San Francisco brands the NRA as a terroist organization

  • 9 September 2019
  • NormanL

There are times when self-parody goes beyond humor, and becomes pathetic. San Francisco's politicans have done just that. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Walter Olson tells how the local board of supervisors declared the NRA and its members a domestic terrorist group. But to do so, the board had to savage the English language:

[Lawmakers] suggest terrorism occurs anytime someone uses a “weapon” to threaten others’ personal safety or “substantial” property damage. They try to attribute this view to the U.S. Justice Department, ignoring all the other elements that distinguish terrorism from other types of armed crime, such as that criminal acts be used to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or government target.

An even greater problem for the supervisors is that the NRA and its members are generally law-abiding. The resolution therefore claims that even otherwise lawful acts—such as training or providing funds—that assists or enables someone you should have known might misuse weapons constitutes “material support.” That includes the NRA’s “advocacy,” “propaganda” and “promotion” both of gun ownership and of “extremist positions.” In a word, speech. Thus the supervisors purport to classify as terrorism the expression of opinions with which they disagree.

The resolution is mostly symbolic, but it does order city officials to “take every reasonable step to limit those entities who do business with the City and County of San Francisco from doing business with” the NRA. That’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

But it fits the wider narrative embraced in some town halls that conservative ideas, groups, or companies are wrong -- or even evil. We appreciate the need for a robust, open debate about guns and gun policy. Actions such as San Francisco's make such a debate nearly impossible.