Domestic Terrorists? Not So Fast

I came across an interesting article yesterday. It was from the Canadian group Organization for World Peace. The article by Abhishek Kumar discussed the labeling of the NRA as “domestic terrorists” by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. His conclusion is that such labeling is out of place. Mind you, Kumar is no fan of the NRA and the Organization for World Peace leans left.

Kumar notes that the labeling of the NRA as a domestic terrorist group has a political, not objective, purpose. By such labeling, San Francisco sought to “subvert the political and social influence of the NRA by undermining its legitimacy.” The goal is to reduce the power of the NRA’s opposition to more gun control.

The politicisation of labelling the NRA a “domestic terrorist organisation” raises concerns regarding the subjectivity of terrorism through which personal interests seem to be unavoidable. Terrorism inherently is perceived through an accompanied political narrative, however, San Fransisco city’s ruling appears to reflect broader political and social tensions. The NRA embraces the second amendment and actively promotes gun ownership, however, this does not fit the criteria of being a ‘domestic terrorist organisation’. Following the FBI’s definition of domestic terrorism, the NRA does not promote or encourage the commission of violent crime as a result of extremist ideologies. It does, however, stand on hard-line policies in regards to gun ownership.

He goes on to add that legislative bodies should refrain from such resolutions.

Following this idea of political interests, legislative bodies should refrain from designating opposing actors as “terrorist organisations” in order to fulfil political goals and delegitimise political opponents. While increased social tensions regarding gun violence cultivate an environment to hold an individual or organisation responsible, it important to not address domestic terror attacks and weapons used to enact those attacks as a single issue.

Kumar concludes that gun ownership is a national security issue. But, he adds, the promotion of gun ownership does not make the NRA or other groups responsible for “extremist ideologies, specifically the increasing right-wing extremism.”

I doubt Kumar and I would see eye to eye on most issues including the need for more gun control. I also question the notion that “right-wing extremism” is really on the rise or is any more prevalent than that coming from the left such as Antifa. However, I do agree with him that labeling political opponents as “domestic terrorists” based on policy differences is dangerous and ought not be done.

NRA Drops Lawsuit Against San Francisco

The NRA officially dropped their lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco yesterday. The lawsuit was brought due to a resolution approved by the Board of Supervisors branding the NRA a “domestic terrorist organization”.

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(i), Plaintiff the National Rifle Association of America voluntarily dismisses without prejudice the above-entitled action against all Defendants. This notice of dismissal is being filed with the Court before service by Defendants of either an answer or a motion for summary judgment.

San Francisco, in their reply to the original complaint, contended their resolution was a “statement of policy” and “non-binding”.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Mayor London Breed had already told city staff that the measure did not limit the city’s dealings with any vendors doing business with the NRA. Stefani said her resolution was a legitimate public denunciation with no binding consequences.

At the time Mayor Breed made her statement that the resolution would not impact dealings with vendors, NRA outside counsel William Brewer III indicated that the lawsuit would continue until the the resolution was formally revoked. As of yesterday, the resolution had not been revoked but nonetheless the case was dismissed.

Both sides are now claiming victory in the lawsuit.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera issues a short statement that said:

“We’re pleased the NRA backed down on its frivolous lawsuit. This was a baseless attempt to silence San Francisco’s valid criticisms of the NRA and distract from the gun violence epidemic facing our country. San Francisco will never be intimidated by the NRA. If the NRA doesn’t want to be publicly condemned for its actions, it should stop sabotaging common sense gun safety regulations that would protect untold numbers of Americans every year, like universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and restrictions on high-capacity magazines.” 

The NRA and its attorney proclaimed victory in a multipart Twitter post:

Today the NRA withdrew its lawsuit in SF – and now celebrates the important victory it obtained on behalf of its members. As has been widely reported, after the Association challenged the unconstitutional resolution, the City beat a hasty retreat and backed down from its wildly illegal blacklisting scheme. The censors are on notice. The NRA will always fight for the Constitution, and will re-file if the City tries anything like this in the future.

So it appears that each side got a participation trophy allowing both sides to claim victory. The NRA got San Francisco to declare that the resolution was non-binding and San Francisco got the lawsuit dismissed without officially revoking the resolution.

I don’t think anyone can question that the NRA had to sue San Francisco in this case. However, I did find it interesting that the NRA didn’t use attorney Chuck Michel and his firm to handle the lawsuit. Michel and Associates has traditionally been the NRA’s go-to law firm for California related cases. Instead they used Las Vegas based Garman Turner Gordon as their attorney on the ground and Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors, as “of counsel”.