Last August, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that the state would be suing National Rifle Association (NRA)—a gun-rights group and one of the most powerful political organizations in the United States—for defrauding its donors by repeatedly violating its nonprofit status. Citing the use of donor money for everything from vacations to wedding expenses, James said the state would call for the lobbying giant's dissolution.
Months later, in January, the NRA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. While some of its many critics took this as good news, the move was part of the organization's scramble to relocate to Texas, and prompted speculations that the group was filing for bankruptcy solely to escape the lawsuit. NRA president, Wayne LaPierre, said in a statement that the organization was "DUMPING" New York due to its "toxic political environment."
That effort took a devastating blow on Tuesday after a federal bankruptcy judge denied the organization's bankruptcy filing, emphasizing that it wasn't filed in good faith. With the Texas relocation thwarted, the suit against the NRA is now expected
In a 33 page ruling, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Harlin Hale of Dallas wrote in part:
"The Court believes it is not. For the reasons stated herein, the Court finds there is cause to dismiss this bankruptcy case as not having been filed in good faith both because it was filed to gain an unfair litigation advantage and because it was filed to avoid a state regulatory scheme."
The ruling went on to describe the exclusion of NRA executives from the decision to file for bankruptcy as "nothing less than shocking."
James responded to the ruling on Twitter assuring Americans that "no one is above the law."
LaPierre responded as well.
The United States continues to see an alarmingly disproportionate rate of gun violence compared to other countries, with a devastating 194 mass shootings in the past 18 weeks alone. While lawmakers and advocates have for years called for expanded gun regulation to curb the violence, the NRA has pushed back against even the most moderate restrictions on assault weapons.
With millions of dollars spent in campaign donations since 1990 and the growing influence of its political endorsements, the NRA is arguably the single biggest obstacle to the gun law reform that a majority of Americans support. The organization's dissolution would be one of the most significant wins for gun reform activists since the assault weapons ban of 1994.
In the face of the potentially devastating blow to the organization, its critics offered the same sentiment given by the NRA's supporters in the face of yet another mass shooting.
The development generated a wealth of reactions across social media, with virtually everyone noting this spelled bad tidings for the National Rifle Association.
The lawsuit in New York is just one of the many legal battles the NRA is facing now. Attorney General James expects a trial in 2022.