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High Court Upholds NRA’s 1st Amendment Rights to Defend 2nd Amendment

Posted on Thursday, June 6, 2024
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by Outside Contributor
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It’s not every day that a pro-Second Amendment group gets a resounding victory at the Supreme Court, with a unanimous opinion authored by a justice who thinks there’s no individual right to keep and bear arms, no less.

And yet, last week, that’s exactly what happened, with the nation’s highest court handing the National Rifle Association a resounding 9-0 win against the state of New York—not over the state’s gun laws, but over its attempts to suppress the NRA’s pro-Second Amendment views.

The NRA had alleged that Maria Vullo, the now-former head of the state’s Department of Financial Services, violated the First Amendment when she coerced several insurers to cut ties with the group over its advocacy against restrictive gun control. While the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit dismissed the NRA’s claims, the Supreme Court last week overturned that decision, effectively allowing the organization’s lawsuit against Vullo to continue. 

The court’s opinion is a win for the NRA and for broad free speech protections. But it also underscores an unsettling reality: The war for the Second Amendment often involves battles waged on a First Amendment front.

This is far from the first time that gun control activists have attacked the lawful gun industry and lawful gun owners by threatening their right to speak freely.    

Consider California’s passage of AB 2571 in 2022, which essentially prohibited any person or organization remotely related to the “firearms industry” from “promoting” even the lawful and supervised use of firearms by minors. The law’s reach was so broad that it effectively forbade youth sport shooting groups and youth hunter safety programs from advertising their existence. At the same time, however, the law would not have prevented the publication of messages advocating against those same groups or activities.

The state argued that the law was necessary to keep these “dangerous products” out of the hands of “impulsive, risky, [and] thrill-seeking” young people, who were apparently enticed and lured by attractive advertisements or promotions to illegally purchase firearms and use them for criminal purposes. (Never mind that the state couldn’t provide a single example of a minor being “lured” to unlawfully purchase a gun because he or she saw an advertisement for a youth sport shooting group.)

This was, of course, just a cover for the state’s real goal; namely, stamping out pro-Second Amendment viewpoints and traditions by preventing them from being readily passed down to future generations.

Fortunately, California’s efforts to prohibit truthful speech about lawful activities involving guns went too far for even the 9th Circuit, an appeals court notorious for finding ever new and creative ways to uphold restrictive gun-control laws.

In September, a three-judge panel determined that the law was likely unconstitutional and granted a preliminary injunction that stopped it from being enforced—for now, at least. To this day, California continues actively defending the law during ongoing litigation.

California’s use of advertising regulations as a club with which to coercively eliminate pro-gun viewpoints from public discourse is not unique: Illinois passed a similar statute last year, which is also being challenged in federal court.

It’s also not limited to state governments, either.

In 2010, the Phoenix Public Transit Department rejected a contract selling advertisement space on bus shelters to a company promoting its marksmanship and gun-safety classes. The Arizona Court of Appeals later determined that the city unconstitutionally misapplied its own standards and advertising regulations so that it could quash a disfavored viewpoint about guns.    

More than a decade later, just up the road from Phoenix, the city of Flagstaff, Arizona, finds itself in hot water, legally speaking, over similar attempts to suppress pro-Second Amendment viewpoints, rejecting an advertisement for a firearms training center by claiming that its “representation of shooting sports” violated the city’s policy against displaying “violence or anti-social behavior.”

That’s right. Telling lawful gun owners how they can responsibly exercise their constitutional right to keep and bear arms is inherently violent and anti-social behavior.

Not all attacks on the free speech of lawful gun owners are so direct and overt. No, sometimes the suppression of pro-Second Amendment voices is quite subtle.

After the Supreme Court struck down New York’s incredibly restrictive framework for issuing public carry permits in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assoc. v. Bruen, the state responded with a new framework that was, in some respects, even more concerning than the previous one. Not only were these new permits spitefully expensive and difficult to obtain, but applicants were required to disclose all of their social media accounts to law enforcement.

Ask yourself how freely you would speak online if the exercise of your Second Amendment rights depended entirely upon the whims of a government official in a historically anti-gun state, that is breathing down your neck as you type? Moreover, because many social media accounts are maintained under pseudonyms, compelling a person to disclose those accounts means that they forfeit their anonymity.

Imagine conditioning the exercise of one constitutional right on the forfeiture of another!

