The NRA is rightly catching a lot of flack for dropping its opposition to the DISCLOSE Act on the condition that it is shielded from the law’s provisions. But, in truth, it was simply responding to the incentives provided by a political system in which it is accepted that the government can limit speech with so-called "campaign finance" laws. Limiting the overall amount of speech puts the government in position to ration speech. The result is a zero-sum game in which groups are left to duke it out in the political process in order to determine who gets how much of the speech pie.
It’s no surprise that the victors will be those well-established powerful groups, like the NRA, that have the most political muscle. Smaller, less-established groups will inevitably lose out. (Remember that the next time someone tells you that "campaign finance reform" benefits the little guy.)
Yes, it’s outrageous that the NRA sold out the latter groups in order to guarantee its government-apportioned allotment of speech. But it’s a predictable result of what happens when Congress—having eschewed a free market in speech—arrogates to itself the power to dole out those allotments. Yet another reason why the public should demand a return to the United States’ first, and still best, policy on speech: "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech."