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What San Francisco Got Wrong About the NRA and Its Definition of Domestic Terrorism

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File

The city of San Francisco continued to blur the lines between reality and parody last week after its Board of Supervisors declared that the National Rifle Association were a “domestic terrorist organization.” The resolution was passed unanimously by city lawmakers, and was introduced by Supervisor Catherine Stefani in response to the Gilroy garlic festival shooting.


Those who have been following the hugely divisive gun debate will certainly not be surprised by the reactions from either side. Stefani claimed that “The N.R.A. exists to spread pro-gun propaganda and put weapons in the hands of those who would harm and terrorize us,” while the N.R.A. rejected this action as nothing more than a publicity stunt, with a spokeswoman stating that “This is a reckless assault on a law-abiding organization, its members, and the freedoms they all stand for. We remain undeterred by our values and belief in those who want to find real solutions to gun violence.”

San Francisco is certainly no stranger to criticism from conservatives. Many who opposed this resolution pointed to the multitude of legitimate concerns facing the city, from the human faeces and used needles littering the streets to the city’s refusal to declare that the violent radical organization “Antifa” are themselves a domestic terrorist organization.
 It is certainly true that San Francisco has a growing problem with the increasingly appalling living conditions created by widespread “progressive” policies. It is also undeniably true that the failure to declare that Antifa is a domestic terrorist organization is deeply hypocritical. However, any attempt to decry this decision by pointing to other “more important” problems, or by comparing the N.R.A. to “worse” organizations, is actually counter-productive.


The fact is that the declaration made by San Francisco is objectively incorrect. This remains true regardless of whether “more pressing” issues exist, or other organizations are “more deserving” of this label. 

Indeed, by rejecting this declaration by citing other irrelevant factors has the effect of subtly accepting the Left’s premise that the N.R.A. could be defined as a domestic terrorist organization. Sure, the streets of San Francisco are indistinguishable from those of a Third World country, but does that mean that their decision regarding the N.R.A. would be valid if their streets were made of shining marble and gold? Sure, Antifa is arguably a domestic terrorist organization, but does that mean that the N.R.A. is not?

In reality, the invalidity of this declaration by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is self-evidently obvious. According to U.S. law (18 U.S. Code §?2331)

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that -

A. involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

B. appear to be intended -

  • to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
  • to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
  • to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

C. occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States; …

It is safe to assume that many who are celebrating this declaration are not aware (intentionally or otherwise) of the lawful definition of domestic terrorism. Similarly, they are probably unaware of the N.R.A.’s mission, which includes a heavy focus on firearms safety and education. The radical Left capitalize on this pervasive ignorance by driving their quest for political victory through the complete dismissal and redefinition of language, resulting in the recognizable tactic of labeling anyone with whom they disagree as inherently and vehemently evil.

The fact is that they will continue to rely on this utterly immoral strategy, regardless of the state of the cities under their control or the actions of violent organizations on the Left. The Right must refuse to become distracted by other irrelevant factors, and identify the underlying issue - the Left’s growing stranglehold on our language.

The N.R.A. is not a domestic terrorist organization. Not because San Francisco is a city sinking beneath the literal feces of Leftist policy. Not because there are arguably “worse” organizations which the Left haven’t condemned. Not because N.R.A. members like you or me don’t self-identify as members of a terrorist organization. 


They are not a domestic terrorist organization because they are not a domestic terrorist organization by the definition of domestic terrorism. It’s that simple.

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