Amid major challenges to gun rights, the National Rifle Association says that a strategic retreat from New York state will allow it to preserve the Second Amendment rights of its members — and all Americans.
On Friday, the NRA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, framing the action as a tactic to get out from under a lawsuit filed against the organization in August by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“The NRA’s claimed financial status has finally met its moral status: bankrupt,” James said in a statement on Friday. “We will not allow the NRA to use this or any other tactic to evade accountability and my office’s oversight.”
NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre explained the decision to file for bankruptcy in a letter posted on the NRA’s website.
LaPierre said the move was part of “a restructuring plan that positions us for the long-term and ensures our continued success as the nation’s leading advocate for constitutional freedom — free from the toxic political environment of New York.”
“The plan can be summed up quite simply: We are DUMPING New York, and we are pursuing plans to reincorporate the NRA in Texas,” he wrote.
The letter heaped scorn on New York leaders.
“We are leaving the state of an attorney general who, just a few months ago, vowed to put us out of business through an abuse of legal and regulatory power. In fact, the gross overreach of the New York Attorney General and New York Governor has been resoundingly criticized by powerful national groups like the ACLU and a host of prominent legal scholars,” LaPierre wrote.
“Under this plan, we seek protection from New York officials who illegally abused and weaponized the powers they wield against the NRA and its members. You can be assured the Association will continue the fight to protect your interests in New York — and all forums where the NRA is unlawfully singled out for its Second Amendment advocacy.”
Texas, he said, is a very different ballgame.
“Texas values the contributions of the NRA, celebrates our law-abiding members, and joins us as a partner in upholding constitutional freedom,” he wrote.
But LaPierre said making the leap will take some work.
“To facilitate the strategic plan and restructuring, the NRA and one of its subsidiaries have filed voluntary Chapter 11 petitions in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division,” he wrote.
LaPierre sought to put a positive spin on the filing by explaining that “Chapter 11 proceedings are often utilized by businesses, nonprofits and organizations of all kinds to streamline legal and financial affairs.”
He noted that a Chapter 11 reorganization under bankruptcy laws is very different from the common usage of the term “bankruptcy.”
“You know that our opponents will try to seize upon this news and distort the truth. Don’t believe what you read from our enemies. The NRA is not ‘bankrupt’ or ‘going out of business.’ The NRA is not insolvent. We are as financially strong as we have been in years,” he wrote.
In the letter, he said member benefits and NRA operations will not be changed.
At a time when Democrats control the House, Senate and White House, LaPierre said the NRA will be ready to respond to whatever President-elect Joe Biden and other anti-gun politicians try to do.
.@GabbyGiffords — Your perseverance and immeasurable courage continue to inspire me and millions of others. I pledge to continue to work with you — and with survivors, families, and advocates across the country — to defeat the NRA and end our epidemic of gun violence. https://t.co/zN5J5YjXUM
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 8, 2021
“Under the plan, the NRA will continue what we’ve always done — confronting anti-gun, anti-self-defense and anti-hunting activities and promoting constitutional advocacy that helps law-abiding Americans,” he wrote.
“This plan actually improves our business. It protects us from costly, distracting and unprincipled attacks from anti-2A politicians aimed at attacking the NRA because we are a potent political force. We know that the gun ban lobby will never stop — fueled by a hatred of your freedoms and by wealthy benefactors. Our plan is the best way to confront them,” he wrote.
Reuters reported the filing “will likely put the New York lawsuit on hold, and a reincorporation in Texas could strip James of her power to dissolve the group.”
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