But I would expect something a little more sophisticated from the Chronicle of Philanthropy. And yet there was Pablo Eisenberg, senior fellow at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, explaining how if nonprofits focused less on the charitable tax deduction and more on lobbying for gun control, the country would be a better place:
In throwing their weight behind this narrow effort [maintaining the tax deduction], nonprofit leaders demonstrated once again their lack of concern about major issues that threaten not only the national interest but the stability of the nonprofit world itself.
Why focus on the charitable deduction and not on more important issues such as gun violence, or the public accountability of nonprofits, or the need for a substantial increase in foundation money, or the preservation of important social safety-net programs?
Yes, because when organizations that have nothing to do with gun issues do not lobby the federal government about it, they show that they are not concerned about the national interest. Really? Eisenberg doesn't really explain how gun control would prevent tragedies like that in Newtown. That's simply taken for granted.
The Wall Street Journal published a number of useful pieces on the subject since the shooting, but the best was this one by David Kopel, in which he shows that lax gun laws are in now way responsible for the increase in random mass shootings that has taken place over the past couple of decades:
Why the increase? It cannot be because gun-control laws have become more lax. Before the 1968 Gun Control Act, there were almost no federal gun-control laws. The exception was the National Firearms Act of 1934, which set up an extremely severe registration and tax system for automatic weapons and has remained in force for 78 years.
Nor are magazines holding more than 10 rounds something new. They were invented decades ago and have long been standard for many handguns.
Never mind that Connecticut has some of the strictest gun laws in the country and that every new regulation that has been proposed would not have posed a problem for Adam Lanza's mother, who was the owner of the guns used in the shooting.
But let's get back to Eisenberg's strained argument. Even if gun control would prevent tragedies like Newtown, it's hard to see why it's the job of all the country's nonprofits to take on this role. He writes:
Perhaps the Newtown massacre can offer a new, redemptive leadership opportunity for nonprofits. Gun violence affects every cause nonprofits focus on. It bedevils schools, health institutions, and domestic violence groups, and is a key concern of social-change organizations. What’s more, the rampages of gun violence have put nonprofit offices and religious institutions in harm’s way.
Come on. By this logic, what legislation should nonprofits not lobby for? Maybe we should have stricter drug laws? Drugs bedevil schools, health institutions and domestic violence groups. They are a key concern of social-change organizations, etc. etc. Or what about mental illness? Or alcohol abuse? Or obesity? Or sexually transmitted diseases? Or air pollution?
Well, that's the point, Eisenberg thinks that nonprofits need to concern themselves more with the "common good." It doesn't matter what their donors gave the money for. It doesn't matter whether such lobbying distracts from their real mission. What matters is that this large group of nonprofit employees throw their energy and resources into politics. The only way to show you care is by supporting left wing political causes. This is such a stripped down view of the nonprofit world. Thousands of organizations with diverse missions and billions of dollars -- all just tools for Mr. Eisenberg's political ends. How sad.