The suit, filed on Monday, Sept. 9, targets the City and County of San Francisco and every member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, which last week passed a resolution adopting the terrorist organization label with respect to the gun rights advocacy group.
According to the NRA’s complaint, the resolution is “obviously unconstitutional,” and violates the First Amendment right to free speech and freedom of association of members by trying to “blacklist anyone linked to the NRA.”
“The government cannot apply its powers in a targeted, adverse manner against those with whom it disagrees,” the NRA alleges in the filing. “And the government certainly cannot do so in order to stifle or punish disfavored speech.”
Besides adopting the controversial designation with regard to the NRA—whose stated mission is “preserving the core of our American values and traditions in our steadfast effort to Teach Freedom”—the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has also urged city, state, and federal authorities to apply the terrorist label.
The Board of Supervisors’ resolution (pdf) accuses the NRA of inciting “gun owners to acts of violence” and spreading “propaganda that misinforms and aims to deceive the public about the dangers of gun violence.” It also encouraged the city to assess the relationship of vendors who may have affiliation with the NRA and who also do business with the city, and to then limit these vendors from doing business with the NRA.
Responding to the resolution, the NRA said in a statement to The Epoch Times: “This is just another worthless and disgusting ‘soundbite remedy’ to the violence epidemic gripping our nation. The same kind of attack the NRA has confronted in New York.”
“This is a reckless assault on a law-abiding organization, its members, and the freedoms they all stand for. We remain undeterred—guided by our values and belief in those who want to find real solutions to gun violence,” the organization added.
In a separate statement, NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter referred to the resolution as a “ludicrous stunt” that attempts “to distract from the real problems facing San Francisco, such as rampant homelessness, drug abuse, and skyrocketing petty crime.”
The organization’s lawsuit further states: “The NRA’s nearly five million members include countless military veterans, first responders, and law enforcement officers who have risked everything to protect Americans from terrorism. Therefore, the Resolution’s ‘terrorist’ designation is a frivolous insult—but San Francisco’s actions pose a nonfrivolous constitutional threat.”
The suit calls for a trial by jury “on all issues so triable,” and argues for damages and an injunction.
‘Had It Coming’
The San Francisco resolution is a statement of policy as opposed to enforceable legislation. It accuses the NRA, without citing evidence, of “incit[ing] gun owners to acts of violence” and “spread[ing] propaganda that misinforms and aims to deceive the public about the dangers of gun violence.”
Catherine Stefani, District 2 supervisor who introduced the San Francisco resolution, told Fox affiliate KTVU that she thinks the NRA had “it coming to them.”
“I will do everything that I possibly can to call them out on what they are, which is a domestic terrorist organization,” she told the news broadcaster.
“The NRA conspires to limit gun violence research, restrict gun violence data sharing, and most importantly, aggressively tries to block every piece of sensible gun violence prevention legislation proposed on any level; local, state, or federal,” she said.
“When they use phrases like, ‘I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands’ on bumper stickers, they are saying reasoned debate about public safety should be met with violence.”
The news outlet reported that Stefani, a gun violence prevention activist, wrote the resolution after the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California that left three people dead in July. The resolution cites the incident and the three victims of the shooting.
The designation comes amid a heated debate over gun ownership with Democratic lawmakers and 2020 candidates pushing for stricter gun control following mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has acknowledged that gun violence is a national public health emergency but emphasized the problem is not with guns rather the people pulling the trigger, reiterating that the mentally ill should not have guns.
“We also have to remember the gun doesn’t pull the trigger, a person does,” Trump said on Aug. 21.
He has repeatedly said his administration was working on expanding background checks and considered other measures like red flag laws to curb gun violence.
“We’re working on background checks. There are things we can do. But we already have very serious background checks. We have strong background checks. We can close up the gaps. We can do things that are very good and things that, frankly, gun owners want to have done,” Trump said.
He also noted that he was talking to people from all sides including Democrats, Republicans, the NRA, and gun owners to come up with a “meaningful” solution.
The Associated Press and Epoch Times reporter Janita Kan contributed to this report.