The National Rifle Association, the nation’s foremost gun-advocacy organization has filed a lawsuit against the state of New York for practices it says, is causing it irreparable harm. The actions are “a blatant attack on the First Amendment rights of our organization,” NRA attorney William Brewer told The Hill magazine.
As a result of New York’s actions, the NRA is “suffering setbacks with respect to the availability of insurance and banking services” that will “further harm the NRA, chill the commercial activities of institutions regulated by DFS, and penalize law-abiding New York insurance consumers,” Brewer said.
The NRA’s very existence is at stake the organization says.
“If the NRA is unable to collect donations from its members, safeguard the assets endowed to it, apply its funds to cover media buys and other expenses integral to its political speech, and obtain basic corporate insurance coverage, it will be unable to exist as a not-for-profit or pursue its advocacy mission.”
The lawsuit stems from actions taken by New York State to discourage financial services firms from covering the NRA’s “Carry Guard.” Carry Guard is insurance for NRA members that grants civil as well as criminal defense protection in situations where members have discharged their firearms legally.
New York State regulators, specifically its Department of Financial Services, found the insurance illegal under New York state law and ordered insurers to stop selling the policies and pay millions of dollars in fines.
The NRA says the actions are politically motivated.
“This case is necessitated by an overt viewpoint-based discrimination campaign against the
NRA and the millions of law-abiding gun owners that it represents,” the organization’s legal complaint filed in the Northern District of New York read.
“Directed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, this campaign involves selective prosecution, backroom exhortations, and public threats with a singular goal – to deprive the NRA and its constituents of their First Amendment rights to speak freely about gun-related issues and defend the Second Amendment.”
Cuomo’s office has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, his office announced. The New York Governor challenged the notion that his actions infringe upon the NRA’s First Amendment rights.
“New York will not be intimidated by the NRA’s frivolous lawsuit to advance its dangerous gun-peddling agenda,” Cuomo said in a statement.
“Donald Trump and Washington, DC may be bought and paid for by the NRA, but in New York we are listening to the voices of people across the nation calling for action to keep our communities safe. While the NRA tries to play the victim, New York stands with the real victims — the thousands of people whose lives are cut short by gun violence every year.”
But the NRA has pointed to Cuomo’s past rhetoric and actions as evidence of bias against the gun-rights group. For Cuomo, “weakening the political advocacy of the NRA is a career strategy,” the NRA says.
The gun-rights-advocacy group has suffered from a spate of negative publicity in recent months in the wake of numerous school shootings, most notably the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, FL, earlier this year.
The NRA is a famously private organization. As of May 2018 it claims to have 6 million members.
Photo by Joe Loong via Flickr