re: The NRA is in serious financial difficulties, may be forced to shut down.

Post by MKSheppard » 2018-08-30 05:53pm

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/201 ... nally.html
Who Does the ACLU Fight For?
An internal clash over the civil-liberty group’s decision to defend the NRA shows how the organization is transforming.
By MARK JOSEPH STERN

AUG 27, 20187:24 PM

Shortly before the American Civil Liberties Union filed a brief in support of the National Rifle Association on Friday, David Cole, the ACLU’s national legal director, sent out a short email to staff. Cole explained that he felt that New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo had “explicitly target[ed] the NRA” based on its “constitutionally protected political advocacy” by advising banks and insurers not to do business with the pro-gun group. “If the state can penalize gun promotion advocacy groups by threatening their service providers,” Cole continued, “it can do the same to other groups”—including Black Lives Matter. Thus, the ACLU had decided to urge the courts to “carefully scrutinize” whether Cuomo has tried to unconstitutionally punish the NRA based on “hostility to [its] viewpoint.”

Within hours, the organizationwide listserv had lit up. Staffers at both the national office and state affiliates wrote back to register their frustration with Cole’s decision. The ACLU of New York sent out a statement on Monday explaining why it had declined to support the national office’s position. Some attorneys vigorously defended the group’s brief; others cautiously endorsed it, while complaining that its authors had failed to seek input from other stakeholders before committing to a contentious stance. Privately, some litigators fumed, concerned that the organization had needlessly tarnished its reputation by devoting limited resources to help the NRA, a formidable lobbying group with the means to defend itself.

Friday’s brief marks the third time in about a year that the ACLU has come to the defense of conservative expression and incurred backlash among its own staffers. That fallout illustrates a fierce dispute within the organization over who deserves its aid during this violent moment in American history, as a resurgence of xenophobia and racism threatens vulnerable people across the country. The rift is not only a conflict over resource allocation or bad publicity. It is a fight over the true definition of civil libertarianism in the Trump era. In the fierce backlash to the NRA decision, those who favor standing up for the marginalized—while letting the powerful fight their own battles—seem to be winning.

The ACLU’s decision to fight for the NRA’s free expression would appear to be at odds with its ostensible shift in priorities.
In one sense, the internal debate over the NRA brief shows the ACLU at its best. In line with its free-speech credo, the organization tolerates and even fosters a commendable amount of dissent in its ranks. “We not only take great pride in the diversity of our employees, but also the diversity of their own viewpoints and opinions,” Cole told me. So, on Monday, with Cole’s assent, three members of the New York Civil Liberties Union sent a companywide email explaining why they did not join the NRA brief and urged the national office not to file it. The email—which was signed by Art Eisenberg, legal director; Chris Dunn, associate legal director; and Donna Lieberman, executive director—laid out a series of key objections.

First, Eisenberg, Dunn, and Lieberman asserted that the NRA case does not “present any novel legal issue” worthy of the ACLU’s attention. Instead, it “turns on a fact-intensive inquiry” regarding information that is “deeply contested.” The lawsuit alleges that Cuomo penalized the NRA by exhorting insurers and financial institutions to cut ties with the group because of its pro-gun advocacy. But the state has been investigating the NRA’s Carry Guard insurance products, which indemnify members who fire guns in self-defense, since 2017. In 2018, the New York Department of Financial Services fined Lockton Affinity, the company that administered Carry Guard, $7 million for illegally covering criminal shootings and operating without a license. It also fined Chubb, the insurance giant that underwrote Carry Guard, $1.3 million for financing these unlawful practices.

If Cuomo really implored financial institutions to drop the NRA because he dislikes the group’s pro-gun expression, then he violated the First Amendment by retaliating against political speech. If, on the other hand, he issued his warning because the NRA was engaged in financial wrongdoing, then his actions were perfectly lawful. The Carry Guard fines, which ended in settlements from both Lockton Affinity and Chubb, point toward the latter possibility.

Eisenberg, Dunn, and Lieberman argued that they “suspect [the NRA] has contrived a First Amendment legal claim for its own political purposes.”

Second, Eisenberg, Dunn, and Lieberman noted that the NRA “has enormous resources and is fully able to present its First Amendment claim” and litigate the case. They further contend that, in light of the ACLU’s own “limited resources,” the organization should “distinguish between groups—like the NRA—that have enormous resources at their disposal” and those that do not, such as Black Lives Matter. They added that “we are mindful of the impact that defending the NRA may have on our work with important allies.”

A number of staffers made this final point in starker terms, directly criticizing Cole’s analogy between BLM and the NRA. One litigator at a state affiliate wrote to the listserv: “While I do respect the reasons others posit for taking this case on, I don’t respect the continued refusal of privileged decision-makers to recognize how deeply problematic it is to use BLM as a shield for actions that support white supremacy, particularly [from] an organization that enjoys the immense level of privilege we do.”

Another attorney at a state affiliate also argued that BLM was being used as a “shield” and added, “Comparing BLM to the NRA is a false equivalence. Show me one BLM rally/march/protest where a bunch of people of color are allowed to run around with guns hoisted on their hips.” Cole told me he did not mean to “equate the NRA and BLM” but rather to point out that “if a governor can get away with this against a well-resourced group like the NRA, then groups with fewer resources, like BLM, could also be targeted.”

