I agree with Charles in that the NRA would by not cutting a deal, likely end up eventually spending member dues or other donations in an effort to negate the effects of this bill if it indeed passes in some form.
If anyone would like to have an entertaining read, I strongly suggest reading section 2, (b), 1-8. relating to the Legislative interest in preserving the virginal purity of government contracting and bid processes.
I find it quite cute that many politicians, in an effort to suppress their potential critics, support this type of legislation through all manner of verifiable falsehood and rhetorical and logical fallacies. My personal view on speech is that one should be unrestricted in their speech or their group's speech to the utmost extent that the content of the speech does not cause injury(libel/slander etc), great potential for injury (causing a panic by yelling fire in a crowded theater), or infringement on another's rights through coercive speech (blackmail, extortion, harassment). I think that politicians who would like to enact legislation which reduces our right to express our opinions however we so choose are begging to have their tenure reviewed.
Back off the rant - the NRA has an obligation to maintain it's very limited focus. By making a deal and refraining from negative commentary on this bill, the NRA fulfills it's promise to members in the short term and can more effectively allocate its resources to issues of primary concern in this election year. If the NRA didn't have a narrow focus, it would over time likely lose influence and political power because of the dilution of it's goals and reduced efficiency it would naturally sustain with an expanded scope.
The bill can be found here:
The Wall Street Journal has an editorial today on this subject titled: "Guns and Free Speech: The NRA sells out to Democrats on the First Amendment." please find it below.
The National Rifle Association is suffering a sudden onset of amnesia this week, as the gun lobby cuts a deal to exempt itself from the latest Congressional attempt to repeal the First Amendment. NRA members may soon regret the organization's bid to ingratiate itself with Democrats at the expense of its longtime free-speech allies.
The campaign finance bill, sponsored by Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Chris Van Hollen, is the Democratic response to the Supreme Court's January decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which restored the First Amendment right of corporations, unions and nonprofits to make independent campaign expenditures. At the time, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre called Citizens United "a defeat for arrogant elitists who wanted to carve out free speech as a privilege for themselves and deny it to the rest of us."
Look who's arrogant and elitist now. Under the Schumer-Van Hollen bill, political speech would be bound up with new restrictions, including special burdens on government contractors and corporations that have a certain level of foreign ownership or received TARP funds. The bill also includes disclosure rules designed to hit corporations, requiring CEOs to appear to "approve this message" the way politicians do, and for groups to identify their donors. Except for the NRA.
Under the NRA carve-out in the House bill, the new rules won't apply to any organizations that have been around for more than 10 years, have more than a million members and receive less than 15% of their funding from corporate donors. That fits the NRA nicely, though as best we can figure, everyone else, from the Sierra Club to Planned Parenthood, fails to qualify. So much for defending the little guy against the fat cats.
This backroom deal came at the behest of Democrats from conservative states, for whom the NRA's scorecard of their legislative record can be a major boost or obstacle to election. Creating a special exception for the NRA, and thereby assuring the Democrats "good grades" on Second Amendment rights, eases the way for the bill to be passed. A failing grade on First Amendment rights is somebody else's problem.
By erecting what amounts to a grandfather clause of First Amendment rights, the bill creates a sort of interest-group incumbency, concentrating the power to speak freely among a handful of large and longstanding groups. Established organizations like the NRA provide important representation for their members, but their lobbying cause is specific and limited.
Left vulnerable by the special treatment are the smaller grassroots outfits that often pop up in response to new and immediate policy challenges. The ability of these groups to count on the full protection of the First Amendment is critical to diverse and responsive political debate.
The NRA may swing a big lobbying stick by virtue of the breadth and voting power of its members, but it draws its legitimacy from the Constitution and it has drawn support on gun rights from those who care about the entire Bill of Rights. Cutting a special deal at the expense of the First Amendment with lawmakers who have decided for now to stop gutting the Second Amendment reveals an NRA that is unprincipled and will be weaker for it in the long run.