NRA's right wing attack dogs have been having quite a time this past week trying to weave a web of deception designed to discredit me and the leadership of the American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA). In my recent diaries at Daily Kos (here and here), I have carefully laid out how AHSA, a new progressive gun rights organization, tapped into the concern of rural hunters and shooters over NRA's failure to address access to public land and environmental issues resulting in a stunning NRA defeat in the hotly contested 2006 Missouri US Senate race. I'm sure many Kos readers were as surprised as I was that NRA, once again, acknowledged AHSA's campaign made the difference for Claire McCaskill in that key 2006 Senate race.
Now, in the second attempt in a week to deflect attention away from their own failures, NRA tries again to label AHSA as anti-gun. They use the tired old "guilt by association" game to argue that AHSA is not serious about gun rights or protecting our hunting and shooting heritage. Moreover, they feign surprise that some rational and reasonable gun owners would describe ultra-conservative NRA lapdogs as "whackos".
I, like many progressive hunters and shooters, have supported many leading Democrats who the NRA has tried to demonized and defeat. I have also supported Democrats that the NRA has supported. That doesn't mean I am anti-gun, it means I spend my political dollars wisely to support those progressive candidates that I believe, on balance, will make America a better place to live. NRA has a hard time accepting the fact that the overwhelming number of candidates the NRA supports, mostly Republicans, may be good on gun rights, but universally are the worst of the worst on preserving our precious resources and protecting our hunting heritage.
NRA lackeys go after Bob Ricker, AHSA co-founder and Executive Director who has a reputation as one of the nation's top gun policy experts. A former assistant NRA general counsel and top lobbyist for the gun industry, Bob stepped forward a few years ago and went public about the NRA/gun industry conspiracy of silence and their refusal to address the problem of corrupt gun dealers who sell guns to criminals. NRA has long had it out for Bob after he was quoted in the New York Times as saying someone in the gun industry needed to speak up about bad dealers because ''we've got a bunch of right-wing wackos at the N.R.A. controlling everything.''
I can remember when I got my first gun as a kid growing up in Texas. The NRA was a respected hunting and gun safety institution. Over the last twenty years however, the organization has changed dramatically. Their leaders call our first responders "jack booted thugs"; they fight efforts to restrict armor piercing handgun ammunition that threaten cops; they oppose background checks on all sales at gun shows; they opposed voluntary industry efforts to provide free child safety locks with all new guns sold; they oppose efforts to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists; they want to repeal restrictions on keeping guns out of bars and restaurants when liquor is served; they want to force employers to allow guns in the work place; they oppose efforts of our nation's big city mayor's to stop illegal gun traffickers; and, incredibly, they want to criminalize efforts by law enforcement to share crime gun trace information. This is just a short list that more than justifies labels like "right wing whackos."
The final absurdity of NRA's new attack involves the accusation that somehow the friend of the court brief AHSA filed in the landmark US Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller, is nothing more than an "opportunity to create false pro-gun credentials" for AHSA.
The AHSA brief was co-signed 11 senior military leaders and was written by the national powerhouse law firm Greenberg Taurig. We argue that that the District of Columbia's Gun Law directly interferes with various Acts of Congress that are aimed at ensuring the national defense by promoting firearm training amongst the citizenry. AHSA believes the D.C. Gun Law's categorical prohibition on pistol ownership by D.C. residents not only conflicts with the Second Amendment and the Defense, Raise and Support Clauses of the Constitution, but also with the District of Columbia Home Rule Act.
Using tortured logic, NRA claims in its hit piece that AHSA's argument, if adopted by the Court is an under handed attempt to make it easier for states to pass more restrictive gun laws. How absurd.
NRA, as usual, fails to mention that several other amicus briefs filed in support of the lower court decision rely on arguments similar to AHSA's. Including the briefs signed by Dick Cheney and members of congress and a brief filed by a number of state rifle and pistol associations. Most importantly, Wayne LaPierre's attack dogs failed to mention NRA's devious attempt to scuttle the Heller case in its early stages.There is a good reason why NRA is not leading the fight in the most important 2nd Amendment case to reach the US Supreme Court in over 70 years. According to Robert Levy, the millionaire Cato Institute Scholar that is bankrolling Heller, NRA interference almost killed the case. Levy's assertion were confirmed when LaPierre acknowledged NRA backhanded efforts in the New York Times on December 3, 2007:
In other words, Wayne was worried that the NRA might win in the appellate court but it could become a "problem" if the DC gun ban case reached the Supreme Court. My question is: A problem for whom? DC gun owners or future NRA fundraising appeals?
There was a real dispute on our side among constitutional scholars about whether there was a majority of justices on the Supreme Court who would support the constitution as written.
People who know me know that I do not tolerate bullies. In my day, there were plenty of players in the NFL that tried to play the role of bully and more times than not when challenged with a quick, solid counter punch, their true nature as cowards would show through. The current NRA is run by bullies and I've laid down the challenge. Come on Wayne, are you man enough to meet me in the duck blind to prove who is a real hunter and shooter?