The National Rifle Association (NRA) is hitting back against Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James’ years-long legal battle and self-described campaign to “take on the NRA” over alleged corruption.
The NRA filed an appeal Monday with the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division stemming from an ongoing 2020 suit the attorney general filed against the Second Amendment group, which originally sought to dissolve the organization. The NRA is arguing that James weaponized the powers of her office “to silence” the Second Amendment group.
“The NRA believes the motivation for her ensuing campaign against the Association is clear: she desired to silence the organization and its Second Amendment advocacy,” NRA counsel William Brewer III told Fox News Digital.
There is “an extraordinary public record” that James vowed to target the association before she won election as prosecutor.
“The evidence reveals there is a direct link between the NYAG’s animus toward the NRA, her highly-publicized campaign, and the resulting harm it has caused,” Brewer said.
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James was elected to office in November 2018 and publicly slammed the NRA in the lead-up to her becoming New York’s chief law officer. While on the campaign trail, James called the group “an organ of deadly propaganda” and vowed to investigate whether the NRA could keep its charity status.
“The NRA is an organ of deadly propaganda masquerading as a charity for public good,” James wrote in a campaign press release back in July 2018. “Its agenda is set by gun-makers who think arming teachers is a better idea than making it harder for kids to get military grade guns.”
Weeks before her election, she described the NRA as “a terrorist organization” in comments to Ebony magazine, and “a criminal enterprise” in remarks to local New York media.
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“We need to again take on the NRA, which holds itself out as a charitable organization. But, in fact, they are not,” James told Our Time Press in September 2018.
James came through on her campaign pledge in August 2020 with a dissolution lawsuit aiming to break up the NRA over alleged corruption. A New York Supreme Court justice ultimately blocked James’ effort to dissolve the organization in a 2022 decision, saying the suit did not meet the requirements of ordering a “corporate death penalty” on the group.
The judge allowed the suit against the NRA’s top officials, including CEO Wayne LaPierre, to proceed. James accused officials at the NRA of “years of illegal self-dealing” that provided a “lavish lifestyle.”
“While we’re heartened that the judge rejected the NRA’s attempts to thwart most of the claims in our case against the NRA, we are disappointed that the judge ruled against the dissolution portion of the case,” James said in a statement back in March of last year. “We are considering our legal options with respect to this ruling. We remain committed to enforcing New York law regardless of how powerful any individual or organization may be.”
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The NRA filed counterclaims against the suit, alleging that James worked to shut down the group over “a desire to silence its pro-Second Amendment advocacy,” the NRA said in a press release. The gun rights advocacy group accused the state AG of targeting them for political reasons, describing the matter as a vendetta and citing James’ comments ahead of her election.
The New York Supreme Court dismissed the First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause counterclaims without allowing discovery in June of last year.
“Today, the court reaffirmed the legitimacy and viability of my office’s lawsuit against the NRA for its years of fraud, abuse, and greed,” James said in a statement at the time.
Now, the NRA is hitting back again with an appeal filed Monday with the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division.
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The NRA is arguing that the “lower court’s opinion practically draws a roadmap for how officials can abuse state power to destroy the ability for non-profits to advocate for positions disfavored by the government. An official can run for office with the stated aim of taking adverse action to silence a disfavored speaker.”
The appeal added Tuesday that “under the lower court’s decision, so long as the targeted entity has committed any technical infraction whatsoever, it would have no redress for the blatant violation of its First Amendment rights. This would mark a decisive and dangerous break with both federal and New York law.”
James’ office did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the appeal and ongoing legal battle.
“The NRA believes its First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause counterclaims were improperly dismissed, and it is confident in its appeal,” Brewer said. “It is chilling to consider a world in which public officials can weaponize the powers of their office to silence those with whom they disagree.”
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