Last week we discussed the embarrassing decision by the San Francisco City Council to label the National Rifle Association a “domestic terrorist organization.” While that was bad enough to start with, they went several steps further, declaring that they would “limit business interactions with the NRA and its supporters.”
This was clearly a bridge too far for the NRA. They initially released a statement calling this action “a reckless assault on a law-abiding organization, it’s members, and the freedoms they all stand for.” But they aren’t stopping there. Now the case may be heading to court. (Washington Times)
The National Rifle Association sued San Francisco on Monday over the city’s recent declaration that the gun-rights lobby is a “domestic terrorist organization.”
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, accuses city officials of violating the gun lobby’s free speech rights for political reasons and says the city is seeking to blacklist anyone associated with the NRA. It asks the court to step in “to instruct elected officials that freedom of speech means you cannot silence or punish those with whom you disagree.”
It sounds like the NRA has a pretty solid case here. If the city had only passed some sort of nonbinding resolution calling the group a “domestic terrorist organization” they might have gotten away with it. The best they could probably do in that case would be to accuse the city of slander or something along those lines, but their prospects for success wouldn’t be as promising.
But when the city elders decided to declare that they would limit business with the NRA and its supporters, they definitely crossed a line. When it comes to the awarding of contracts to do business with the city, every qualified entity or individual has to be given a fair opportunity to bid and compete. I somehow doubt that the NRA is doing much municipal business with the city (unless they’re offering firearms safety instruction there), but they certainly have members in the region who might be.
San Francisco seems to clearly be saying that they will deny any members or other groups supportive of the NRA and Second Amendment rights the opportunity to bid for such work. That’s got to be illegal and a judge should eventually find that they’ve crossed the line and order them to retract the order.
If I had to put on my prognostication hat here and guess how it plays out I’d say that the City Council is realizing that they really stepped in it this time and they’re currently looking for a way to save face. That could come in the form of some sort of statement saying everyone misunderstood them and they didn’t mean they would cut off official business. (Perish the thought.) It was all just a statement of principles. They might even redo the resolution to make that more clear. And if that happens, the lawsuit probably collapses and goes away.