The National Rifle Association, the country’s largest and most powerful pro-gun group, warned in a recent court filing that it is in grave financial trouble. Its woes apparently stem from a push by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urging insurance and financial services companies to cut ties with the NRA. The group claimed that if this trend continues, it could soon “be unable to exist.”
In the July 20 court filing, which was first reported this week by the New York Law Journal, the NRA’s lawyers detailed the financial losses they say the group has suffered as a direct result of the Cuomo campaign. Most critically, the NRA said it’s been unable to renew its media liability insurance, which it called a “practical necessity” for any “controversial” speaker. Without that insurance, the NRA said it could be forced to shut down NRATV—its digital media network known for things such as its series of videos with fanatical spokeswoman Dana Loesch—or various print publications and magazines.
The NRA also argued in the complaint that Cuomo, along with New York financial regulators, has caused “tens of millions of dollars in damages” through a “blacklisting campaign” which threatens their day-to-day operations. Without general liability coverage, the group warned it will be unable to “convene off-site meetings and events” or run “educational programs.” Overall, it said, the financial squeeze could leave it “unable to exist as a not-for-profit or pursue its advocacy mission.”
The filing is the latest escalation in the organization’s ongoing legal battle with the state. In its original lawsuit filed in May, the NRA accused New York of “discrimination against the NRA and the millions of law-abiding gun owners it represents,” and of violating its First Amendment rights for taking action against a new NRA-branded insurance program for gun owners. As Rolling Stone reported on Friday:
The lawsuit stems from actions taken by New York financial regulators to halt the sale of an illegal, NRA-branded insurance policy. The NRA actively marketed “Carry Guard,” a policy to reimburse members for legal costs incurred after firing a legal gun. In May, the state of New York found that Carry Guard “unlawfully provided liability insurance to gun owners for certain acts of intentional wrongdoing.” The NRA’s insurance partners agreed to stop selling the policies and pay a $7 million fine.
And, as the gun policy news site The Trace reported on Wednesday, the Carry Guard program was positioned as a cornerstone of the NRA’s plan to keep the money rolling in under President Trump:
One former employee of Ackerman McQueen, an advertising and public relations agency known to shape the NRA’s strategy and certain programs, said the group was counting on Carry Guard to provide revenue after Donald Trump’s 2016 election win. With Trump in the White House and Republicans leading Congress, the NRA could not plausibly motivate its membership to reach for their wallets by raising the specter of federal gun control. Without that fear factor driving donations, the group has needed alternate sources of cash.
With that in mind, it’s in the NRA’s best interest to paint its financial outlook as dire in court—especially if it can claim that it’s a result of aggression by anti-gun Democrats. Still, it also provides a blueprint for how to snuff out the NRA once and for all: Money makes the thing go. If you make it untenable or deeply unpopular to associate with the NRA, the money spigot will slowly but surely be turned off. I have reached out to the NRA for comment