In it was a provision aimed squarely at groups like the NRA and other political advocacy groups known as the “gag rule.”
It prevented such groups from running ads against a candidate within 30 days of a primary or 60 days before a general election. The law went even further, stating that any mention of social or political issues that were generally tied to a candidate – something he/she might be known for – would be a violation.
If “advertisements do not urge the viewer [or listener] to vote for or against a candidate in so many words [but] they are no less clearly intended to influence the election,” the Supreme Court held it to be a violation.
Clearly the law was an unconstitutional infringement of the right to free speech, and it became obvious when the NRA was joined in its attempt to overturn the provision by several liberal groups. Unfortunately, the attempt was defeated, spawning the NRA to develop its own news media division, NRA News, since journalists were exempted from the rule. (The “gag rule” was only recently lifted in the Citizens United decision.)
The Real Lesson Here
My point is not to show how such a law can be circumvented, but by the unusual cooperation between groups who normally stand at opposite ends of the political spectrum. When it came to McCain-Feingold, they were all in agreement of the law’s unconstitutionality and, more importantly, were pragmatic in that they were going to be negatively impacted.
This was true again when the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms bill was being debated. Naturally, the media painted it as an evil plan to shield the purveyors of death (firearms manufacturers) from the results of their wares (attributing all shooting crimes to them) and cheat crime victims out of their day in court. The usual players, the NRA and GOA, naturally came out in support of the bill, but surprisingly they were joined by a large, liberal-leaning trade union who had the foresight to see that any manufacturer could be sued for the misuse of any product under such a legal theory. So, for instance, companies like Sony who make video equipment could be sued for the actions of child pornographers. Ford could be sued if one of their vehicles was used as a getaway car.
Pragmatism fueled by basic logic brought these disparate forces together to ease the passage of the bill. Both liberals and conservatives were shocked.
Sometimes Republicans and Democrats get so caught up in their politics, they forget that not every issue is completely partisan.
This is especially true of the 2nd Amendment. With a few notable exceptions on Capitol Hill, such as Michigan Democrat and staunch gun rights supporter, John Dingell, support is skimpy among the political left, yet among citizens at large, a large segment of Democrats see the basic logic of the 2nd Amendment.
Many groups break the traditional stereotype of the right-wing, Christian conservative gun lover, such as the Jewish JPFO (Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership), the gay shooters known as the Pink Pistols, and the atheist shooting club in the Detroit area known as the Godless Gunnies. These allies from the left not only “get it” where gun rights are concerned, but are vital to the success of gun rights activists to stop the erosion of those rights. Right-wing support of gun rights is not 100%, and more and more money and influence is being aligned against us, the most notable example being Michael Bloomberg (http://tiny.cc/34lfbx) and his newly purchased “Moms Demand Action ( http://tiny.cc/z5lfbx ) .”
No, nobody is asking conservatives to accept lifestyles or worldviews they find intolerable, but just like in the old science-fiction movies of old where, in the face of an alien invasion from space, former adversaries on Earth join forces to repel the attack, conservatives need to realize that gun rights advocates of all stripes need to hang together on this one issue and agree to disagree on the rest. Only by working together can we win the day. This is a war, not a battle, and it may well never end. We must take care not to become the stereotype we’re often made out to be and, instead, face our foes as a united block.
In my next installment, I’ll detail one troubling issue that should be the biggest point of agreement between gun rights advocates and anyone concerned with curbing violent crime, yet has become a chasm separating us instead. The cause: partisan politics.
Until next time, share the knowledge!
Follow Stu Chisholm on Twitter at @Djstucrew
Read his Book: Knowing Guns: The Ins & Outs of Firearms & Firearms Politics for the Uninitiated : http://tiny.cc/l6au0w
About the author:
Mobile DJ, business owner/entrepreneur and author Stu Chisholm was born in Detroit, Michigan. A columnist for the DJ industry trade magazine, Mobile Beat, Stu’s series on “DJ Security” contained a controversial segment on concealed carry and the use of guns. It was later included in, and expanded upon, in his book, “The Complete Disc Jockey,” published in 2008. Running a business and pursuing what he considers logical security measures, Stu obtained his CCW permit in the state of Michigan in the late ’90s and later became active in the gun rights movement. He joined the grass roots group MCRGO, the Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners, helping to reform Michigan’s concealed carry law in 2001. Stu remains an active DJ, writer and activist, and is currently collaborating on an upcoming science-fiction book set in Detroit’s near future. He is married to cable television producer, Janette Chisholm and lives in Roseville, Michigan.