NRA statement on DoJ Parker brief
It didn't take them long to react!
Statement of the National Rifle Association by Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox on the
pending U.S. Supreme Court case:
In the coming months, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality
of Washington, D.C.'s ban on handgun ownership and self-defense in law-abiding
residents' homes. The Court will first address the question of whether the Second
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as embodied in the Bill of Rights, protects
the rights of individuals or a right of the government. If the Court agrees that
this is an individual right, they will then determine if D.C.'s self-defense
and handgun bans are constitutional.
The position of the National Rifle Association is clear. The Second Amendment protects
the fundamental, individual right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms for any
lawful purpose. Further, any law infringing this freedom, including a ban on self-defense
and handgun ownership, is unconstitutional and provides no benefit to curbing crime.
Rather, these types of restrictions only leave the law-abiding more susceptible
to criminal attack.
The U.S. Government, through its Solicitor General, has filed an amicus brief in
this case. We applaud the government's recognition that the Second Amendment
protects a fundamental, individual right that is "central to the preservation
of liberty." The brief also correctly recognizes that the D.C. statutes ban
"a commonly-used and commonly-possessed firearm in a way that has no grounding
in Framing-era practice," the Second Amendment applies to the District of Columbia,
is not restricted to service in a militia and secures the natural right of self-defense.
However, the government's position is also that a "heightened" level
of judicial scrutiny should be applied to these questions. The National Rifle Association
believes that the Court should use the highest level of scrutiny in reviewing the
D.C. gun ban. We further believe a complete ban on handgun ownership and self-defense
in one's own home does not pass ANY level of judicial scrutiny. Even the government
agrees that "the greater the scope of the prohibition and its impact on private
firearm possession, the more difficult it will be to defend under the Second Amendment."
A complete ban is the kind of infringement that is the greatest in scope. The U.S.
Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit correctly ruled that D.C.'s statutes are
unconstitutional. We strongly believe the ruling should be upheld by the U.S. Supreme
The National Rifle Association will be filing an amicus brief in this case and will
provide additional information to our members as this case moves through the legal
Well...I wonder when we can expect them to come out against a ban on new civilian machine guns.
I'd hold my breath but I like living.
Posted by: Tom at January 12, 2008 03:21 PM
Unfortunately the NRA seems to miss the point when they say "A complete ban [on handguns] is the kind of infringement that is the greatest in scope."
Because it's only a complete ban on handguns and some (or a lot of) restrictions on long guns, it's not the greatest in scope that it could be.
The only defense I can give for handguns is that a militia has even more need for concealable weapons than a conventional army because a militia is more likely to find itself in a situation like the French resistance of WWII.
Posted by: Critic at January 12, 2008 08:24 PM
The NRA is not nearly hard enough on the DOJ amicus. They are too kind about the "good" parts, but are ignoring the real point and goal of the government's arguments.
Posted by: Lucky#13 at January 12, 2008 10:08 PM
A point to ponder.
"It was not until 1986 that the first ever federal firearms ban (not tax/registration) was enacted when NRA accepted a ban on private purchase or possession of any newly manufactured machineguns as an amendment to the McClure-Volkmer, Firearms Owner's Protection
Act. At that time, NRA-ILA director, Wayne LaPierre, declared that repeal of the machinegun ban would be NRA's top priority in the next session of Congress. Even though Mr. LaPierre has now been the Chief Executive Officer of the NRA for more than 15 years, no bill to repeal the '86 ban has even been put forward by NRA."
Posted by: 30yearprof at January 12, 2008 11:36 PM
The NRA has a chance to actually regain some members here. OTOH, they can also permanently lose members depending on their final brief.
For my part, I would be willing to once again support the NRA if and ONLY if they come down firmly on the side saying that "shall not be infringed" MEANS "shall NOT be infringed".
Sadly, I expect the NRA to file abrief that sounds a lot like this statement. One that says nothing of substance but can be interpreted however the reader chooses.
Posted by: Gregg at January 13, 2008 12:45 AM
They're intentionally ignoring the machine gun part because it's bad PR for the NRA to argue in public that the DOJ should be adopting a legal argument that will later facilitate the ownership of machine guns. Everyone who cares about machine guns knows why strict scrutiny is important. There is nothing lost by having the faithful read between the lines.
