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Harry Reid Trying to Use Constitutional Amendment to Silence NRA, its Members, and Free Speech

Friday, September 5, 2014

In January 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a key decision in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.  The decision removed unconstitutional restrictions on the ability to speak freely at election time of grassroots groups like NRA and others. But now, some are trying to reverse the decision--and while they recognize that they must amend the Constitution to do so, their amendment would gut the First Amendment rights of organized political groups as we know them.

The late Sen. Paul Wellstone had said during the original debate over the legislation at issue in Citizens United that it was his intention to silence groups like the NRA. While Wellstone singled out the NRA, this law delivered a clear message to all American citizens: "Keep your mouths shut and stay out of our politics."

The court declared unconstitutional the parts of the law that had been enacted for the explicit purpose of silencing the NRA and its members. Of course, the gun-banners in the White House and Congress opposed the decision because it thwarted their plans. 

Now, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is aggressively trying to reverse the Citizens United decision by pushing "Senate Joint Resolution 19," a proposed "amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections."

As the title of the proposed constitutional amendment suggests, S.J.R. 19 is intended to allow anti-gunners in Congress to silence their critics and to control the gun "debate.”  S.J.R. 19 would authorize burdensome federal and state regulation--or outright prohibition--of spending by corporations and other legal entities (like NRA) to do what many were created to do: protect the rights of their members at the ballot box.  Prominent constitutional scholar Floyd Abrams said of S.J.R. 19, "It is intended to limit speech about elections and it would do just that….”  

The U.S. Senate could vote on the measure as early as next week.  NRA strongly opposes S.J.R. 19 and will score legislators’ votes on the proposed amendment.  Please take action NOW to stop this proposed constitutional amendment that would severely restrict free speech during elections.  Please immediately contact your U.S. Senators and tell them to OPPOSE Senate Joint Resolution 19.   

You can contact your U.S. Senators by using the "Write Your Lawmakers" tool at www.NRAILA.org.  You may also contact your Senators by phone at (202) 224-3121.

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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.