NRA says it faces financial crisis, claims it might be ‘unable to exist’ in future: lawsuit

  • WASHINGTON—The National Rifle Association 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 organization said it may soon have to stop producing its magazines and its video streaming service, NRAtv, because of actions by the state of New York, which the NRA accused of running a "blacklisting campaign."

    The campaign appears to be part of a national campaign calling for companies to cut ties with the group in the aftermath of several high profile shootings, most notably with the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

    The gun lobbying group claims in its lawsuit, which targets Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Department of Financial Services and Maria Vullo, which heads the department, that the state has caused "irrecoverable loss and irreparable harm" to the organization. But, of course, the organization is making these claims in a lawsuit, which it hopes to win.

    The Rolling Stone first obtained the lawsuit and published the 45-page complaint online 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 wouldn't 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 claims to be about 5 million, though actual figures have never been released.

    The organization in its yearly tax filings shows it rakes in an average total of about $128 million. The Washington Post notes that number has varied over the years from a $72 million in 2006 to $228 million the following year.

    The newspaper notes the number of members appear to spike after a mass shooting. If true, one would think the back-to-back shootings in Florida, Texas, Nevada and Tennessee would have helped bolster the organization's finances.

    The organization is one of the largest lobbying groups. During the 2016 election cycle, the group spent $61 million to back current members of Congress, most of which benefitted Republicans.

    President Donald Trump received an additional $31 million in advertising during his campaign from the gun-rights group.

    But, Rolling Stone reported all that spending might have spelled some trouble for the group as the NRA overspent by $46 million in 2016.

    Students, who turned into gun-control advocates after the Parkland, Fla. shooting in February, applauded the news. The NRA has been their biggest target in the #NeverAgain movement, which reached a climax with the massive March for Our Lives rally in Washington.

    “The NRA admitted in a recent court filing that it’s hurting financially thanks to activism by the teenage survivors of the Parkland school massacre” — David Hogg (@davidhogg111) August 2, 2018

    David Hogg, one of the leaders of the student-led movement, said the news is evidence "the young people are winning."

    Others offered the NRA "thoughts and prayers," a common offering by politicians that's been criticized after mass shootings. Some said they didn't believe the NRA's claims and think the group is merely attempting to bolster its membership count and increase donations.

    Comedian Chelsea Handler posted on Twitter: "Thoughts and prayers to the NRA who is saying they’re in a deep financial crisis and may be unable to exist."

    She added: "Maybe they could ask some of the Republicans they donated millions to for a loan."

    Thoughts and prayers to the NRA who is saying they’re in a deep financial crisis and may be unable to exist. Maybe they could ask some of the Republicans they donated millions to for a loan: Richard Burr - $7M Roy Blunt - $4M Cory Gardner - $3M Marco Rubio - $3M — Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) August 3, 2018

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