NRA: New York Lawsuit to Kill Group is a 'Political Vendetta'
The country's largest and oldest Second Amendment group says that New York politicians are trying to destroy the NRA right before a critical election.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democratic activist who campaigned on a promise to "take down the NRA" and won election as an ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2018, began her inquiry into the NRA in February 2019, just after she took office. Since then, she has termed the group interchangeably in interviews as a “terrorist organization” and a “criminal enterprise." This week, she announced a lawsuit in state court against the pro-gun organization, which has its 501(c)(4) not-for-profit, charitable corporation charter in New York, as well as four current and former officers.
Claiming the group has lost $64 million in the past three years through self-dealing, mismanagement, and negligence, James said "we seek to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law."
The NRA fired back immediately, filing a lawsuit in federal court against James, contending the group complies with New York not-for-profit law and that the AG is trying to deprive the organization, its members, and its donors of their constitutional right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment because she does not like what they have to say.
"This was a baseless, premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend,” said NRA President Carolyn Meadows. "You could have set your watch by it: the investigation was going to reach its crescendo as we move into the 2020 election cycle. It’s a transparent attempt to score political points and attack the leading voice in opposition to the leftist agenda. This has been a power grab by a political opportunist – a desperate move that is part of a rank political vendetta"
James has long garnered headlines by loudly going after the firearms industry. While the New York City Employee Retirement System trustee in 2015, James moved forward with a plan to end the body's investment in companies that sell firearms. As New York City's Public Advocate, she prodded the SEC to investigate both Ruger and Smith & Wesson while trying to join a lawsuit against Wal-Mart's over ammo sales.
Coming to the NRA's defense
Elsewhere in the gun industry, the National Shooting Sports Foundation called the action by the New York Attorney General troubling, saying the trade group was "deeply concerned about the apparent political agenda to silence the strongest voice in support of the Second Amendment ahead of the election in November."
Outside of New York this week, a group of Republican state attorneys general joined the NRA on the barricades against James, issuing a statement slamming the effort to dissolve the 5-million-member group manipulation of the legal system for political gain.
“Lawless liberals have hit a new low in their pursuit of defunding the police, discarding the Second Amendment, and deterring our ability to protect ourselves," said Republican Attorneys General Association Chairman Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. "The New York Attorney General is shamefully abusing her power to target a political adversary, the same way a Saint Louis prosecutor did last month when she took guns away from citizens trying to protect themselves. This action is no different than what Democrats did during the shameful impeachment of President Trump: an attempt to use the levers of government to go after political opponents."
Meanwhile, President Trump weighed in on the James vs NRA effort, saying it was a "terrible thing" and suggesting that Texas would be a "great place and an appropriate place for the NRA."
Gaining members and planning to spend millions
While anti-gun groups like Brady, Everytown, and Giffords gushed with joy in podcasts and press releases while firing off urgent emails asking for more donations to continue their quest for more gun control, the NRA still plans to show up in the days leading to the election.
Jason Ouimet, head of the NRA's lobbying arm, told the Washington Free Beacon recently that the organization plans to "spend tens of millions of dollars" in key battleground states this election cycle, and, while the group took a significant hit to its coffers with the COVID-19-sparked cancellation of its annual meeting this year, it has been attracting 1,000 new members a day since June.
"We've got a massive grassroots army, a massive grassroots army," Ouimet said. "They're not paid for by any one person or any group of billionaires. These are folks who joined on their own who got skin in the game, who go out to vote and who advocate for the issue."