Oct. 28, 2018 – Binghamton, NY – It was a normal fall Monday morning in the Southern Tier, with clouds and threat of light rain, when members of the Liberty First Foundation, news media, and members of the Binghamton Rifle Club gathered together. Spirits were quiet high among those present, not because of the weather but because a special guest was coming to the location – NRA president and well-decorated retired-Col. Oliver North.
The official reason for the visit was that the National Rifle Association, after releasing the amended 2018 ratings of candidates and elected officials in New York State on October 15th, had determined that their endorsement was clearly for the only candidate to maintain an “A” rating in the New York 22nd congressional race as stated by Col. North. That candidate is incumbent Congresswoman Claudia Tenney, who spoke about the 2nd Amendment saying in part,
“I want to talk a little bit about the Second Amendment. Everyone says its about hunting. It’s not about hunting, its about protecting us from tyranny, from our Government coming and taking our guns away from us…
There is no one more concerned about bad people owning a gun than law abiding gun owners. We are the ones with the most at stake.”
The Democrat challenger, Anthony Brindisi, had previously both touted and denounced his NRA rating received due to his anti-SAFE Act vote in 2013. But in 2018 alone, Brindisi had voted twice in favor of Red Flag legislation that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has promised to try to sign into law in 2019 if he is re-elected. Given the nature of the legislation, as has been previously discussed at the Liberty First Foundation website, and the vague explanation for his support of the Bills (as highlighted in video at an event in Owego, NY this summer), the NRA corrected the rating of Brindisi to 7% or an “F” rating.
But the issue of where the NRA stands on Red Flag legislation had been unclear for many Second Amendment supporters. While many elected officials and members of the press are unfamiliar with this legislation and its impact on Due Process, those gathered at the Binghamton event were quite aware and curious for an answer. On behalf of the Liberty First Foundation, Michael Vass led the assembled news media in asking directly where the NRA, NYSRPA, and Congresswoman Tenney stood on the issue that has already been presented to the Senate and planned to be submitted to the House of Representatives after the 2018 mid-term elections. No other news media organization followed up on this issue.
Rep. Tenney highlighted the unconstitutional nature of the legislation in her opinion. She and Tom King of NYSRPA were clear in their denouncement of the Red Flag legislation, while noting that the legislation remains a proposal at this time at the State and Federal levels. Col. North was far more direct in stating the position of the NRA on the matter. A position that not only opposes the legislation, but a willingness to challenge the proposal up to the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court.
“The whole issue that is most important, I think to all of us, is the lack of Due Process, that’s contained in the current version. It’s just totally unacceptable. Furthermore, if it did somehow get passed into law, it will be challenged all the way to the Supreme Court. And thanks to this President, the Supreme Court stands for the Constitution.”
Such strong statements in support of the Second Amendment and the rights of firearm owners across New York State and the nation was not missed by several in the media. Of note was that while none at the event would know until later in the day, a determined effort to mar the event, and gun owners, by connecting the appearance of Col. North with an act of evil by a madman 9 years prior was underway. The reaction by the general public, and several members of the press more privately, was as swift as it was strong in denouncing the blatant and unwarranted attack.
Separate of that isolated news media organization, the focus of the event for the rest of news media shifted to the comments of President Trump about the Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting the previous weekend. Col. North offered a potential solution to such events, citing the School Shield program of the NRA,
“I gave instructions yesterday that I want our leadership to look at how and if and when that kind of program could be expanded to include safety for places of worship.”
** We apologize for the poor quality of the video, a result of technological issues that delayed the publication of this article. **