New York’s attorney general is trying to wipe out the National Rifle Association. She’s accusing the NRA of seriously mismanaging funds and is suing to dissolve the gun-rights group.
"Just a few minutes ago, my office filed a lawsuit against the National Rifle Association to dissolve the organization in its entirety,” Attorney General Letitia James announced at a Thursday news conference.
She charged, “For years, the NRA diverted millions and millions of dollars away from its charitable mission for personal use by senior leadership to award contracts to the financial gain of close associates and family."
“It’s clear that the NRA has been failing to carry out its stated mission for many, many years. And instead has operated as a breeding ground for greed, abuse, and brazen illegality,” James claimed.
Labeled the NRA ‘a terrorist organization’
This isn’t the first time James has personally gone after the gun-rights group.
Journalist Stephen Gutowski at the Washington Free Beacon told CBN News, "She essentially questioned the tax status of the NRA; said they claimed to be a charity group, but they're actually 'a terrorist group.' So obviously there's a lot of history involved there."
Gutowski was talking about an interview James gave Ebony magazine in October 2018, where she stated, “The NRA holds (itself) out as a charitable organization, but in fact, really (is) a terrorist organization.”
John Lott Jr., the author of Gun Control Myths and head of the Crime Prevention Research Center, said of James, “When she ran for office in 2018, one of her campaign promises – a major campaign promise – was to go after the non-profit status for the NRA.”
He added, "It's just a real abuse of power for an attorney general to single out somebody, to go after a non-profit, because she disagrees with them politically."
Cut Their Funds, Cut Their Influence, Right Before the Election
Gutowski pointed out the timing could be designed to sabotage the NRA’s plan to spend tens of millions of dollars in the 2020 election.
He explained, "During the press conference, the AG was asked if she would try to freeze their assets, and she said 'yes.' So if she is able to do that, then clearly they won't be able to spend those millions of dollars."
Lott stated, “The State of New York is trying to bleed the NRA dry financially by imposing large legal costs on them.”
He quoted one source who said fighting legal battles like this one has cost the NRA roughly $100 million in the last several years.
CBN CEO Gordon Robertson says it's clear, this latest move by the NY attorney general is all about the upcoming election. "This is politics, and it's hardcore politics. It's weaponizing law enforcement in order to take out a political opponent. That is what is going on," Robertson explained on The 700 Club on Friday.
The NRA filed a countersuit Thursday against AG James, pointing out how as a candidate for the attorney general position, she’d promised to “take down the NRA.”
On the same day, Washington DC’s Attorney General Karl Racine also sued the NRA, accusing it of misusing funds.
These anti-NRA accusations aren’t just coming from liberal-leaning politicians and officials. Former NRA president Oliver North and a longtime major contractor with the NRA, Ackerman McQueen, have leveled similar charges at the gun-rights group.
Second Amendment Rights on the Line
All of this battling comes at such a crucial time for the gun rights issue. Lott believes the political parties are so split on gun control that gun owners will realize their Second Amendment rights may seriously be on the line.
Lott told CBN News, "I think this election will determine the long-run future for whether or not people are able to privately own guns to protect themselves and their families."
Gun sales have soared to record levels in recent months, with gun-buying members of the public panicked over the pandemic, riots, looting, and efforts to defund the police.
Lott pointed out, “We’ve had police being ordered to stand down in cities. In many jails and prisons across the country, from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Chicago, and other places, you’ve had up to 50 percent of the inmates being released. You’ve had police departments being cut back.”
A Thousand New Members a Day
A top NRA official told Gutowski it’s causing a thousand people a day to join the NRA over the last two months. And this is with the pandemic preventing most of the in-person membership drives the NRA normally does.
“This happened organically,” Gutowski explained. “People are just joining up to the NRA at levels much higher than they normally would.”
Lott believes the atmosphere of fear that’s driving people to buy record amounts of guns is also making gun rights a major campaign issue in 2020.
He told CBN News, “Here’s the ultimate irony: the same politicians who are fighting to defund the police and cut them back are the same politicians that don’t want individuals to be able to go and defend themselves.”
That may put them at odds with the five million Americans who care enough about firearms to pay dues to the NRA. And that number still makes it a powerful player in the politics of gun control.