• GOA Victory in the U.S. Supreme Court!

    -- Decision is a win for private property and the Second Amendment Read More
  • Shaneen Allen Reminds Us Why We Need Concealed Carry Reciprocity

  • GOA Celebrates Mother’s Day this Weekend

    -- Have you signed up for the Gun Giveaway? Read More
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GOA News

  • Vets Disarmed
  • Anti-gun Hysteria
  • The Race Card
  • Bigot Game
  • Against Lynch

Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

The Daily Caller recently reported on a “shocking government program” where the Department of Veterans Affairs is disarming American vets by getting them put on the FBI’s background check list.

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Ridiculous “Case” Against Pro-gun House Member Dismissed

(Washington, D.C.) – Rep. Buck (R-CO) is a strong, vocal defender of gun rights.  So is Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina.

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GOA supported legislation would remove the race and ethnicity questions from the ATF Form 4473

Congressional Republicans are pushing a bill to block the feds from forcing gun buyers to disclose their race in applications, saying the government should be "color blind" when it comes to the Second Amendment.

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The Bigot Game

It worked with Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It worked with Ferguson. It's being used to bludgeon hapless Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy into submission. And now it's being used to try to overcome Second Amendment opposition to the confirmation of Loretta Lynch.

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Demand that Loretta Lynch require 60 votes in order to invoke cloture on her nomination!

Senator Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
United States Senate
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-1702

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Self-Defense Corner

  • Blown Away
  • One & Down
  • Armed & Ready
  • Couple Held at Knifepoint
  • CCW Saves Elderly Man

Suspect Dead on Porch After Homeowner’s Shot Blows Him Out of House

On April 29, a homeowner in East Knox County, Tennessee, reportedly awoke to the sound of glass breaking, drew a bead on the alleged intruder, and blew the suspect out of the house with one shot. When police arrived, they found him dying on the porch.

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Homeowner Shoots Intruder With Single Precision Shot, Successfully Ending Home Invasion

A homeowner shot and killed an intruder who broke into his home early Wednesday morning.

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Alleged Home Invader ‘Chose Wrong House,’ Homeowner Was Armed, Ready

On April 23, an alleged 18-year-old home invader “chose the wrong house” for a daylight robbery in Arlington, Texas, and was shot and killed by the homeowner, who was in the residence at the time.

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Your Gun Won't Help You If Its Not On You: Couple Held At Gunpoint In Their Own Kitchen, Occupant Retrieves Gun After Intruder Leaves And Gives Chase

A couple walked into their kitchen early Saturday morning to have their morning coffee, and were immediately confronted by a man who held them at gunpoint.

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[VIDEO] Concealed Carrier Stops Attack On Elderly Man In Kroger Parking Lot

A 24-year-old man with a concealed firearm was walking out of a Kroger grocery store when he noticed a group of 7 people surrounding an elderly man, and at least on of them was attacking him.

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John McCain's Lobbying Reform Provisions Unconstitutional And Would Protect Corruption
by Mark Fitzgibbons

Editor's note: trashing the First Amendment rights of groups like GOA in 2002 with the infamous McCain-Feingold law -- better known as the Incumbent Protection Act -- wasn't enough for Sen. McCain. He's back for more in 2006 with S. 2128, the Gag Act.

Proposed regulation of the grassroots, such as Section 110 of S. 2128 (the Lobbying Transparency and Accountability Act), with similar provisions in counterpart bills before the House of Representatives, would harm America.

Not only does such regulation abridge freedom of speech, of the press, the right of the people to peaceably assemble, to petition the Government for redress of grievances, and to exercise our respective faiths, but such regulation would actually protect the corruptive influences that these lobbying and ethics reform bills are purportedly intended to fix.

Through the grassroots, citizens across the country assemble peaceably, though perhaps not always politely, on political and social matters of importance to them. The problems Congress purports to cure through its recent efforts are the quid pro quo of legislation for gifts or other "consideration." Whatever the problems inside the Beltway, none of those problems can be blamed on too much citizen participation in public policy matters. Any efforts to regulate the grassroots, therefore, are misplaced.

The grassroots, of course, are the People. They are whom Justice William Brennan called "citizen-critic[s] of government." More than merely critics of government, the grassroots are populist means of criticizing corporations, even entire industries. They are critics of the institutional, mainstream media as well as critics of the new and alternative media. Grassroots organizations are critics even of other grassroots organizations.

