Over the past 40 years, the National Rifle Association has become well-known for strong-arming members of Congress against voting for gun control measures, mostly by exaggerating its influence.
The NRA is now taking the opposite tact, playing the victim in its fight against New York state officials seeking to make sure the gun lobby follows state laws.
The group claims in a lawsuit that New York’s “blacklisting” efforts have the organization stumbling toward financial ruin. The NRA contends that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state officials have already caused it to lose insurance coverage and could “imminently” deprive it of basic banking and other financial services “essential to the NRA’s corporate existence and its advocacy mission.”
In good times and bad, the NRA’s comments must be taken with an enormous grain of salt. While New York’s investigation into illegal activities by the NRA could prove harmful to the group, it almost certainly does not pose a threat to its existence.
Enforcement efforts against the lobby’s alleged illegal insurance activities could jeopardize the lobbying group’s NRATV and media operations. But there’s little chance the group as a whole would be going belly up anytime soon.
“While the non-profit’s multi-million dollar media entities might actually be in real jeopardy in the coming months, the NRA’s foundation remains mostly intact,” Chris Riotta of The Independent reported Friday.
In fact, the NRA continues to maintain steady donations from its members. The organization saw a big increase in donations following the Parkland school shooting in February, increasing by nearly 500 percent from the week prior to the tragedy, according to the newspaper.
This is not to say the NRA isn’t going through a period of financial instability. Due to the successful boycott campaigns organized by the students from the Parkland school in Florida and the regulatory efforts in New York, the NRA is feeling the heat.
Anti-gun activists, including students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, the site of the horrific shooting in February, are still applying pressure on the NRA. On Saturday, they’re holding a demonstration outside the NRA’s headquarters in Fairfax County, Virginia.
The activists have made several demands for the event — dubbed the National March on NRA — including calling on the IRS to revoke the NRA’s tax-exempt status.
Meanwhile, in early May, the New York State Department of Financial Services fined insurance broker Lockton Cos. $7 million and Chubb Ltd. $1.3 million over their involvement with the NRA-branded Carry Guard insurance program. The New York agency said the program unlawfully provided liability insurance to gun owners for “intentional” acts of wrongdoing.
In late July, the NRA filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, claiming New York state regulators were unfairly targeting the organization. As a result of the actions of New York financial regulators, the NRA complained it has encountered “serious difficulties obtaining corporate insurance coverage to replace” its insurance from a prior carrier.
The NRA said its inability to obtain insurance in connection with media liability raises risks that are especially acute. If insurers remain afraid to transact with the NRA, there is a substantial risk that NRATV will be forced to cease operating, the group claimed.
On Friday, Cuomo said in a statement that he will not be be intimidated by the NRA’s lawsuit, filed on July 20 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. The governor described it as a “frivolous lawsuit” to advance the NRA’s “dangerous gun-peddling agenda.”
“If I could have put the NRA out of business, I would have done it 20 years ago,” Cuomo said.
If I could have put the @NRA out of business, I would have done it 20 years ago.
I'll see you in court.https://t.co/XGKtuqvegA
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 3, 2018
It may be true that the NRA is suffering from financial instability. But whether any of that is directly caused by Cuomo’s actions remains unknown, Riotta of The Independent wrote.
“But one thing is for sure: the gun lobbying group is not going to suddenly disappear in the next several months or foreseeable future. For all intents and purpose, the NRA will continue finding ways to push its agenda for years to come, though perhaps not necessarily in the forms it is capable of today,” he reported.