I’ve been giving serious consideration to finally joining the NRA.
The people who want to take away your guns (and they would if they could) almost always are the same people who want to control every aspect of your life, from the health care you get to the sodas you drink to the pain medication you receive. They don’t know when to stop.
To that extent, the NRA serves a useful role in protecting not just 2nd Amendment rights, but the variety of rights anti-2nd Amendment advocates want to take away.
But the NRA is far from the perfect model of protecting liberty. It is a single issue entity, which in furtherance of its goals is willing to support people who want bigger, more intrusive government on non-2nd Amendment issues. It supported Jim Matheson over Mia Love. If reports are true, its cozy relationship with Harry Reid resulted in a provision being inserted into Obamacare which protected gun ownership from the new medical bureaucracy, but the quid pro quo was that the NRA stayed out of the Obamacare fight.
It’s hard to rationalize the demand for limited government on 2nd Amendment issues while supporting, at least indirectly, big intrusive government on everything else.
Nonetheless, the NRA does serve a purpose, limited though it may be.
The preferential treatment David Gregory received, while less connected people are prosecuted for violating the same law against possessing high-capacity magazines, demonstrates that overly broad and complicated guns laws give prosecutors discretion which is not in the public interest.
To the extent the NRA fights against an ever-expanding spider’s web of gun laws, the types of laws which have caused me to hesitate for fear of an unintentional violation, that is a good thing.
So as much as I disagree with the NRA on some things, I’m joining.
I’m also donating to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Consider that my reaction to the prosecutorial overreach in the Aaron Swartz case. EFF put it well in a blog post about Swartz’s suicide, that the proliferation of computer crime laws puts undue discretion in the hands of prosecutors:
… the situation Aaron found himself in highlights the injustice of U.S. computer crime laws, and particularly their punishment regimes. Aaron’s act was undoubtedly political activism, and taking such an act in the physical world would, at most, have a meant he faced light penalties akin to trespassing as part of a political protest. Because he used a computer, he instead faced long-term incarceration. This is a disparity that EFF has fought against for years. Yesterday, it had tragic consequences. Lawrence Lessig has called for this tragedy to be a basis for reform of computer crime laws, and the overzealous prosecutors who use them. We agree.
One of my big take-aways from the Gregory and Swartz cases is that people who are vastly far apart on many political issues recognize, for their own reasons, that government control of our lives is a risk to our liberties. The Tea Party movement has more in common with the hacktivist community than either side wants to admit.
We may not agree on much else, but it’s a common ground I hope to plow here at Legal Insurrection in the coming months.
Update — NRA and EFF donations completed.