S. 2128 would require registration and reporting of "paid" efforts to "stimulate" the grassroots. Section 110 of the bill defines these as efforts "to influence the general public... to contact one or more... legislative or executive branch officials (or Congress as a whole) to urge such officials... to take specific action" on matters of public policy. "Attempts to influence" 500 or more citizens by any person or entity receiving or spending $25,000 or more in any quarter trigger these grassroots lobbying registration and reporting requirements.

The thresholds triggering registration and reporting may be met by the placement of just one media ad or just the postage for one direct mail letter mailed nationally. It is not merely that these thresholds are low; they are unconstitutional. These provisions directly violate the "constitutional rights" identified in 2 U.S.C. 1607(a) of the underlying lobbying registration statute that S. 2128 amends (not that constitutional rights need statutory recitation of the fact that they exist). What possibly could have made these constitutional rights fall out of favor since 1995, when the Disclosure of Lobbying Activities bill was first passed?

The registration requirements are a prior restraint on the exercise of First Amendment rights, and the reporting requirements are burdens on such rights, with civil and even criminal sanctions in some of the legislative proposals for failure to register and report. Registration is a prior restraint because failure to register within a set period of agreeing to engage in such rights sets off penalties. Speech and press rights must therefore obtain government clearance in advance of communications being issued.

James Madison, in describing the distinction between the American version of a free printing press versus the British version, said that

    a law inflicting penalties on printed publications would have a similar effect with a law authorizing a previous restraint on them. It would seem a mockery to say that no laws should be passed preventing publications from being made, but that laws may be passed for punishing them in case they should be made.

Section 110 of S. 2128 is a prior restraint. Section 106 of the bill amending 2 U.S.C. 1606 would create substantial penalties for that to which all Americans have guaranteed and constitutionally protected rights "paramount to laws," as Madison said.

Such regulation would stifle speech, but more so, it would effectively censor small, start-up and unpopular causes already strapped for cash. These bills would treat small and unpopular citizen causes the same as large corporations hiring high-priced K Street lobbyists, and would penalize or completely shut out some of the most valuable means of citizens protecting their own freedoms.

It is well-settled law that paid efforts to engage in First Amendment rights merit no fewer constitutional protections than unpaid volunteer efforts. Journalists who receive paychecks are no less protected than unpaid bloggers.

The paid ads of the Committee to Defend Martin Luther King "communicated information, expressed opinion, recited grievances, protested claimed abuses, and sought financial support on behalf of a movement whose existence and objectives are matters of the highest public interest and concern." New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 266 (1964). Such "editorial advertisements," of course cost money to prepare, to place, to print and to disseminate. They are "the promulgation of information and ideas by persons who do not themselves have access to publishing facilities -- who wish to exercise their freedom of speech even though they are not members of the press." Id.

There are many other examples, too long to list in this letter, of why "paid" efforts to engage in protected First Amendment activity are not only as protected constitutionally, but are as important and as valuable as unpaid efforts. For example, paid efforts to circulate petitions are "core political speech" subject to the "zenith" of First Amendment protections. See, Meyer v. Grant, 486 U.S. 414, 421–422 (1988). The bottom line is that First Amendment protections of speech, the printing press, petitioning and association rights are not lost merely because it costs money to communicate in today's world of mass media.

Regulating "paid" efforts to stimulate grassroots activity merely gives the appearance that Members of Congress and their respective Republican and Democratic Party committees would prefer for their own professional political consultants to have a leg up in the marketplace of ideas and donations. Members of Congress may already send communications at taxpayer expense under their "free" franking privileges, and as 535 of the most important people in the country, easily have more access to express their views for free through the mainstream media.

Costs of compliance with quarterly reporting requirements will effectively reduce the ability of marginal grassroots efforts to communicate, and will silence cash-strapped unpopular causes. Corporations and large, established causes that are already wealthy will be able to comply. Thus, your bills would effectively silence some critics and allow the wealthier ones to communicate. Such censorship through regulation merely protects the corruptive influences inside the Beltway.

Since the apparent ethics issues are the quid pro quo, it seems that a better solution, and certainly one without constitutional prohibitions, would be to require Members of Congress who sponsor legislation or amendments to sign, under penalties of perjury, that such legislation is submitted without gifts or promises of some consideration.

The expansion of the grassroots these past 40 years has empowered Americans, and that is a good thing. The grassroots are the very antithesis of corruptive influences inside the Beltway. Whatever the solution to the complex problems of congressional ethics, a vote to regulate the grassroots would be the equivalent of a vote to protect the corruptive influences.

Op-Ed Articles