Is NY’s lawsuit to dissolve the NRA politically motivated?


Fact Box

  • Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the National Rifle Association in 1871 after a lack of marksmanship shown by their troops. The primary goal of the association was to 'promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.”
  • Letitia James stated that NRA leaders diverted funds to pay for family trips to the Bahamas and private jets, which contributed to a $64 million reduction in the balance sheet in three years.
  • On Thursday, New York’s attorney general took action to dissolve the National Rifle Association following an 18-month investigation that found evidence the powerful gun rights group is 'fraught with fraud and abuse.'
  • The public is divided over whether the NRA exerts too much influence over whether related laws are passed or not. While 39% held the view that the NRA exerted too much influence, 35% said it was the right amount and 18% said it was too little.
  • The NRA spends nearly 10 times as much as the biggest gun control lobbying group in the country.

Stephanie (Yes)

The leftist movement against second amendment rights manifested in the recent lawsuit against the National Rifle Association on behalf of the state New York. After viewing the long-standing negative view of the NRA on behalf of democrats, it only takes a glance to see that this move was purely political. The NRA has been 'under fire' from the left and other anti-second amendment groups as it strives to fight for a fundamental Constitutional right. The fact that the NRA is being targeted is an obvious attack on the second amendment group, especially taking into account that the presidential election is right around the corner.

Disregarding NRA expenditures, the lawsuit claims the organization has misused funds. Yet, one must contemplate the amount of funding that is absolutely necessary for operations, payroll, and other marketing strategies. The NRA has been previously criticized for requesting additional donations on top of annual dues from its members, which could be called excessive. However, safeguarding American second amendment rights from the constant attack from the left, it appears necessary to obtain the highest level of funding possible and necessary.

Additionally, New York, as a highly democratic state, ought not to have an opinion on the NRA. Considering the state's very restrictive firearm laws already in place, one would think that anti-gun activists would be pleased to hear of a financial rift within the organization, as it could undeniably weaken it. Yet second amendment supporters who strongly back the NRA would likely still back it, politics aside, given the live-saving and freedom-providing rights for which the organization constantly fights.

Sara (No)

The NRA is being sued for violations of corporate laws occurring over a long period. These violations include misuse of funds, making false or misleading disclosures to the IRS and the New York Attorney General, and mismanagement. Senior leaders are accused of misusing millions of dollars from the organization's funds for personal use, which perpetuates the idea of tax fraud. The lawsuit claims that due to these activities, the NRA lost 63 million dollars in just three years. 

The NRA has its headquarters in Virginia, but it is registered and operates as a non-profit in New York state. This means it is subsidized by New York State taxpayers and must follow state rules for organizations receiving public subsidies. It is the duty of New York State officials, especially the Attorney General, to conduct oversight of non-profits and to prevent fraud and mismanagement. This is why the state conducted an investigation into the functioning of the NRA and launched the lawsuit based on the results. 

The 18-month investigation by New York State Attorney General Letitia James was initiated only after internal problems within the NRA came out into the open in 2019 following a leadership change. Allegations of financial mismanagement and rumors that the organization could not pay its bills made it clear that something was wrong and an investigation was necessary. Finally, even though the NRA wields a tremendous amount of political power, it is a basic tenet of democratic government that no individual and no organization is above the law. Allegations of financial misconduct must be investigated and prosecuted no matter who is involved.

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