2008-10-09 / Letters

NRA's Campaign Against Obama False, Misleading

To The Editor:

The IRS grants tax-exempt status to nonprofit charitable organizations, religious or secular, if they request it, and if they engage in the activities for which they are established and agree not to endorse political candidates or engage in political propaganda campaigns. Organizations that violate this pledge jeopardize their tax-exempt status, and place their donors at risk of not being able to deduct contributions.

Individuals may express themselves freely on political issues and candidates, as long as they make it clear that their statements are personal and do not represent the policy of a tax-exempt organization. First Amendment guarantees of individual rights to freedom of speech are secure, but organizations must not be allowed to accept tax-exempt status and then violate the rules under which they and their members benefit.

If nonprofit organizations, and those who officially represent them, insist on ignoring the laws under which they receive preferential economic advantages, their tax-exempt status should be revoked. If our government is unwilling to enforce the tax laws regarding nonprofit organizations, perhaps we should repeal the laws and let all organizations survive on a level playing field with regular businesses.

Some nonprofit organizations have been flagrantly violating their pledge to refrain from engaging in propaganda for or against political candidates. Daniel Malloy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Sunday, October 5, 2008) recently reported that presidential candidate Barack Obama is the target of a "multimillion dollar ad campaign by the National Rifle Association."

Mr. Malloy is correct. The NRA, a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization, is carrying on a false and misleading propaganda campaign against Sen. Obama, in violation of its nonprofit charter. An NRA-produced TV ad was recently fact-checked and found to include "significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions" (see Washington Post, September 23, 2008). Apparently the NRA is unwilling to play by the rules.

That the modern NRA is cheating does not surprise me. It used to be an honorable organization. Dad was a life member of the NRA, and I joined about 30 years ago. I am entirely supportive of the Second Amendment and the rest of the Constitution, but I quit the NRA awhile back, when it became clear to me that the NRA was promoting policies that favor the well-being of the firearms industry over public safety and law enforcement.

The organization now promotes paranoia and deliberately deceives ordinary people into believing that there is a vast conspiracy to take away their rights to have firearms for hunting and self-defense. The "new" NRA promotes access to combat-style assault weapons and armor-piercing ammunition by mentally unstable people and bizarre extremists ranging from Maoists to white supremacist neo-Nazis.

Sen. Obama does not seek to "increase taxes on firearms or ammunition." He has not voted to "ban deer hunting ammunition," as the ad claims. He has not supported a "ban on the shotguns and rifles most of us use for hunting." These claims are simply lies designed to promote fear and distrust at a time when we should be pulling together to solve the real problems that face our nation and the world. Joe Erwin Needmore, PA 17238

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