I’m guessing the kids working at the Trace don’t get out much. They don’t seem to have a lot of life experience.
The Trace is, of course, the propaganda arm of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Astroturf (not grassroots) anti-gun empire. The Trace describes itself as the “only newsroom dedicated to reporting on gun violence,” but a newsroom it is not. The Trace supplies propaganda for Bloomberg’s other anti-gun groups, which include Everytown and Demanding Moms, as well as any members of the media willing to cut and paste their stories. Reporters at the Trace are activists, not journalists. They advocate for more gun control. That’s why Bloomberg pays them.
One of their young’uns must have learned about amicus briefs in school recently, because he penned a breathless piece of agitprop, titled: “The NRA Paid a Gun Rights Activist to File SCOTUS Briefs. He Didn’t Disclose it to the Court.”
“The NRA Foundation has paid an attorney and Second Amendment activist to write favorable briefs in Supreme Court cases, suggests a hacked document released on the dark web last week,” the Trace story claims. “Interest groups, including those fueled by dark money, seek influence at the Supreme Court in a range of ways, one being the production of amicus, or friend-of-the-court, briefs, which often extend and amplify the arguments of one side in a case.”
The author, Will Van Sant, wrote that amici authors must disclose who paid for their work, and he claimed that a brief written by David Kopel on behalf of NRA Foundation “makes no such admission.”
Kopel, I should point out, is a distinguished Second Amendment scholar with the Independence Institute. He has written amicus briefs in scores of legal cases involving the right to keep and bear arms. He has also written law school curriculum, dozens of scholarly articles and op-ed columns about every aspect of firearm policy in America and worldwide. It was his recent brief for what could be the most significant gun-rights case ever to come before the Supreme Court, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which drew the Trace’s ire.
There are more than 80 amicus briefs filed with the court for this landmark case, from both sides. I wonder whether the Trace activist bothered to check the bona fides of the briefs submitted by his boss or the other gun prohibitionists. In fact, I wonder why this even became a story. Amicus briefs are certainly nothing new, regardless of whether Van Sant just learned about them in a Law 101 class. (Trust me, Will, they’re actually used quite often.)
As to the dark web, dark money and hacked Russian documents allegations, while they sound nefarious and add a certain James Bond-type tone to the story, the NRA Foundation’s support for Kopel and his employer is a matter of public record. The info is right there in the Foundation’s tax documents, which are posted online and available for the whole world to see – no undercover trips to Moscow needed.
I reached out to NRA for comment and they directed me to Marion Hammer, former NRA president and a current board member who also serves as NRA’s Florida lobbyist.
She laughed at the secret-squirrel tone of the Trace’s story.
“For decades, and even before I was NRA President, the National Rifle Association and The NRA Foundation have carried out their nonprofit charitable missions by funding Second Amendment scholarship and education. This has never been a secret,” Hammer said. “NRA funds academic research and fact production because NRA wants the truth, not fake propaganda deliberately manufactured by Second Amendment haters for the purpose of deception.”
The funding provided by The NRA Foundation to the Independence Institute was not for Kopel to write any particular brief or other work, and the Independence Institute didn’t receive NRA Foundation funding during the period when the brief was written and filed, she explained.
“The article suggests that Mr. Kopel needed to disclose past NRA Foundation funding in his briefs. Well, what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander,” she said. “Perhaps a follow-up article by the Trace will discuss briefs written by people who received funding from Michael Bloomberg or the many anti-Second Amendment groups he funds, and what disclosures were made there. When will we see an article about how the billions from Bloomberg or other billionaires are spent on gun control? How about a simple display on their site stating who funds them and what their agenda is? I’m not holding my breath.”
Neither am I.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]