NRA says it’s in ‘financial crisis’, accuses New York state of ‘blacklisting campaign’
Gun advocacy group is one of America’s biggest lobbyists, spending millions on politicians, but may have overspent in 2016 presidential election
The National Rifle Association (NRA) claims it’s facing deep financial problems and it might go broke in a lawsuit that blames its problems on the state of New York.
The gun rights organisation said it may soon have to stop producing its magazines and video streaming service, NRAtv, because of actions by the state of New York, which it accused of running a “blacklisting campaign”.
The campaign appears to be part of a national movement calling for companies to cut ties with the group in the aftermath of several high profile shootings, most notably the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
The gun lobbying group claims in its lawsuit, which targets Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Department of Financial Services and its head Maria Vullo, that the state has caused “irrecoverable loss and irreparable harm” to the organisation.
Rolling Stone first obtained the lawsuit and published the 45-page complaint online on Friday.
Over several months, the NRA has taken aim at the state of New York and its financial regulators after the state ruled the NRA’s insurance “Carry Guard” was illegal because it gave liability protection to gun owners for acts where there was “intentional wrongdoing”.
The NRA claims in its lawsuit that it has lost its insurance coverage, something it claims its carrier would not renew for “any price”. New York, the NRA says, has interfered with its business by coercing “insurance agencies, insurers, and banks into terminating business relationships with the NRA that were necessary to the survival of the NRA”.
“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.”
For years, the NRA has boasted about its large membership, which it says is about 5 million.
The organisation in its yearly tax filings shows it rakes in an average of about US$128 million. The Washington Post notes that number varies considerably from year to year, with only US$72 million in 2006 compared with US$228 million the following year.
The newspaper says the number of members appears to increase after a mass shooting.
The organisation is one of the largest lobbying groups. During the 2016 election, the group spent US$61 million to back members of Congress – mostly Republicans.
President Donald Trump received US$31 million in advertising during his campaign from the gun-rights group.
But, Rolling Stone the NRA overspent by US$46 million in 2016.
Parkland students, who turned into gun-control advocates after the school shooting in February, applauded the news. David Hogg, one of the leaders of the student movement, said the news is evidence “young people are winning”.
Some critics said they did not believe the NRA’s claims and think the group is merely attempting to bolster its membership count and increase donations.