NRA files lawsuit after San Francisco labels gun lobby a “domestic terrorist organization”

The lawsuit alleges that San Francisco has violated the First Amendment rights of its members

By Matthew Rozsa
September 10, 2019 11:39PM (UTC)
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The National Rifle Association(NRA) headquarters is seen March 14, 2013, in Fairfax, Virginia. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is suing the city of San Francisco after the California city officially labeled the pro-gun lobby as a "domestic terrorist organization."

The lawsuit alleges that San Francisco has violated the First Amendment rights of its members and effectively attempted to "blacklist anyone linked to the NRA," according to the New York Times.


Catherine Stefani, a supervisor of the San Francisco board, dismissed the NRA's complaints.

“It’s a resolution,” Stefani said. “It’s not an ordinance. It’s non-binding."

She added, "This is a desperate move by a desperate organization. They misspend their members’ dues for their personal gain, they have many pending investigations against them and they continue to perpetuate a culture of sick and pervasive gun violence in this country. Their time is up."


The NRA, in contrast, argued that the actions of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors “pose a non-frivolous constitutional threat.”

"In the face of recent, similar blacklisting schemes, financial institutions have expressed reluctance to provide bank accounts for disfavored political groups, and city contractors fear losing their livelihoods if they support or even work with the NRA," the organization said in its lawsuit.

The resolution passed last week noted the recent shooting at a garlic festival in Gilroy, Calif., which killed three people. That community is located just south of San Francisco.


After labeling the NRA as a "domestic terrorist organization," the resolution stated that "the National Rifle Association musters its considerable wealth and organizational strength to promote gun ownership and incite gun owners to acts of violence. The National Rifle Association spreads propaganda that misinforms and aims to deceive the public about the dangers of gun violence and . . . the leadership of National Rifle Association promotes extremist positions, in defiance of the views of a majority of its membership and the public and undermine the general welfare."

The resolution also called on officials from the city of San Francisco to reevaluate their relationships with companies which do business with the NRA.


"The City and County of San Francisco should take every reasonable step to limit those entities who do business with the City and County of San Francisco from doing business with this domestic terrorist organization," the resolution added.

Stefani told KQED at the time that "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. 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."

NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter responded to the resolution by saying, "The board is wasting taxpayer dollars to declare five million law-abiding Americans domestic terrorists, and it’s shameful."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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