National Review Online falsely claims Kagan “apparently tied” the NRA to the KKK

National Review Online's Robert VerBruggen falsely claimed that in a document she wrote as a Clinton administration official, Elena Kagan “apparently tied the NRA to the KKK.” In fact, Kagan did no such thing.

From a June 18 National Review Online blog post headlined “Did Kagan Compare the NRA with the KKK”:

National Review has learned that in 1996, Kagan apparently tied the NRA to the KKK -- yes, the KKK -- while debating the Clinton administration's position on a bill.


Two documents discovered at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and obtained by National Review suggest that Kagan was involved in these discussions. One does not contain her name, but the handwriting appears to be hers. (You can see an example of Kagan's handwriting here.) It has the name of administration colleague Fran Allegra at the top, and lists two “Bad guy orgs” that might be covered -- the NRA and the KKK.


Is Kagan so hostile to gun rights that she would compare the top gun-rights organization in the United States with a viciously racist hate group? It sure looks that way. We look forward to her explanation.

Kagan did not tie NRA to KKK

Memo sent to Kagan listed NRA and KKK as two organizations who might not benefit from bill. The National Review Online blog post points to two documents, a memo sent to Kagan and her notes on the memo. The memo dealt with the proposed Volunteer Protection Act, which would limit the tort liability of some non-profits. The memo Kagan received stated that the National Rifle Association and Ku Klux Klan would not receive protection under the act. It later said: "[W]e probably need to be careful about suggesting that 'bad' organizations will qualify for the provision in the bill as it would suggest that we are allowing 'bad' organizations to qualify for tax-exempt status."

In notes following the memo, Kagan did not “tie” the NRA to the KKK. In handwritten notes, Kagan wrote: “Bad guy orgs -- not NRA ... not KKK.” Nowhere in the memo or the handwritten notes, did Kagan say that the NRA was “tied” to the KKK.

The year before the memo was written, the NRA had called federal agents “jack-booted government thugs”

In 1995 fund-raising letter, the NRA referred to ATF agents as “jack-booted government thugs.” An April 26, 1995 Washington Post article (retrieved from Nexis) reported:

“If you have a badge, you have the government's go-ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law-abiding citizens,” said a recent NRA solicitation letter signed by [NRA executive Vice President Wayne] LaPierre. “Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge . . . Waco and the Branch Davidians. . . . Not too long ago, it was unthinkable for federal agents wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms to attack law-abiding citizens. Not today.”

The solicitation calls for lifting the assault weapons ban to even the odds in the struggle between ordinary citizens and “jack-booted government thugs [who have] more power to take away our constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property, and even injure or kill us.”

NRA's LaPierre reaffirmed “jack-booted government thugs” statement in aftermath of Oklahoma City bombing. The Oklahoma City bombing occurred on April 19, 1995. The Associated Press reported on May 1, 1995:

The National Rifle Association's top official defended the inflammatory language his organization has used about federal agents, saying yesterday that references to “jack-booted government thugs” are accurate.

“Those words are not far, in fact they are a pretty close description of what's happening in the real world,” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne La- Pierre said on NBC's “Meet the Press.” The NRA's attack on federal agents, made in a fund-raising letter, has been cited as an example of the kind of rhetoric that creates a climate for violent acts such as the Oklahoma City bombing. LaPierre insisted that is not the case.

LaPierre subsequently apologized for the “jack-booted government thugs” statement.

George H.W. Bush resigned his membership in NRA over “jack-booted government thugs” comment. Former President George H.W. Bush resigned from the NRA in protest of the “jack-booted thugs” statement.