January 15, 2004

The Dark Side of McCain-Feingold continues to sap at political speech.

IRS Moves to Threaten Second Amendment Newsletters, E-mail Alerts

Gun Owners of America E-Mail Alert
8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151
Phone: 703-321-8585 / FAX: 703-321-8408

Thursday, January 15

The ink is barely dry on the Supreme Court's devastating decision in
McConnell v. FEC -- the so-called campaign finance case that GOA was
involved in. That decision severely restricted broadcast
communications, thus making it more difficult for GOA to hold
legislators accountable on Second Amendment issues.

Now, the IRS is already leaping forward to expand the Court's ruling
to include GOA newsletters, e-mail alerts, and other Second
Amendment communications.

Put out for comment on December 23, 2003 -- when, presumably, no one
would notice -- proposed IRS Revenue Ruling 2004-6 creates a broad
new set of ambiguous standards which groups like GOA must follow in
order to avoid losing all or part of their tax-exempt status.

Under the proposed Revenue Ruling, the IRS would create a vague
"balancing test" to determine whether GOA communications would be
"permitted" by the government.

If the communication occurred close to an election, mentioned an
officeholder who was running for reelection, and was targeted to put
pressure on congressmen through constituents in each
representative's district, all of these factors would push toward
outlawing the communication.

Although the McCain-Feingold Incumbent Protection law was repressive
enough, the proposed Revenue Ruling would go far beyond this
anti-gun statute:

* Unlike McCain-Feingold, the proposed Revenue Ruling would not be
restricted to broadcast ads. Rather, it would apply to
newspaper ads, e-mail alerts, newsletters, and other
communications by organizations such as GOA.

* Unlike McCain-Feingold, the proposed Revenue Ruling would not
automatically exempt communications which occurred more than 60
days prior to an election -- or which fell below a certain
monetary threshold.

* Unlike McCain-Feingold, the proposed Revenue Ruling would
contain no fixed standards for compliance. Rather every GOA
newsletter or alert would have to be published with the
realization that the government, after the fact, could apply its
vague criteria to determine that is was "impermissible."

For example, when GOA learned that an anti-gun rider had been placed
on a Defense authorization bill in September 2000, GOA alerted its
members to this provision which would have allowed the Dept. of
Defense to confiscate and destroy any military surplus item that had
ever been sold by the government.

M1 Carbines, 1903 Springfields, Colt SAAs, uniforms, ammo, scopes --
and much more. All these privately-owned items could have been
confiscated and destroyed by the feds.

GOA generated a groundswell of nationwide opposition against the
confiscation attempt. But we especially targeted our focus on the
Senate Armed Services Committee.

The message evidently got through, as the Committee Chairman's
office called GOA to discuss this problem after he received hoards
of calls, postcards and e-mails from our members. The provision was
removed, and Second Amendment rights were preserved.

But had this IRS regulation been in effect in 2000, the agency
(which then was under Clinton's control) could have RETROACTIVELY
punished GOA, stating that our activity would have been
impermissible if just one of the targeted Senators had been facing

This new regulation would allow lawmakers to load up gun bills prior
to an election, secure in the knowledge that GOA won't be able to
let you guys know about them in time.

GOA has formally lodged a protest with the IRS regarding this
expansion and abuse of power. To read the GOA comments, go to
http://www.gunowners.org/fs0403.htm on the web.

It is imperative that this rule be defeated!

ACTION: Contact your congressmen. Ask them to write the IRS and
demand that it withdraw proposed Revenue Ruling 2004-6. You can
contact your Representative and Senators by visiting the Gun Owners
Legislative Action Center at http://www.gunowners.org/activism.htm
to send them a pre-written e-mail message.

Your Representative and Senators must submit their comments to the
IRS by January 26.

John | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (4) | Gun Rights | Politics
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