Why a Victory For Gun Rights Was a Defeat for the NRA

June 29, 2008

This is almost a “news of the weird” item.  Most people by now will have read or heard about the recent Supreme Court (DC vs. Heller) ruling that struck down Washington DC’s ban on handguns.  It’s a victory for the cause of gun rights to be sure, though folks like Randy Balko have pointed out that there’s plenty of room for skepticism as to how far the ruling really goes.

But what’s truly weird about the case are it’s enemies: the NRA and one of it’s chief votes in Congress, Orrin Hatch, who apparently did nearly everything in their power to derail the case largely because they didn’t control it (and, some suspect, because they wanted a delay or even a loss so that the issue could remain on their profitable radar of election outrages).

The sad thing is that the NRA will almost certainly tout the Heller victory in their fundraising efforts, and many of its members will even be tricked into celebratory donations. But there are plenty of smaller, less bloated and corrupt gun rights groups that actually supported this case from the outset who are far more deserving.

Gun rights isn’t a big issue for me: I think that the ownership of individual weapons of self-defense is, for good or ill, protected constitutionally, but I don’t see it as anywhere near as important of an issue to a functioning democracy as most other rights: I can imagine a good society with and without such a right, whereas I cannot in the case of things like free speech, free exercise, and so on.

But when it does come down to defending gun rights, no matter where you stand, it’s worth knowing who the real principled defenders are, and who’re the hapless hypocrites.