Gun Laws & Legislation

NRA President James Porter: Our right to free speech must not be buried

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By James W. Porter II, President NRA

In Barack Obama’s war on American liberty, the president is using rogue executive power to drastically limit rights guaranteed under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. His purpose is to strangle not only free speech, but the right to free association and the right to assemble. All of those elements of the First Amendment are essential to us as NRA members in preserving and protecting the Second Amendment.

What if you and I were told we could no longer use our assembled power to influence Congress or the executive branch? What if we could not act as citizens joined in a cause to protect liberty at any level of government?

What if the government sought—under threat of criminal prosecution of perjury—lists of members or contributors, Internet passwords and usernames, emails, and lists of activities of family members? What if the government then probed our personal political motives or asked what you said in your prayers?

What if the government demanded that it approve our mission to preserve and protect the Second Amendment before we could communicate our message? What if we had to provide an endless rationale for our very existence as a grassroots lobby to the government? What if information demanded by the government about us and what we believe became part of a huge big-brother database?

With government agencies corrupted by the Obama regime into political “Organs of the State,” especially the Internal Revenue Service, this is not fiction … it is not fantasy.

Although none of that has happened to the NRA—yet—that’s the nightmare for scores of conservative grassroots groups that have applied for the same non-profit grassroots tax status as the NRA.

For “progressives,” IRS not-for-profit status is granted in a virtual no-questions-asked process. Even Obama’s election campaign machine was handed near-instant non-profit status and became what the media shamelessly calls, “The president’s political arm.”

Not so with mostly pro-Second Amendment conservative groups—many of which have been waiting years for IRS consideration or approval. These individual citizens and groups have been subject to relentless interrogation about their motives and politics, along with endless demands for intrusive personal information.

The “transformation” of the IRS into a political weapon—and the administration’s stonewalling congressional efforts to expose the depth of this scandal—are just business as usual for Obama.

Claiming ignorance of the IRS political targeting scandal, President Obama feigned outrage saying he would be “holding the responsible parties accountable.” Eric Holder’s politically corrupt Justice Department opened an FBI investigation, but before any of the IRS victims were interviewed, the administration leaked there would be no criminal wrongdoing.

On top of that, America witnessed the top IRS official who supervised the scandal called before Congress only to take the Fifth Amendment—her right against self-incrimination.

As a country lawyer I know might say, “If the fox has feathers on his muzzle, it might be a clue as to where the chickens went.”

Yet President Obama blithely declared that there was “not even a smidgeon of corruption” in the IRS.

While Obama obfuscates, the IRS oppression of conservatives grew with the IRS trotting out a “regulation”—codifying its abuses to apply to existing groups like ours. For NRA, those rules are designed to shut down political speech and our right to assemble around our cause.

The Obama administration/IRS gag-rule regs would have criminalized much of what NRA does. Mention any candidate’s name for any office, local, state or federal in any context during a political blackout period before any election, and you violate the law. Even referring to legislation, say, the “Feinstein gun ban” would constitute a violation.

The regulations would have banned NRA or the Sierra Club or any non-profit from holding non-partisan voter registration, or non-partisan meet-the-candidate forums or publishing voting records.

After a huge outcry from organizations of all political stripe, the onerous speech-strangling rules were postponed until after the November 4 elections. I guarantee this threat will begin anew if Obama keeps control over his U.S. Senate majority. If he loses the Senate, his bets are off, and the First Amendment will be alive and well.

Only by exercising our free speech and free association rights to the fullest—those rights Obama would smother—can we return our nation to its guiding principles. We must organize as never before to elect a national legislature that honors and protects not just the Second Amendment, but the entire Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment.

James W. Porter II is the President of the National Rifle Association. His column appears in America’s 1st Freedom, American Rifleman and American Hunter.  Join the NRA and receive a $10 discount on your annual membership and your choice of magazine.