Why doesn't the NRA challenge laws in court?

When the ACLU thinks that a new Federal or State law violates the First Amendment, they mount a lawsuit against the government to get the law overturned as Unconstitutional.

Why doesn’t the NRA do the same thing, whenever they think a new law violates the Second Amendment?

Before anyone engages in debate on this question, I wanted to point out a flaw in the initial premise. The ACLU does not “mount lawsuits” on First Amendment issues for the very simple reason that they lack legal standing. They and their lawyers will represent people who wish to mount challenges (and yes, they often solicit willing persons), and they might file amicus briefs, but the ACLU as an organization is not the named plaintiff in these suits.

I’m not sure why you think they don’t, tracer, because it appears to me they do challenge laws in court. Here, for instance, is the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund’s page describing what cases they support. It says, in part:

And here is a page, on the same site, that describes the NRA CRDF’s recent involvement in a number of court cases.

Also keep in mind First amendment challenges are more “interesting” to the masses (and therefore make it on the evening news) than second amendment challenges. The press (with their liberal bias :)) tends to avoid covering anti-gun control lawsuits.

They do, tracer.

The NRA was instrumental in overturning the federal requirement that imposed on local officials the obligation to conduct background checks and imposed waiting periods. See, e.g., Printz, Sheriff/Coroner, Ravalli County, Montana v. U.S., 000 U.S. 95-1478 (1995).

In the District of Columbia, National Rifle Association v. Reno was a case challenging the Justice Department’s six month record retention for approved gun purchasers under the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). *Springfield v. Magaw[/] challenged the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ interpretation of the codified “sporting purpose” test in 18 U.S.C § 925(d)(3). In Springfield Armory v. City of Columbus, the 6th U.S. Circuit struck down the city of Columbus’ “assault weapon” ban. The city created a new ban, which the NRA challenged again in People’s Rights Organization v. Columbus, and again the law was struck down as unconstitutional.

I could go on – but I guess I’m curious why your OP starts out with a proposition that is completely and demonstrably false. Perhaps a quick trip to GQ with the question, "Does the NRA spomsor lawsuits when they think laws violate the right to keep and bear arms? The quick chorus of ‘yes’ answers would have solved the problem nicely.

  • Rick

I don’t think that the NRA spends as much time in front of the Supreme Court though, and those are the really big cases, in terms of publicity. However, I think that’s probably more due to the Court’s reluctance to take Second Ammendment cases. Anyone know when the last time they heard a case on Second Ammendment grounds was?

tracer, they DO!

There was a case, I think in Miami, where the police received an anonymous tip that another person was carrying an illegal firearm. The police went to that person’s house, confirmed the tip, and arrested the man. The NRA challenged that the police could not constitutional deprive the man his rights on just an anonymous tip. And they won!!

The main reason being the fear of an oppressive government. If the police would be allowed to do this, then they could just do what ever they wanted and search whomever they wanted by claiming “Oh… well, um… errr… there was an annonynous tip that lead us here. Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

I agree with the NRA on this one.

Bear_Nenno, I doubt that that challenge was based on the second ammednment. But maybe I’m getting carried away with nitpicking.

That was likely based on the fourth amendment. (Illegal search and seizure.)

Perhaps they don’t have too. Last night I saw a report on MSNBC about Smith and Wesson. You know last year they agreed to put gun locks on their guns. Mainly to ward off some pending litigation. Of course the government called this a good thing and was pleased, but the NRA was pissed. Smith and Wesson sales began to drop immediately. Now they are seriously in the red with a drop in sales this year of over 35%. Also other gun manufacturers who were considering doing the same have changed their minds. Seems this kind of pressure does work almost as well as litigation, maybe better.


Granted. I thought we were just talking about the NRA challenging the courts.

I could be wrong…

But I think it was way back the 50’s.

There are a couple of cases working their way up now, but I think both sides have been cautious about appealing bad cases to the USSC. The Emerson case is the one I have been watching.

Believe me, I can’t wait for a good 2nd Amendment case to come up. I think the country deserves some clarification.

This is not what they agreed to. They had been shipping trigger locks voluntarily with their guns for years.

Here is a link straight to the agreement. (no biased commentary)


It wasn’t just the NRA. They do not buy firearms. It was the individuals who purchase firearms that expressed their disgust with S&W by refusing to purchase their otherwise quality products.

I think “this kind of pressure” is called a Free Market.

Everything you wanted to know about 2nd Amendment USSC cases.
There have been a ton of them, although they mostly nibble around the edges of the debate. The most recent one was 1995.

None of them took on the direct question of whether or not the 2nd confers a specific right for an individual to own firearms.

As to the OP: the ACLU does support the 2nd. Ad.; they support the “State’s Rights” view, not the “individual right”. While I (as well a a healthy chunk of the legal and historical scholastic community) disagree, the ACLU and its members are free to belive what they wish, and support those beliefs however they desire and have the means to do so.

Given our current legal environment, as well as social conditions, I think it would be unwise of either side of the Greater Debate to press too hard for a firm, declaritive statement from a bench, especially a higher one.

A quote from a movie (I think one made from a John Grisham book, probably the Rainmaker) caught my attention; not being a lawyer, I don’t know how accurately representative the quote is of the legal system, but it sounded like good advice anyway.

IIRC, the quote went something like:

In the “winner-take-all” mentality that has permeated the Greater Debate, I don’t think either side is willing to risk “it all” on anything less than "a sure thing.

As long as it doesn’t devolve into a “win-at-any/all-cost” mentality…well, let’s just say that the NRA and it’s adherents, as well as other like-minded “lurkers” (to borrow a phrase from the internet), are much better prepared to offer a final, resounding argument, and leave it at that.

My fear is that one of these “like-minded lurkers” may precipitate this legal “Armageddon”, provoked by rhetoric into asinine activity. Either side being equally capable of precipitating one of these loons, either individually or together, of course.

God knows Waco and Ruby Ridge didn’t help, or the broad and unflattering brush that Hollywierd likes to paint all gun-owners/2nd Ad. supporters with.

All-in-all, I don’t actually see the Greater Debate being too hot an issue except for certain geographical areas, noted for high crime/violence, or when it becomes a hot-button issue after the (thankfully) few incidents that reach the level of national attention and scrutiny.

I think that, nationally, we have bigger fish to fry than this issue, like abortion, civil rights for minorities and, as usual, the economy.

Taking care of civil rights and the economy may make “crime/gun control” a moot point.

Amok wrote:

Now this is why I like the Information Age [TM]. Not 3 hours after I post an incorrect assumption, it gets a reply correcting it and pointing me in the right direction. (I didn’t know about the NRA CRDF because its existence isn’t exactly given center spotlight on the NRA’s main webpage.) Ah, the beauty of modern technology.