The ACLU has struggled with this problem before. In August 2017, it helped white nationalists secure a permit to hold an armed demonstration at a downtown Charlottesville park. After white-nationalist demonstrators attacked counterprotesters and a man with ties to neo-Nazi groups allegedly killed Heather Heyer with his car, the ACLU was condemned for supporting the free-speech rights of the white supremacist rallygoers. Myriad ACLU members lodged complaints about the incident, and the organization decided to stop representing protesters who planned to carry loaded firearms. That same month, the ACLU defended white-supremacist troll Milo Yiannopoulos’ right to advertise his book on D.C.’s metro system. In response, staff attorney Chase Strangio issued a sharp statement denouncing his organization’s involvement.

Strangio was one of the first ACLU attorneys in the listserv discussion to dispute Cole’s characterization of the NRA case, writing that “a comparison between the NRA and BLM fails to account for the very different ways these groups face discrimination and violence and access power.” On Monday, he told me that “I am always questioning who has access to power and am wary of any suggestion that somehow a principled defense of the powerful will benefit the disempowered. I just have not seen our system work that way.”

Most of the ACLU staff members I spoke with echoed Strangio’s belief that by rushing to aid the NRA, the organization had failed to learn the lessons of last year. “The events of Charlottesville prompted a long-overdue internal discussion about how to balance our First Amendment advocacy with our work advancing other constitutional principles, like equal protection, and serving coalitions working with marginalized communities,” one ACLU attorney told me. “In that context, this decision feels like a step backward.” A state affiliate attorney told me that “our choices reflect little understanding of how power and privilege work in the real world.”

The ACLU had, in fact, previously moved toward incorporating what one staff attorney described as “power analysis” into its free speech litigation. In June, the Wall Street Journal published a leaked internal memo that sought to address potential “conflicts” between the organization’s “values and priorities.” In choosing which cases to take, the memo said, ACLU attorneys would consider structural power dynamics as well as the impact of the “proposed speech” on “marginalized communities” and the extent to which the speech may advance views that “are contrary to our values.”

The ACLU’s decision to fight for the NRA’s free expression would appear to be at odds with its ostensible shift in priorities. At bottom, the quarrel over Friday’s amicus brief is a debate over what civil libertarianism means in 2018. Does it require absolute fidelity to neutral principles like freedom of speech? Or does it require certain principles to yield in the face of renewed and devastating daily assaults on the equal-protection rights of marginalized groups across the country? The ACLU has long boasted that it defended Nazis in the 1970s. At the time, American Nazis seemed like vile but mostly harmless bigots. Today, both the president and his allies have embraced key elements of their white-supremacist ideology to varying degrees. And modern racists are able to demonstrate—and commit mass murder—with a terrifying arsenal of firearms, thanks in large part to laws promoted by the NRA.

“In the real world,” an ACLU litigator wrote on the listserv on Friday, “where our black allies live all the time, the single thing that is most impeding the speech of vulnerable communities is the fear of violence and targeting … every single day, everywhere.” The NRA has contributed to that horrific reality, helping to create an epidemic of gun violence that has disproportionately affected communities of color. Does the ACLU have an obligation to defend the NRA’s speech when that speech contributes to the oppression of communities whose lives and liberty the ACLU strives to safeguard? A growing number of civil libertarians in Donald Trump’s America have concluded that it does not. And as widespread pushback over the NRA brief proves, the ACLU may soon abandon its adherence to formal neutrality—and adopt a vision of liberty that openly favors the oppressed over the oppressors.
"If scientists and inventors who develop disease cures and useful technologies don't get lifetime royalties, I'd like to know what fucking rationale you have for some guy getting lifetime royalties for writing an episode of Full House." - Mike Wong

"The present air situation in the Pacific is entirely the result of fighting a fifth rate air power." - U.S. Navy Memo - 24 July 1944

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MKSheppard
Ruthless Genocidal Warmonger
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Re: The NRA is in serious financial difficulties, may be forced to shut down.

Post by MKSheppard » 2018-08-30 05:58pm

Money quote:
The NRA has contributed to that horrific reality, helping to create an epidemic of gun violence that has disproportionately affected communities of color. Does the ACLU have an obligation to defend the NRA’s speech when that speech contributes to the oppression of communities whose lives and liberty the ACLU strives to safeguard? A growing number of civil libertarians in Donald Trump’s America have concluded that it does not.
:lol: I really wish someone would break down the reality of crime guns in communities of color [tm].
"If scientists and inventors who develop disease cures and useful technologies don't get lifetime royalties, I'd like to know what fucking rationale you have for some guy getting lifetime royalties for writing an episode of Full House." - Mike Wong

"The present air situation in the Pacific is entirely the result of fighting a fifth rate air power." - U.S. Navy Memo - 24 July 1944

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Elheru Aran
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Re: The NRA is in serious financial difficulties, may be forced to shut down.

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-30 06:12pm

MKSheppard wrote:
2018-08-30 05:58pm
Money quote:
The NRA has contributed to that horrific reality, helping to create an epidemic of gun violence that has disproportionately affected communities of color. Does the ACLU have an obligation to defend the NRA’s speech when that speech contributes to the oppression of communities whose lives and liberty the ACLU strives to safeguard? A growing number of civil libertarians in Donald Trump’s America have concluded that it does not.
:lol: I really wish someone would break down the reality of crime guns in communities of color [tm].
Why don't you?
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.

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