I received the email below from the NRA-ILA on Saturday. It was sent to NRA members living in western North Carolina. They are reacting to Grass Roots North Carolina’s radio ads and mailers attacking Congressman Heath Shuler (D-NC-11) in his re-election efforts.
Shooting Straight About Congressman Heath Shuler
Dear John Richardson:
A group purporting to support the Second Amendment is either grossly misinformed or deliberately attempting to mislead voters in North Carolina’s eleventh congressional district about the record of Congressman Heath Shuler.
In their communication, they claim that Congressman Heath Shuler “brokered House passage of the misnamed DISCLOSE Act – legislation that would require gun ‘orgs’ . . . to REPORT MEMBERSHIP LISTS to the federal government . . .” In fact, Congressman Shuler filed an amendment (http://tinyurl.com/382njjf) to H.R. 5175 with the House Rules Committee to exempt all 501(C)(4) non-profit organizations that fund election activities with individual contributions from the adverse effects of this legislation. While that is not the amendment eventually adopted by the House, it was Congressman Shuler’s effort to change this legislation. It is important that you know the real story about this legislation and not be misled by others who seem to have their own agenda.
Congressman Heath Shuler tried to protect the First Amendment rights of all gun rights organizations. He has consistently voted to protect our Second Amendment rights and he has earned our endorsement and support.
On November 2, Vote Freedom First -Vote Heath Shuler for Congress!
NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION INSTITUTE FOR LEGISLATIVE ACTION
GRNC responded to this email with one of their own to their members and supporters. As I am a member of both organizations, I got both emails.
GRNC-PVF Alert 10-31-10:
NRA’s Shot in the Dark for Shuler
In defending their endorsement for HEATH SHULER, NRA lashes out at a
“group purporting to support the Second Amendment” claiming that the
unnamed organization is “either grossly misinformed or deliberately
attempting to mislead voters in North Carolina’s eleventh
congressional district about the record of Congressman Heath Shuler.”
They further state that “Congressman Heath Shuler tried to protect
the First Amendment rights of all gun rights organizations,” and that
Shuler “has consistently voted to protect our Second Amendment rights
and he has earned our endorsement and support.” Is that a fact? Well,
DISCLOSE ACT, THE FACTS
Where do we start? After finishing scratching our heads over how much
of a champion of the First Amendment (not to mention the Second
Amendment on which he has a GRNC 0% voting record) — according to the
NRA — Shuler is, the question occurs of why the NRA waited to remove
their opposition to the DISCLOSE Act until their champion Shuler
introduced an amendment with an exemption so narrow that the only
Second Amendment organization that was exempted was THEM. Of course
according to their latest communication, they are the only true
defenders of the Second Amendment and everyone else simply “purports”
to support the Second Amendment.
So, why does a congressman with a ZERO percent voting record on the
Second Amendment suddenly get a favorable rating from NRA after
cutting a deal to allow them to be the only 2A organization who is
allowed to speak without having to turn over their donor list to the
government during an election cycle?
So, what would the DISCLOSE Act do to 2A groups not fortunate enough
to have an anti-gun politician willing to go to bat for them?
Organizations such as GRNC, Gun Owners of America and CCRKBA will be
effectively banned from engaging in political debate. The demand would
be on such organizations to enumerate their donors any time they issue
any kind of campaign advocacy ad.
Along with that it also does the following:
* Bans political speech by government contractors and TARP recipients
but not unions with collective bargaining agreements with the
government or unions who receive dues from government payroll
* Imposes legally unsound limitations on coordinated communications
between federal candidates and organizations – possibly subjecting
candidates to investigations and fines for activity they don’t know
* Creates highly complex reporting requirements – unlikely to impact
unions – that would have high compliance costs and disproportionate
effects on small businesses.
* Places more stringent “stand by your ad” requirements on
organizations than candidates by forcing organization heads and top
funders to appear in ads, stating their organizations’ names up to
* Deliberately and recklessly seeks to affect the 2010 elections by
taking effect in 30 days without waiting for the FEC to issue
instructions and rules so people can follow the law and avoid criminal
and civil punishment.
GRNC and the NRA have clashed for years on the best way to advance gun rights in North Carolina. The best comparison I can give between the two organizations is that GRNC is the Tea Party movement and the NRA is the Republican establishment (even though I know that the R doesn’t stand for Republican). The former uses guerrilla tactics to wage the battle for gun rights while the latter believes in the set-piece battle. The NRA believes compromise is often needed in order to advance the cause of gun rights while GRNC finds compromise anathema. GRNC and its leadership can sometimes be intemperate in their actions while often the NRA on the state level has been temperate to the point of ineffectiveness.
A couple of weekends ago on Tom Gresham’s GunTalk radio show, Tom had Chris Cox on the show to ask him about the NRA taking all the credit for the McDonald decision (among other things). Tom didn’t think much of it and I have previously called it tacky. Cox was both very dismissive as well as defensive about it.
Chris Cox argued that the NRA was “the tip of the spear” in the battle for Second Amendment rights. He went on to say that the criticism of the NRA only helps the opponents of the Second Amendment. Cox thought the Brady Campaign and their allies will use any conflict between the NRA and other gun rights organizations as a means to hurt our Second Amendment rights. If this is truly what Chris Cox thinks, then why did he allow the organization which he heads, the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, to send out an email attacking another gun rights organization? Doesn’t this contradict what he just said should not be done?
UPDATE: For another perspective on the NRA-ILA’s actions, you should read the comments of Sebastian at the Snow Flakes in Hell blog. He may have a better perspective of the thinking of the insider’s in the NRA than I do.
As my comments on his blog makes clear, I feel the NRA comes across like a bully in this situation. By doing so, they serve to publicize and legitimize Grass Roots North Carolina. The stronger organization shouldn’t need to respond to a provocation by the smaller state organization. However, as Sebastian alludes to in his comment back to me, the GRNC attacks on Shuler may be cutting much closer to the bone than either the NRA or Shuler is comfortable with and the NRA felt they had to respond.
I wonder if similar emails have gone out in Davidson County to NRA members regarding NC House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman who is also a NRA endorsed candidate and GRNC target. Holliman, for those not familiar with NC politics, did nothing to prevent an anti-gun committee chair from bottling up a bill on the Castle Doctrine in committee.