The San Francisco Board of Supervisors last week unanimously passed a resolution branding the National Rifle Association a “domestic terrorist organization.” The mostly-symbolic resolution called for the city to “assess the financial and contractual relationships our vendors and contractors have with this domestic terrorist organization… [and] limit those entities who do business with the City… from doing business with this domestic terrorist organization.”
At the time, NRA public affairs director Andrew Arulanandam told Rolling Stone the resolution represented “an unprovoked assault on the First Amendment rights of millions of law abiding Americans for exercising their fundamental constitutional rights.”
Now the NRA is suing. The organization filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Tuesday naming the city, county, and all 11 members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, accusing the board of blacklisting anyone linked to the NRA, discriminating against the organization on the basis of its “political speech.” The suit notes that courts in Los Angeles and New York have ruled in favor of the organization on similar First Amendment grounds.
“It’s unfortunate the NRA would rather run to court than do something about the epidemic of gun violence in our country,” John Coté, spokesperson for San Francisco’s City Attorney, said in a statement responding to the lawsuit. “The American people would be better served if the NRA stopped trying to get weapons of war into our communities and instead actually did something about gun safety. Common-sense safety measures like universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and restricting high-capacity magazines would be a good start.”
At various points in the suit, the NRA’s lawyers accuse the board of using “McCarthyist elements” to pass a resolution it alternately classifies as “a frivolous insult,” “a nonfrivolous Constitutional threat,” “an undisguised political vendetta,” and “the establishment of an implicit censorship regime.”
The lawsuit also lists, 11 times, the address and specific room where the supervisors work. That’s typical practice in a lawsuit like this one, but it stands out somewhat chillingly among all the paranoid language of the lawsuit in this case because the address is inside San Francisco City Hall where, in 1978, San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were shot to death by a disgruntled ex-colleague.
The NRA is seeking an injunction to stop the resolution from going into effect. Absent an injunction, the lawyers say, “the NRA, its members and supporters will suffer irrevocable loss and irreparable harm if the members and supporters are unable to obtain government contracts because of their constitutionally-protected rights, or if the NRA is deprived of vendor, contractor, member or donor relationships when persons intimidated by the resolution sever their NRA ties.”
The NRA, which is going through some financial difficulties at the moment, is also demanding the Supes cover its legal fees in this matter.