The National Rifle Association (NRA) said that the state of New York pressured financial institutions to cut financial ties with the gun rights group.
The NRA claimed in a lawsuit, first reported by Rolling Stone Magazine, that New York State is influencing financial and insurance institutions to pull any and all support from the NRA.
The organization is suing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), the state’s Department of Financial Services (DFS), and Maria Vullo, New York’s Superintendent of Financial Services. An amended version of the complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in New York last month.
Legal Representative for NRA William Brewer told The Hill that the gun group “is suffering setbacks with respect to the availability of insurance and banking services — as a result of a political and discriminatory campaign meant to coerce financial institutions to refrain from doing business with the NRA.”
Brewer called Cuomo’s actions “a blatant attack on the First Amendment rights of our organization,” adding that they “will further harm the NRA, chill the commercial activities of institutions regulated by DFS, and penalize law-abiding New York insurance consumers.”
On Friday, Cuomo’s office officially announced that the state will fill the motion to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that the governor and the state did not violate the groups’ First Amendment rights.
“New York we will not be intimidated by the NRA’s frivolous lawsuit to advance its dangerous gun-peddling agenda,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Donald Trump and Washington, DC may be bought and paid for by the NRA, but in New York we are listening to the voices of people across the nation calling for action to keep our communities safe. While the NRA tries to play the victim, New York stands with the real victims — the thousands of people whose lives are cut short by gun violence every year.”
Cuomo said previously that the NRA lawsuit is a “a futile and desperate attempt to advance its dangerous agenda to sell more guns.”
The gun rights organization also said that it has lost insurance coverage after its carrier said it “was unwilling to renew coverage at any price.”
The National Rifle Association is blaming New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for a financial crisis that it claims will force it to shut down some of its operations.https://t.co/0e16ob6V0V
— NPR (@NPR) August 4, 2018
The group claims that it could lose access to financial services because “multiple banks” are distancing themselves from the NRA “based on concerns that any involvement with the NRA — even providing the organization with basic depository services — would expose them to regulatory reprisals.”
As a result, the NRA may be losing control over the media corporation NRATV and other publications because of the lawsuit.
“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 complaint states.
New York officials are moving “to coerce insurance agencies, insurers, and banks into terminating business relationships with the NRA that were necessary to the survival of the NRA as a charitable organization,” the filing alleges.
Financial issues are not new for the NRA. The group overspent by nearly $46 million in 2016, according to Rolling Stone.
The group has faced intense scrutiny after a few mass shootings, including the Parkland, Fla., high school attack, sparked gun rights critics to blame the organization for allowing mentally unstable people to get a hold of dangerous weapons. Student activists from the school publicly associated the pro-gun group with lawmaker inaction on gun control.