The National Rifle Assn. filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging a new Los Angeles law requiring companies that seek contracts with the city to disclose whether they have ties to the gun rights group.
The suit was filed in federal court on behalf of the NRA, including a John Doe, who is described in court documents as an NRA member and business operator with several L.A. city contracts.
“Plaintiff Doe participates in this action as a Doe participant because he reasonably fears retribution from the city and the potential loss of lucrative contracts should Doe’s identity be known,” the lawsuit says.
City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell championed the new law, arguing in a motion he presented last year that city residents and stakeholders “deserve to know” whether taxpayer funds are being spent on contractors with ties to the NRA.
O’Farrell’s motion, also signed by Councilman Paul Krekorian, cites statistics about mass shootings and calls the NRA “one of the most significant roadblocks to sensible gun safety reform at every level of government across the nation.”
The City Council in February passed the ordinance, which states that prospective contractors must disclose under affidavit any contracts or sponsorships they or their subsidiaries have with the group.
NRA attorney Chuck Michel on Wednesday issued a statement saying the law represents “modern day McCarthyism.”
“Politicians are free to disagree with the NRA’s pro-freedom, firearm safety, and self-reliance message, but they aren’t free to censor it — as this would do when NRA supporters drop their NRA affiliations for fear of losing work from the city because they get put on this blacklist,” Michel said.
The NRA’s lawsuit states the city law violates the 1st Amendment rights of free speech and association and the 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law. The lawsuit asks the court to declare the law unconstitutional.
Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for City Atty. Mike Feuer, said his office will “vigorously defend the city’s ordinance.”
“The disclosure has no bearing on who does or does not receive a contract with the city,” O’Farrell spokesman Tony Arranaga said Wednesday. “This is for information only, not retaliation.”
Besides the NRA disclosure rule, the city has similar policies for companies involved in the construction of President Trump’s proposed border wall and those with connections to historic investments in or profits from slavery.
The City Council has backed several gun control measures, including one requiring Angelenos to lock up or disable their handguns at home if the guns aren’t close at hand.