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NRA-ILA Exec. Dir. Chris Cox Responds to Internet Rumors

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The NRA has received a number of questions about blog posts that claim I issued a “gag order” to NRA board members on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court.  This is absurd and wrong. 

This claim shows complete ignorance of how the NRA operates.  NRA staff, including everyone (myself included) at the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, work for the NRA Executive Vice President, who in turn works for the NRA board, which in turn is elected by NRA’s voting members. 

Under the NRA by-laws, NRA-ILA has "sole responsibility to administer the legislative, legal, informational and fund raising activities of the Association relating to the defense or furtherance of the right to keep and bear arms, in accordance with the objectives and policies established by the Board of Directors.”  To carry out that mission, NRA-ILA strives to ensure that the NRA’s positions are clear and based on the most accurate information possible.

The confirmation of a Supreme Court justice is not to be taken lightly. That’s why, when Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement in April, I sent an e-mail to NRA board members and staff stating that with the critical case of McDonald v. Chicago still pending before the Court, “it is very important that NRA not comment on Justice Stevens nor engage in speculation on potential successors.” 

Similarly, when the President nominated Solicitor General Kagan to the Court in May, I sent a message to the NRA Board pointing out her lack of a judicial record; noting that NRA-ILA was reviewing all available information; and stating that “it is important that we all refrain from commenting until we know more about Kagan’s views regarding the Second Amendment.”  Again, I referenced the fact that NRA has a case pending before the Court.

When Ms. Kagan was nominated, little information on her record was available.  More recently, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library has released an enormous volume of documents from her time in the White House.  NRA-ILA staff has reviewed these carefully and they raise serious concerns.  As we said last week:

What we've seen to date shows a hostility towards our Right to Keep and Bear Arms, such as her role in developing the Clinton Administration's 1998 ban on importation of many models of semi-automatic rifles; her note mentioning the NRA and the Ku Klux Klan as “bad guy” organizations; and her comment to Justice Marshall that she was “not sympathetic” to a challenge to Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban.

Respect for the Senate confirmation process requires that a nominee be given the opportunity to explain his or her position on critical issues affecting gun owners.  That’s why the NRA has been working with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to make sure she is thoroughly questioned on these issues.  Once the hearings are complete, the NRA will announce its position on her confirmation.

This is exactly the approach the NRA took last year when we opposed the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor.  Early in the process, we expressed our serious concerns about her record. We announced our opposition after her confirmation hearings ended without evidence that she would properly respect our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms and apply it to the states.  Her dissenting vote in McDonald v. Chicago confirmed that our position was correct.

Unfortunately, false Internet rumors are far too often repeated as fact.  Rest assured, however, that the NRA is fully committed to representing the interests of our members and all gun owners in this process and defending the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, as we do in all legislative, legal and political arenas.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.