AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The claims that the National Rifle Association is responsible for some shenanigans with its finances is news to the ears of gun control zealots who are continually convinced that the NRA is the only reason they can’t take all of our guns away right here and now. They hope this means the organization’s demise.

However, the “turmoil” within the NRA isn’t the threat to the Second Amendment anti-gunners think it is. Not at all.

As John Lott points out, there’s something far more insidious that should concern gun rights supporters.

The announcement Saturday that Oliver North is stepping down as president of the National Rifle Association – following news that the New York attorney general is investigating the group’s tax-exempt status – has sparked overwrought media speculation that the NRA is in danger of shutting down.

It’s not.

Try as they might, those on the left cannot wish the Second Amendment out of existence. But if they can silence the NRA they will deprive the amendment – and every American – of an important defender of our freedom.

The NRA has faced numerous challenges in recent years. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gives hundreds of millions of dollars each year to fund his gun control organizations, fund research that supports gun controls, and support political campaigns of candidates hostile to allowing individuals defending themselves.

This past year, Bloomberg spent $110 million just on Democratic campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives. He devoted similar amounts to state-level races.

The state of New York, where the NRA is incorporated, has been particularly hostile to the nonprofit organization. State Attorney General Letitia James is investigating the NRA’s nonprofit status. Her office sent letters to the NRA and affiliated entities Friday to preserve relevant records for that investigation.

This action by James is reminiscent of how the Obama administration used the Internal Revenue Service to deny tax-exempt status to those it disagreed with politically and tilt the 2012 election toward Democrats.

Recently, I gave a talk to my son’s high school government class. Speaking with the teacher beforehand, I mentioned that I’d have to touch on the Bill of Rights as a whole because I consider them all connected. As Lott points out, an attack on the First Amendment is essential to undermine the Second Amendment.

The idea is simple. Undermine the NRA by destroying the First Amendment protections that make it effective and you can undermine the Second Amendment.

The NRA, in and of itself, isn’t the sole defender of the Second Amendment. If the NRA were to disappear forever, members would flock to other gun rights groups such as Gun Owners of America or The Second Amendment Foundation and continue fighting. One of those would likely take the helm of gun rights defense in this country, and little else would change.

After all, the NRA’s power is its membership.

If, on the other hand, you start attacking these groups and undermining their ability to defend the Second Amendment at all by violating the First Amendment protections that keep all advocacy groups afloat, it becomes impossible to mount any meaningful defense of the Second.

However, gun control advocates should be wary of this sort of thing. If a power such as this is used against one’s opponents, you shouldn’t be surprised when the opponents do it themselves. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle after something like that.

At stake right now isn’t just the Second Amendment, but ultimately, the Bill of Rights as a whole.