Aug. 5 (UPI) — The National Rifle Association said it could face a financial crisis that would force it to close its headquarters and shut down various communications operations in a lawsuit against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Department of Financial Services.
The lawsuit filed in federal court alleges Cuomo and state regulators seek to “deprive the NRA and its constituents of their First Amendment rights to speak freely about gun-related issues and defend the Second Amendment” by illegally coercing banks, insurers and other financial companies to halt business relations with the group.
“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 states. “Defendants seek to silence one of America’s oldest constitutional rights advocates. If their abuses are not enjoined, they will soon, substantially, succeed.”
The NRA lost insurance coverage from its provider in February after Lockton Affinity stopped providing brokerage services for NRA-endorsed insurance programs. The gun advocacy organization said it sought corporate coverage from other insurers, but “nearly every carrier has indicated that it fears transacting with the NRA” due to actions by New York authorities.
“The NRA has encountered serious difficulties obtaining corporate insurance coverage,” the gun advocacy organization said in an email to NPR. “If insurers remain afraid to transact with the NRA, there is a substantial risk that NRA TV will be forced to cease operating.”
The lawsuit seeks an immediate injunction to prevent state officials from “interfering with, terminating, or diminishing any of the NRA’s contracts and/or business relationships with any organizations.”
In May, when the lawsuit was initially filed, Cuomo issued a statement describing it as “a futile and desperate attempt” by the NRA to” advance its dangerous agenda to sell more guns.”
“In New York, we won’t be intmidated by frivolous court actions from a group of lobbyists bent on chipping away at common sense gun safety laws that many responsible gun owners actually support. We have an obligation to protect New Yorkers, and this sham suit will do nothing to stop that,” he said.
He also responded to the NRA’s more recent allegations that the state was trying to put them out of business.
“If I could have put the NRA out of business, I would have done it 20 years ago,” he said.
In April, Cuomo said he directed state regulators to “urge insurance companies, New York state-chartered banks, and other financial services companies licensed in New York to review any relationships they may have with the National Rifle Association,” on the grounds such relationships could “harm their corporate reputations and jeopardize public safety.”
On Friday, Cuomo announced the state had filed a motion to dismiss the case and a hearing is scheduled for Sept. 10.
David Hogg, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., responded to the NRA’s claim of an impending financial crisis, stating “clearly the young people are winning.”
Hogg and other activists from March for Our Lives rallied Saturday outside the National Rifle Association’s headquarters in Northern Virginia on Saturday to remember victims of gun violence and continue a call to action for stricter gun regulations.