David Keene, NRA First Vice-President On H.R. 5175

David Keene, NRA First Vice-President On H.R. 5175

National Rifle Association
ational Rifle Association

Washington, DC –-(Ammoland.com)- I have been an NRA Board member for some years and currently serve as NRA’s First Vice-President — that you may know.

What you may not know is that I have been in the forefront of the fight against liberal attempts to tilt the political playing field their way for decades through what they like to call campaign finance reform.

This is a battle that began in the seventies when I put together the case that went to the United States Supreme Court known as Buckley v. Valeo. I was a vocal opponent of the so-called McCain-Feingold “reforms” that shackled groups like the NRA in recent years, and I have served as a First Amendment Fellow at Vanderbilt University’s Freedom Forum.

I can assure you that I would never countenance a “deal” of the sort you think the NRA made with Congress to further Democratic attempts to restrict political speech. I consider such restrictions to be not only repugnant, but blatantly unconstitutional, an opinion shared by NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and Institute for Legislative Action Executive Director Chris Cox.

The so-called “DISCLOSE ACT” is a horrible piece of legislation designed to do exactly what you suggest. It would require advocacy groups to run a regulatory gauntlet designed to make it very difficult for many of them to play the role for which they were formed and is both bad policy and flies in the face of recent Supreme Court decisions.

But I’m afraid there’s more . particularly how it would affect the NRA. When you think of the NRA you no doubt think mostly about the NRA’s advocacy on Second Amendment issues, but the NRA also provides training to its members, law enforcement and military personnel, works with states, counties and private organizations to build ranges and runs competitive events such as those at Camp Perry in Ohio. Since Camp Perry is a military base, public monies go into range development and federal funds go to training military and police personnel, the NRA would be classed with government contractors and TARP recipients under the DISCLOSE ACT as originally written and effectively prohibited from engaging in any meaningful political activity.

In other words, this act as originally written by anti-gun legislators like New York Senator Chuck Schumer would have silenced the NRA .which would have been the death knell for the Second Amendment.

NRA has one major mission . to defend the right of its members and all Americans to Keep & Bear Arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Therefore, the NRA served notice on Congress that since the act threatened our very existence, we were prepared to do anything and everything that might be required to defeat it unless it was changed so that we could continue to represent the views of our members in the public arena. The letter, sent on May 26, was public. The NRA did not engage in back room shenanigans, but told Congressional leaders quite clearly that we would do whatever we needed to do to protect the rights of our members and our ability to defend the Second Amendment.

Last week Democratic leadership in the House capitulated by agreeing to exempt the NRA from the act — not in return for NRA support, but to avoid a political war that might cost them even more seats this fall.

I have to tell you that I never thought the Democrats would agree to this — not because they have much regard for constitutional rights — because I didn’t believe their left wing would allow it. The events since their capitulation convince me that their fear of NRA retaliation forced them to take steps that split their coalition and could easily doom the whole bill.

Consider this: on Thursday night, California Senator Diane Feinstein, one of the most anti-Second Amendment members of the Senate, announced that she wouldn’t support the DISCLOSE ACT if it exempted the NRA. By Friday some two-dozen left wing activist groups that had previously been pressing Congress to pass the bill announced that now they wanted it defeated.

The bottom line is that in refusing to risk its members’ rights and the very survival of the Second Amendment, the NRA has also made it less rather than more likely that support for this terrible legislation will collapse and the free speech rights of every one of us will benefit

Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. Four million members strong, NRA continues its mission to uphold Second Amendment rights and to advocate enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation’s leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the military. Visit: www.nra.org

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Jack Vancouver

My NRA membership comes up for renewal in October. If Wayne LaPierre is on the NRA payroll at that time I will NOT renew. His sellout on the DISCLOSE ACT #5175 that just passed the U.S. House is inexcusable. He had the muscle to defeat the bill but carved out an exception for the NRA and saddled everyone else with onerous, unconstitutional provisions that may will protect the Democrat majorities in November. The best protection for the Second Amendment is a unencumbered First Amendment. I hope Pete Brownell, who is an NRA Director, is seeing these comments as the Directors… Read more »

