The National Rifle Association (NRA) has said it’s suffering from substantial financial issues that could cause the organisation to "be unable to exist".
In a recent court filing, the powerful organisation that lobbies on behalf of gun makers, owners and campaigns against almost all gun regulations, said it had lost its media insurance coverage due to an aggressive campaign brought on by New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. The campaign encouraged companies to cut ties with the gun lobbying group. A lack of liability insurance threatens to shut down the group’s multi-million dollar media entities, including NRATV, its own streaming channel.
"The NRA's 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 wrote in its complaint, filed in New York’s northern district court 20 July. ”Defendants’ concerted efforts to stifle the NRA’s freedom of speech and to retaliate against the NRA based on its viewpoints are causing other insurance, banking, and financial institutions doing business with the NRA."
The complaint goes on to allege that other companies are being forced "to rethink their mutually beneficial business relationships with the NRA for fear of monetary sanctions or expensive public investigations."
The lawsuit arrives after the NRA was forced to pay a $7m fine for selling an illegally branded NRA insurance policy. That policy refunded legal costs for NRA members who fired legal guns. New York state determined the insurance was illegal, writing the group has "unlawfully provided liability insurance to gun owners for certain acts of intentional wrongdoing".
Financial regulators in New York then cracked down on the organisation, according to the NRA’s complaint, causing other financial providers to block the group’s access to necessary services.
This isn’t the first time the group has reportedly suffered from financial concerns. A ProPublica investigation found that the NRA had overspent by $46m in 2016 — a presidential campaign year in which it had spent at least $30m to help elect Donald Trump.
The NRA has demanded the court provide an immediate injunction barring New York officials from "interfering with, terminating, or diminishing any of the NRA’s contracts and/or business relationships with any organisations."
The governor's office, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment, has previously described the NRA’s court filings as “a futile and desperate attempt to advance its dangerous agenda to sell more guns.”
"In New York, we won't be intimidated by frivolous court actions from a group of lobbyists bent on chipping away at common sense gun safety laws that many responsible gun owners actually support," Mr Cuomo wrote in a statement.
"While the NRA ignores students across the nation who are saying enough is enough, New York is leading the way with the toughest and smartest gun safety laws in the country. I am proud of my 'F' rating from the NRA, and I will continue to do everything I can to keep New Yorkers safe."
The court filings were first reported by the New York Law Journal.