Posted by: Jim W at January 13, 2008 05:50 AM
I agree with the NRA that the DC gun ban fails under any level of scrutiny but the level used is still important because under strict scrutiny we citizens usually win, under intermediate scrutiny we citizens win some and lose some, and under rational basis scrutiny we almost always lose and the govt almost always wins.
I care about the machine gun ban but that is for another time. Gotta win this one first. Gun owners lose this one and they will never win on the machine gun ban.
Posted by: Flash Gordon at January 13, 2008 12:57 PM
+1 on the post above. Exactly on. Talking about machine guns isn't the right thing right now.
Remember, that's what got us all upset at the DOJ statement. Their machine gun concerns have nothing to do with Heller. They should have just kept their mouths shut. The biggest problem with the DOJ brief is that it also isn't strong enough in defense of handgun ownership either. They're all for an individual right that apparently means nothing. They say they want more case law to decide it. The problem is that if this gets dragged out for a few more years, the SCOTUS make-up might be different and we lose for sure.
The NRA didn't bring this suit. A private citizen did. Let's not make this an NRA issue. I am a big NRA supporter and think they do an excellent job. I know lots of guys don't agree but our gun rights would have been gone long ago without them.
Let's stay focused on our anger with the DOJ and also our hope that we win Heller, first.
Posted by: Maxpwr at January 13, 2008 01:46 PM
Bullpucky, the NRA is currently part of the problem. It is not in the best interest of the political action wing of the NRA for the 2nd amendment issues to be resolved. If SCOTUS actually comes out and says that "shall not be infringed" means what it says and that therefore all gun laws are null and void then the political action wing of the NRA loses power, prestige and money. In fact the NRA likely feels that donations will drop off drastically if there is no longer a gun control fight.
I am upset with the DOJ. However, I keep being told that the NRA is my ally and that it is an 800lb gorilla. Oddly enough they keep acting like my enemy.
Posted by: Gregg at January 13, 2008 04:12 PM
Stop with the conspiracy theories.
Gun rights are dying in places like Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California because of the anti-gun laws there. There are less gun owners there now. You think the NRA benefits from less gun owners in those states and then less potential NRA members total? Who's going to join the NRA if they can't own a gun?
By that standard, membership in Pro-Gun organizations in Britain and Australia must really be booming because their gun rights are almost completely gone. They must really benefit from all the anti-gun laws in those countries. You know what? There's no longer a gun control fight in those countries, either, because they don't have any gun owners left in those countries because they didn't have an organized voice.
Why did NRA sue San Francisco over its gun ban? Seems by your logic they benefit if there are less gun owners and more gun laws. Should have just shut up on that one, shouldn't they have?
Posted by: Maxpwr at January 13, 2008 10:10 PM
Wow, you are just a powerhouse of logic aren't you.
Of course the NRA worked to overturn the San Francisco ban. As you pointed out they have to keep fighting to keep the money coming in. They can not afford to lose, but they also can not afford to win, which is what I said. It is in their best interest, as I said previously, to keep the fight going indefinitely.
Not sure how you jumped from there to a conspiracy. There is no conspiracy, to the best of my knowledge, just simple self-interest.
Maybe I should lay it out a little more simply for you. From the NRA's perspective, at least the political action wing and likely the head of fundraising.
Fight go away = BAD
Gun control shown to be unconstitutional = BAD
Banning all guns = BAD
Pro-gun vs Anti-gun squabble for a long time = GOOD
It's kind of like running a steam engine, you want a certain amount of pressure, too much is VERY BAD and too little is also bad.
I hope that I have managed to clarify things for you.
Posted by: Gregg at January 14, 2008 11:56 PM
Gregg, no need to clarify. I've heard your argument time and time again from guys in gun stores for 25 years. In the end, it always ends up that they don't want to pay the $35 membership fee and don't like getting fund raiser letters. I can afford the $35 and I can throw the fund raiser letters in the trash without any problem. Maybe the $35 isn't what you're concerned about, however.
What I guess it all comes down to is you want the NRA to go for broke and try to get all gun laws torn down in one fell swoop. To you, it seems like by dragging things out, they make more money. I don't disagree that they make money as the debate continues but I see that as a side issue and not the reason why things drag out. I think the NRA has run a very tactical and practical campaign given realities of politics and courts in the US over the past 30 years. Until recently, the make-up of the courts haven't been anywhere near sympathetic to the pro-gun cause. Maybe now our time has finally come.
