The National Rifle Association richly deserves criticism for its role in preventing the enactment of sensible gun control legislation. The Los Angeles Times put the matter bluntly in an editorial in February: “Because of the gun group’s cynical hardline policies and near-religious embrace of the Second Amendment, more and more Americans live at daily risk from gunfire, be it from a random shooter, from an intimate partner or by their own hands.”

But does the NRA’s responsibility for loose gun laws make it a “domestic terrorist organization”? The San Francisco Board of Supervisors thinks so, and approved a resolution on Sept. 3 purporting to “declare” it as such.

The resolution may be good politics, but it’s irresponsible for several reasons.

First, it’s not the business of a county board of supervisors to designate terror organizations. Even if you don’t agree with me that legislative bodies at all levels should refrain from passing nonbinding resolutions, this one is particularly inappropriate because it is couched in language that could leave the impression that its declaration about a national issue actually has legal force.

The resolution also calls on the City and County of San Francisco to “take

every reasonable step to assess the financial and contractual relationships our vendors and contractors have with this domestic terrorist organization.” That’s also problematic from a First Amendment perspective if officials follow though and attempt to blacklist contractors that deal with the NRA.

The resolution refers to — but distorts — the federal definition of “material support” for terrorism. Opposing legislation that would make it harder for some people to use guns in crimes, offensive as that may be, is not remotely the same thing as providing weapons to “any individual [who] has committed or plans to commit a terrorist act.”

The resolution also alleges that the NRA uses its resources to “incite gun owners to acts of violence.” Federal law does prohibit speech that solicits the commission of a violent crime. But it requires that the speaker act “with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force.”

This resolution comes at a time when there is pressure on Congress to respond to recent mass shootings by creating a new crime of domestic terrorism. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) has introduced the Confronting the Threat of Domestic Terrorism Act, which he says is “narrowly tailored to violent terrorist acts.” But look for NRA supporters to point to the San Francisco supervisors’ resolution to

argue that this and similar bills will threaten the organization and its exercise of First Amendment rights.

Politicians are prone to exaggeration, even when using legal terminology. Sen. Kamala Harris was criticized (fairly) for tweeting on the fifth anniversary of Michael Brown’s killing that “Michael Brown’s murder forever changed Ferguson and America.” As the Washington Post fact-checker noted, the reference to “murder” was at odds with a report by the Obama Justice Department that “there is no credible evidence that (police officer Darren) Wilson willfully shot Brown as he was attempting to surrender or was otherwise not posing a threat.”

Police shootings and gun violence understandably inspire strong emotions, and elected officials are no exception. But they need to watch their words, especially when those words are contained in legislation or, in this case, pseudo-legislation.

Michael McGough is the Los Angeles Times’ senior editorial writer, based in Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2019 Tribune Content Agency.

(9) comments


Well we don't want to talk about guns in any kind of emotional way seeing as how they are never involved in emotional situations it's just unfair to do so just let cooler heads rein so we can keep the status quo shhh pipe down if you disagree


The NRA terrorizes me. It terrorizes every child in every school. Yes, they are terrorists.


Please share any evidence that the NRA does any of what you said. They do not. Never did, and never will. The NRA advocates for their six million members, protecting their 2A right to own a firearm. They have also advocated fore severe punishment of anyone violating the law using a firearm, including 18 USC 922 and 924. I guess you missed that part.


The NRA does not need to protect automatic and semI automatic weapons. If you can't hit what you are shooting at you shouldn't have a gun.


Again Dick? You have been unable to purchase an automatic weapon without a license since the 30s, and they cannot be newer than 1968. They now cost north of $20K, if you can even find one for sale. When was the last time an automatic weapon was used in a crime? You know this, so I dont understand why you keep bringing it up. As for semi-automatic firearms, half of all firearms sold, including pistols, rifles, and shotguns are semi auto. All a semi-automatic does is reload the gun for you. One trigger pull fires one round. Revolvers put the next round in place to fire also. You know this too! Shall we now ban and confiscate half of all firearms, which would be about 200 million? Good luck with that. Agreed with your last statement. Our inherent right to own firearms also conveys the responsibility of how to use them properly.


You can get a semi automatic and they are convertible to fully automatic. You know that Gabe. And you know there have been many shootings with semi automatics.

The Hughes Amendment banned civilian possession of automatic firearms manufactured after 1986. This froze the number of full auto guns in circulation and sent prices skyrocketing, a $600 M16 now costs over $20,000 because of the limited supply.

At the time the Hughes Amendment was passed no murders had been committed with legally owned automatic firearms since the NFA was passed. After the amendment one was committed by a police officer and there was one more than may have involved a full auto. So the amendment had absolutely no effect on crime.


No I don't know that Dick. Once again, you are conflating auto with semi-auto You talk about semi-auto being convertible to full auto, then say that many semi-autos are involved in shootings. Your first statement is not true*, and while the second is true, it does not follow from the first. None of those semi-automatics used in any shootings were converted into full-auto in those shootings. How many converted semi-automatics have ever been used in a shooting? *SOME semi-autos were once capable of such conversion (which BTW is a FELONY), but no longer. Bumpstocks are now illegal, as are the manufacture or possession of the conversion kits. The parts from a fully auto M16 are no longer compatible with the AR15. If one wished to do the conversion now, they would need a trained and highly skilled gunsmith. The conversion is beyond most owner's, and many gunsmiths capabilities. Even if you could find a skilled gunsmith willing to commit a felony for you (which would violate both the NFA of 1937, the GCA of 1968, 18 USC 922, and others), there is a high probability of leaving a trail that will result in your, and the gunsmiths, arrest, conviction, and sentencing of over 20 years on the 922 violations alone. Again, I will ask you, if it was so easy, as you say, why haven't any been converted to full-auto?

Thank you for finally agreeing, and providing evidence, that automatic firearms are not used in crime.


Still semi automatics are used in mass killings and the rate of fire along with large magazines contribute to the deaths and wounded. Here are some statistics, Gabe. Statista Research Department,last edited Sep 2, 2019This statistic shows the weapon types used in mass shootings in the United States between 1982 and August 31, 2019. These calculations are based on 115 mass shooting incidents reported by the source. A total of 55 rifles have been used in 47 mass shootings between 1982 and August 2019. While handguns are the most commonly used weapon type in mass shootings, assault rifles gained attention in public discussion over the suitability or necessity of semi-automatic rifles for the purpose of self-defense. Semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15 have been used in a number of mass-shootings including the Waffle House shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, and the El Paso, Texas Walmart mass shooting.


The Taliban kills US Troops and terrorizes US interests.

Russians funds the Taliban,

Russians fund the NRA

Lesson over

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