Fortunately, the 2nd Circuit—though unwilling to strike down all aspects of New York’s post-Bruen “spite laws”—recognized the chilling effect of the social media disclosure requirement, so, at least for now, that requirement cannot be enforced.

While we should take comfort in the fact that, thus far, most federal courts have been willing to uphold the First Amendment rights of Second Amendment groups, the fact that such legal intervention is necessary underscores how bad the situation is becoming.

Gun control activists know that the closest thing they have to a winning argument is a silent opposition.

They want your guns so badly that they’ll take your voice, too.

Reprinted with permission by The Daily Signal by Amy Swearer.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of AMAC or AMAC Action.

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Spitfire?
Spitfire?
9 days ago

Good for the High Court.There are 50 million law abiding gun owners in this country.Only 5 million are NRA members.It’s time for the slackers to get off their BUTTS and pitch in.Do it for the young men who died on the beaches of Normandy 80 years ago if for nothing else.Remember they gave their tomorrow’s for your todays.Remember,freedom isn’t free.

Lhett
Lhett
9 days ago

It seems like the constitution is under attack from a lot of different directions. I am happy that THIS TIME the Supreme Court ruled in the NRA’s favor. The left will continue to attack our privacy, free speech and our right to bear arms. This fight is never ending.
I believe the law schools are tilted so far left that recent graduates think it is their duty to rip up and rewrite the constitution to their liking, and they think they are more intelligent than graduates of the same schools from prior years because they are “WOKE.”

Theresa Coughlin
Theresa Coughlin
9 days ago

Full disclosure: I am a member of the NRA. as such I am thrilled by this Supreme Court decision.

VikkiC
VikkiC
9 days ago

It’s about time the whole state of California, along with Newsom, is canceled. They should be forced to secede from the USA, and let all their wonderful residents support them.

Bill Smith
Bill Smith
9 days ago

That is an encouraging outcome. It’s time for some of these “:officials” to have their job descriptions re-explained to them….slowly.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
9 days ago

And Biden claims to be “saving Democracy”? That’s rich.

Pat R
Pat R
8 days ago

Those gun-control activists either don’t have a clue or are simply ignorant. If there are no classes teaching the safe handling of a gun, ‘ “impulsive, risky, [and] thrill-seeking” young people’ will simply grab a gun and pull the trigger anyway.
What happens when a young person is told not to do something because it isn’t safe? It’s like a dare – they think they’re smart and have an “I’ll show you” attitude. They find a way to do it anyway, not considering consequences. And as has happened often, those consequences are dangerously harmful and often deadly.

Joe McHugh
Joe McHugh
9 days ago

??? Since when does an inherent right have to be defended in a free society? ALL of the ten rights in the Bill of Rights are really inherent freedoms. The Founding Fathers didn’t “give us” any of those rights, they simply inscribed them on that document to declare to one and all that they are immanent in nature.
The author of this article is absolutely right in pointing out, “Imagine conditioning the exercise of one constitutional right on the forfeiture of another!”
The Democrat Party and their liberal acolytes are first and foremost socialists. As such, they are obsessed with imposing that false political theory on all American citizens. However, they can’t attack the Second Amendment directly so they frame their efforts to make it irrelevant by equating the very possession of firearm as being somehow a criminal endeavor.
The socialists understand that you cannot attack the inherent rights of an armed people. That’s what drives all of the Democrat efforts to make the people relinquish their right to arms.
In reading the Founding Fathers thoughts about private ownership of firearms, one is compelled to admit that they regarded the Second Amendment as, in a last resort, a means to resist government abuse of their inherent rights. The very first two of those rights, (including the right to free speech), are the first two rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights.
By the way, I’m astonished that the three liberal minded female justices on the Supreme Court of the United States concurred with the court decision against a New York State bureaucrat concerning the National Rifle Association. I guess that even these three Marxists couldn’t bring themselves to overtly dishonoring their oath to obey and protect the Constitution including its Bill of Rights.