Terri Siddons

My husband is a member of the NRA, and every single week we get at least one piece of mail asking for money. It's usually some kind of legislative or political action funds request. You can bet that we won't be giving another dime now that we know that the NRA has waffled on what we believed was its commitment to the constitution, the rule of law, and to the protection of our contitutional rights. Passage of 5175 shredded the first amendment. How can the NRA claim to be unequivocally committed to the 2nd amendment (their SINGLE issue) if they… Read more »


I want gun control laws repealed not strengthened or upheld, when will the NRA start supporting that effort?

In Illinois the NRA actually supported a bill that allows the Illinois State police to qualify for a federal grant to upgrade their background check system.

Plus they played games by declaring a neutral position on HB5832 thus allowing HB5832 to pass strengthening of the FOID card law. Now if your caught with a loaded gun in Illinois without a valid FOID card its NOW a mandatory 1-3 years in prison.

I think the NRA leadership should be arrested for treason.

Larry Ray

I agree with J. Ladds comment. You can rest assured that if HR 5175 passes, my membership in the NRA is history. I never thought it was possible, but the NRA has been bought off. This really sucks! It's a sure bet the Democraps cooked the whole thing up as a trap for the NRA, and they walked into it right down the primrose path. I hate compromise in any form and this whole thing positively reeks of it. "We'll exempt you from our provisions if you'll agree not to fight against them"…..

Larry Ray Wyoming

Jeffrey Allen Ladd

Sorry boys, but I have to side with Tom Davis (above). I, too heard the pathetic, bedwetting arguements put forth by our very own Wayne LaPierre on Laura Ingraham's radio show today. I was insulted that he thought he could blow smoke past me. Does this loose quote ring a bell with either of you? (La Pierre and Keene) "All that evil needs to prevail is for good men to be silent"….. Shame on you both. Perhaps you were still "thanking" Harry Reed for the firing range outside of Phoenix. Do you think you can trust Reed? I guess you'll… Read more »

R D Boyles

Those who think the NRA should have no political voice seem to be liberals who have no sense of value of the Constitution, especially the 2nd and 1st Amendments. Without the NRA's continued endeavor to protect our gun rights we would have, long ago been forced to surrender our firearms( just what liberals want). Silence the NRA and subsequently, as time goes on, you will also be silenced. The above article tells me that the liberals, realizing the NRA will, as always fight the Disclose Act, capitulated and elected to inform the NRA that they will be exempted, i.e., no… Read more »

Curtis Seen

You must be nieve. Over the years the majority of politicians that have gone head to head in oposition to the NRA have been voted out. As for the Democrats being aganist the constitution. What hole or planet have you have been on. It has been obvious that the Obama circus has assumed power, he has done everything possible to trample on the constitution! He has stated the constitution is an out of date document. He has succeded in grabbing all the power he can. He has said often the only institutions who should owen arms are the police and… Read more »

tom davis

And another thing! Who do you think you are fooling? "I have to tell you that I never thought the Democrats would agree to this – not because they have much regard for constitutional rights – because I didn’t believe their left wing would allow it. The events since their capitulation convince me that their fear of NRA retaliation forced them to take steps that split their coalition and could easily doom the whole bill." Democrat office holders aren't afraid of the NRA or anything else short of a lynch mob. They don't want to see campaign finance reform or… Read more »

tom davis

I am a NRA member and political conservative. More so than David Keene and Wayne LaPierre, it would seem. Rather than hide behind obfuscating rhetoric and double-talking, two-faced political spin, I will state plainly my position. Disclosure of the identity and political affiliation of purveyors of political commentary is perfectly reasonable. Only sneaks and thieves try to hide. Further, the first and fifth amendments, indeed all the amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights, express and detail individual rights, not the rights of corporations, unions, clubs or other associations. To attribute such rights to such entities would be to endow… Read more »