Put yourself in the shoes of the anti-gun forces. Does Sarah Brady and the VPC benefit from a pro-longed gun control fight or don't you feel they would really like to take our guns away and end the debate with a win for them? I think they really want to take our guns away. I think the NRA really wants to protect our guns. Maybe I'm wrong but I don't feel let down by the NRA.
If we win Heller, neither you or I will give the NRA the direct credit. They didn't bring the suit and they aren't party to the suit. I think they are still concerned about losing "the big one" and SCOTUS saying there is no right to own guns. If we lose Heller, however, don't blame the NRA, either. This was a suit brought by private individuals and they alone are responsible for the outcome and merits of their case.
And maybe I'll be eating crow if the NRA brief comes out with some weak-kneed arguments. We'll see.
Posted by: Maxpwr at January 15, 2008 09:17 AM
I thought this was interesting. Has anyone heard if NRA is pressuring the White House to have the SG withdraw or amend the brief? Of course, the absence of such actions is very telling as to the true intentions of both parties.
"...Worried about the possibility that a Supreme Court decision supporting the Second Amendment as an individual right could “cast doubt on the constitutionality of existing federal legislation,” the Department of Justice felt it necessary to head off any restrictions on government power right at the beginning.
"But all is not lost. The Supreme Court can of course ignore the Bush administration’s advice, but the brief does carry significant weight. President Bush has the power to fix this by ordering that the solicitor general brief be withdrawn or significantly amended. Unfortunately, it may take an uprising by voters to rein in the Justice Department."
Posted by: Poshboy at January 15, 2008 09:40 AM
First, 30yearprof, please credit me when you quote me. That point about the machinegun issue was a side note to my commentary about NRA virtually ignoring the SG's position in support of DC's position. I am not calling for NRA to go to bat for MG's right now, just noting that, since the SG mentioned MG's, NRA, and Wayne LaPierre have a really crappy record in that arena.
The fact is that the supposedly pro-gun, Republican Administration just stabbed gunowners in the back and instead of standing up and indignantly calling a shovel a shovel, NRA "applauded" the good things the SG said and glossed over the negative. Look at the statement. If you were otherwise unfamiliar with the SG's brief, what would you take from NRA's statement? That the SG said some good things about the Second Amendment - Yea!
"However, the government's position is also that a "heightened" level of judicial scrutiny should be applied to these questions. The National Rifle Association believes that the Court should use the highest level of scrutiny in reviewing the D.C. gun ban."
The only indication in the whole statement that the NRA does not agree 100% with the Solicitor General's brief is the word "however."
NRA's statement begs the question; what were they trying to accomplish with this statement?
If you can explain it, I'd like to hear it.
More of my comments on the subject can be read at www.FirearmsCoalition.org.
Posted by: JeffKnox at January 15, 2008 12:23 PM
I'm in the NRA can't afford to win the war camp. There justification to mail those "send more money, this job is lasting longer than we thought" letters would disappear. They want the fight to continue.
Everything they have done for the last 20 years has ensured the fight will continue. They have not once tried to end the fight with a victory.
One does not need to take my word for it, nor rely on my opinion, just look at their record. That is why I left them. I don't think I should be the one paying those who betray me. I can get that done by those for whom I voted without a fee.
Posted by: straightarrow at January 15, 2008 03:16 PM
Jeff Knox, "heightened scrutiny" versus "strict scrutiny" is the whole ball of wax and the NRA is the right side on that issue. You know that, so quit trying to bamboozle people about how the NRA isn't saying enough. They are saying exactly the right thing and I anticipate that their brief will address the reason why restrictions on a fundamental right like the one reserved by the People in the Second Amendment should be judicially reviewed using strict scrutiny.
Look, we know who you are: you, and your late father before you, have worked tirelessly for the right to keep and bear arms. We applaud you for that. But, you both have also made a business out of NRA bashing for nearly 30 years.
Posted by: Letalis Maximus, Esq. at January 15, 2008 05:14 PM
Straightarrow, this fight will not be, cannot be, won with a knockout punch. With all due respect, any allegations that it could have been are just nonsense.
Posted by: Letalis Maximus, Esq. at January 15, 2008 05:17 PM
I've said before (on this site) and I will say it again: the DOJ brief and the argument for intermediate (heightened) scrutiny is about, and only about, the NFA and 922(o). Under strict scrutiny, they are most likely toast. After all, how can you tax a fundamental right? How can you outright ban an object necessary to a fundamental right?