Thinking
Thinking
8 days ago

The administration wants total control over the citizens of this country. From where to live, who has to live with you, what sex your children should be, gun safety classes be eliminated, my goodness the kids might learn to carry a gun to school. That never happened ever as long there have been gun safety classes it is another way to muzzle and brainwash the people so they obey. This past 4 years has seen so many frivolous cases and mandates Obiden is the dictator. The military, the unborn babies, the poor of all races, the victims of gang shootings and car hacking or just being attacked for the thrill of it by individuals that are protected by the Biden Harris no bail orders, the poor children brainwashed into trans mutilation, the businesses ordered to DEI acceptance and vaccine mandates and CRT training in the schools, supporting of the trans and drag queens by allowing to perform for kindergartners and as recruits for the military, banning books and changing gender pronouns to erase man, woman, mother, father, grandma and grandpa as salutations, disrespect for seniors or people having a different point of view, allowing riots and call them peaceful demonstrations, promoting Jan 6 as a coup, and at every turn trying to eliminate opposing candidates from running for a dems seat. In other words dictatorship, hatred of those that see America as a constitutional republic and they see as a country that needs to be destroyed but first they are going to get all the riches they can. Our tax money is going to Obiden and his minions here and abroad. As the article stated “the fact that legal intervention is necessary, underscores the fact how bad the situation has become”. The left and dems are dictators with one goal, power over the people forever. We, the people, are in their way to Utopia. We are the ones that pollute the world. Genocide by viruses spreading across the world if that doesn’t work let’s repopulate the country with millions of foreigners who will choke off these obstinate patriots, so hated by Obiden and his gang. VOTE TRUMP. SAVE AMERICA.

Tom
Tom
8 days ago

Good for the 1st and 2nd amendments… historically the first things gone in a Marxist regime.

Joanne4justice
Joanne4justice
8 days ago

IT IS FORTUNATE that persons committed to safe firearms use and education can continue their work without harassment , and not lose their guaranteed FREEDOMS!!

The outstanding issue is that guns NEED TO BE KEPT AWAY FROM CRIMINALS! BY DOING AN EXTENSIVE ENFORCED THOROUGH BACKGROUND CHECK! Before issuing gun permits and gun PURCHASE Criminals must be prosecuted and kept off the streets! As well
THE
NATIONAL DOJ LAW That prevents mental health patients from buying, ammunition and guns for 5 years after a mental health intervention desperately needs to be enforced and more closely monitored.. it would not solve the big problem but definitely help decrease crime and murder statistics !!!

. .

Eirl B
Eirl B
7 days ago

I find the state and federal governments disregard for our fundamental Bill of Rights a disgrace. We are seeing the media’s attack on all of rights with the bogus trial against the former United States President Donald J Trump in New York. We are a Banana Republic folks!

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
8 days ago

Although I quit the NRA several years ago, its good to see the supreme court sticking up for whats right by law. Kyle L.

Linder
Linder
8 days ago

Unarmed America is fair game…

Barrett T Smith
Barrett T Smith
8 days ago

We had a taste of what the Left wants for us during the Covid response. They want total control over us.

Tim Toroian
Tim Toroian
8 days ago

It’s not nice to mess with codified Constitutional Rights. There should be a law that such activity is subject to legal action. Civil penalties would hurt worse than jail time.

Morbious
Morbious
8 days ago

The treason party will never stop trying to grab guns. Intellectually theyre the direct descendants of the Bolsheviks. They dont believe in personal freedom of any kind only in group dynamics. They believe themselves to be prime agents of history and that history ends when they have absolute power. For this reason thet will never cease attacking all individual rights; speech, personal defense, religion, private property. Only they deserve rights.

anna hubert
anna hubert
9 days ago

Just when the things could not be much worse there appears a ray of hope on the horizon that there is a small segment that is not totally corrupt Sorry state we are in

Randall L. Beatty
Randall L. Beatty
5 days ago

That is great news for us private gun owners it gives all law abiding people a win.

Roger Wiley
Roger Wiley
8 days ago

Madam Swearer, I have invited the “gun control nuts”, and Biden’s DOJ to come and get my guns. The only caviot is that I will surrender them ” ammunition first.

uncleferd
uncleferd
8 days ago

Once again, still zero redeeming behaviors coming from “The Big Filthy” (my little nickname for the “Democrat” party). Their denial of fact and false posturing occupy them completely, as they “exault” themselves with cryptic rhetoric and loudly exclaim their moral superiority. Maybe we really SHOULD legalize a couple of VERY strong, hallucinogenic drugs just to quiet them down a bit. An LSD hangover could at least subdue some of them enough to forego a “fake-ballot cheat session” when the poll watchers go home on election night….

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