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NY judge rejects NRA’s effort to block lawsuit that could shut it down

Wayne LaPierre of the NRA speaking at CPAC FL in Orlando, Florida. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
January 22, 2021

A New York judge decided Thursday the lawsuit that could shut down the National Rifle Association will move forward despite the organization’s bid to have it dismissed, paused or transferred to another court, NPR reported.

Justice Joel Cohen of Manhattan Supreme Court made the ruling to block less than a week after the NRA announced it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as part of a strategic move to Texas.

While bankruptcy usually freezes any existing lawsuits, New York Attorney General Letitia James urged the courts for an exemption. James had filed a lawsuit against the NRA in August 2020 seeking to dissolve the organization after an 18-month investigation found it was “fraught with fraud and abuse.”

“It would be inappropriate to find that the attorney general couldn’t pursue her claims in state court just because one of the defendants wants to proceed in federal court,” Judge Cohen said during a virtual hearing Thursday, according to Reuters.

James alleged that NRA’s executives used millions of dollars of group funds for luxury vacations, private jets and expensive meals.  She vowed to prevent the group from using this “or any other tactic to evade accountability and my office’s oversight.”

“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” James said in a statement. “The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why, today, we seek to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law.”

The NRA called the lawsuit a “baseless premediated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend.”

The organization revealed the decision last week to leave New York was primarily due to a “corrupt political and regulatory environment,” noting that they planned to reincorporate in Texas.

“Under this plan, the Association wisely seeks protection from New York officials who it believes have illegally weaponized their powers against the NRA and its members,” said William A. Brewer III, counsel to the NRA. “The NRA will continue the fight to protect the interests of its members in New York – and all forums where the NRA is unlawfully singled out for its Second Amendment advocacy.”

“By exiting New York, where the NRA has been incorporated for approximately 150 years, the NRA abandons a state where elected officials have weaponized the legal and regulatory powers they wield to penalize the Association and its members for purely political purposes,” the NRA said.