Under heightened scrutiny, however, it is easy to argue that taxing "exceptionally dangerous" weapons (short barrel rifles and shotguns, machine guns, silencers, AOWs, and those awful Emma Gees) is simply an acceptable measure in light of the public safety concerns that those weapons raise. Hell, any 1L worth his/her salt would write a brief on that issue that would persuade any and every federal judge who is more Liberal than Alex Kozinski.
Posted by: Letalis Maximus, Esq. at January 15, 2008 05:22 PM
Good discussion and this is the last I'll write about it.
I'm afraid that some people feel the NRA is or should be some sort of superman. The NRA is an organization made up of individual members. If we as individual members feel our rights are being denied, it is up to us to bring suit, not the NRA. Most of us are conservatives who believe in our own self-reliance, not on nanny-state government/organizations to do everything for us.
The NRA doesn't bring suits about a handgun ban because the NRA isn't directly harmed by handgun bans. Individuals are harmed. When Second Amendment based cases have been tried by individuals: Morton Grove....California Assault Weapons.....etc. we've historically lost at the federal level. I know you'll say "well that's 'cuz the NRA didn't help out enough", but in reality, the courts have been stacked against us for a long time and I think the NRA has been tactical in their selection of which cases to fight and which to not. The fights we've won are worth the $35 a year to me. My Second Amendment rights are cheap at any price. We got a constitutional amendment to the Wisconsin constitution in 1998 thanks to the NRA. Shut down a lot of anti-gun momentum in Madison and Milwaukee. If the theory goes that the NRA benefits from threats of more gun laws, they didn't help themselves with victory in Wisconsin.
If we lose Heller 5-4 or worse, we'll have known it was still a bad idea to take this case all the way to SCOTUS. If we win, 5-4 or better, we can be thankful the case waited until now to get a SCOTUS make-up that sides with us because I don't think there has been a SCOTUS make-up that would support Heller for the past 25 years or more.
Posted by: Maxpwr at January 15, 2008 05:52 PM
Letalis Maximus, Esq.
Your comments are completely out of line.
I'm not trying to "bamboozle" anyone.
The NRA response, while technically correct, is flat out wimpy.
We just got screwed and if it weren't for the word 'however,' 90% of lawyers and 100% of laymen would have no idea that NRA even disagreed with the government's brief by reading their statement. I'm outraged by the Solicitor Generals nonsensical positions in the brief and think all gunowners should be too - including Wayne and Chris.
As to my family NRA bashing; I stand by our written record. Yes we are often critical of NRA, but never in a destructive way and never as a fund raising tactic. I am an Endowment Member and have always maintained - as my father always maintained - that NRA is the most important player on the field and should be worked with and pushed to excellence, not deserted or torn down. I caught flak recently for defending NRA over HR2640 and was publicly, very critical of those who were unreasonably doing so.
Our relationship with NRA has been long and turbulent, but we have always been willing to work with them to achieve common goals and we try to keep our criticism aimed at pushing the organization to be stronger and more effective.
Posted by: JeffKnox at January 16, 2008 12:04 PM
I am so tired of apologists for the NRA. Look! It's my problem that you have this emotional need to "belong" to the point of being blind. If you want to engage in that behavior do it somewhere less important. Join the Campfire Girls or something. That doesn't hurt your fellow citizens nor your country.
Nobody said anything about a knockout punch. Pursuing victory though would be a nice change from keep the problem.
Posted by: straightarrow at January 17, 2008 04:19 PM
Your opinion that the NRA response is "wimpy," is just that: your opinion. And you are welcome, and entitled, to it. I happen to disagree.
Similarly, it is my opinion that ignoring the "technically" and legally correct things the NRA's press release said is misleading. Another word for "mislead" is "bamboozle." You are welcome to disagree.
As for my comments being out of line, that too is your opinion. But, I have not attacked you personally. I have not called you any names. What we have here is a disagreement over a point of public relations.
Frankly, I find it to be pretty astounding that SG's brief acknowledged the individual nature of the 2nd Amendment. While I am certainly no Bush apologist, I wonder if we would have gotten that much out of a Kerry DOJ. I doubt it.
Again, thank you for your service.
Posted by: Letalis Maximus, Esq. at January 17, 2008 06:02 PM