The FCC cleared the last hurdle on the path to eliminating net neutrality regulations earlier this week, starting a final 60-day waiting period that sets the effective date of repeal to April 23. To commemorate his success at shepherding the agency through the repeal process, the National Rifle Association conferred upon him its Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award (opens in new tab), which includes a plaque and a real, actual gun. "It’s a Kentucky handmade long gun," said the NRA's Carolyn Meadows, "and you’ll love it."
In his introduction of Pai at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Dan Schneider of the American Conservative Union said that after Pai was appointed to the FCC board by Barack Obama "because the Senate Republicans insisted that Ajit Pai be put on there," he fought tooth and nail, and ultimately unsuccessfully, against the Obama administration's efforts to "take over the internet."
"As soon as President Trump came into office, President Trump asked Ajit Pai to liberate the internet and give it back to you," Schneider told the audience, conveniently omitting the previously debunked claims from Pai and other Republicans that the Obama White House improperly used its power to influence the FCC's decisions regarding net neutrality (opens in new tab).
"Ajit Pai is the most courageous, heroic person that I know. He has received countless death threats. His property has been invaded by the George Soros crowd. He has a family and his family has been abused in different ways."
Regardless of what you think about net neutrality, there's no ignoring the obvious question: Why would the NRA give someone a gun for repealing FCC regulations? The answer is not exactly crystal clear.
"This award, which is not given every year, only when someone had stood up under pressure with grace and dignity and principled discipline," Meadows explained. "The awardees have included people like Rush Limbaugh, Phyllis Schlafly, Roy Innis, Vice President Mike Pence, and Sheriff David Clarke. And we are honored to have you as part of this distinguished pantheon."
As we said in our earlier report, what will happen in the wake of net neutrality deregulation is unclear. Opponents say it will enable ISPs to throttle or charge extra for services, effectively creating a tiered internet; those who support it believe that the marketplace will ensure that pricing and services remain competitive. Whatever happens, it's extremely relevant to PC gamers, as we broke down in this November analysis: PC gaming is an online endeavor, and these changes could have a serious impact on our ability to play.
Ironically—really ironically—the NRA wasn't allowed to actually bring the gun to CPAC. Both it, and the plaque, are waiting to be picked up at the NRA Museum.
Pai's award ceremony, via Media Matters, can be seen below.