Misleading reports exist about several legal matters involving the NRA. This website presents key documents and facts — to set the record straight and allow the public to judge for itself.
NRA Responds to Dismissal of
Counterclaims Against NYAG
June 10, 2022 – A New York court today dismissed the NRA’s counterclaims against New York Attorney General (NYAG) Letitia James. The NYAG filed a dissolution lawsuit against the NRA in August 2020.
In the opinion, the Hon. Joel M. Cohen recognized that the scope of the NRA’s counterclaims was narrowed as a result of his March 2022 dismissal of the NYAG’s dissolution claims. The NRA previously said that the dismissal vindicates the NRA’s position: The NYAG’s effort to shut down the Association ran afoul of common sense, New York law, and the First Amendment.
Commenting on today’s decision dismissing the counterclaims against the NYAG, NRA counsel William A. Brewer III said, “Naturally, we are disappointed in the opinion. However, we understand the court’s decision that certain counterclaims were rendered moot by the NRA’s recent victory against the NYAG – when the Court struck down her efforts to dissolve the Association. And, as the record reflects, the NRA is committed to good governance and is transparent about its efforts in that regard.”
Brewer continued, “Importantly, this decision does not impact the NRA’s defense of the NYAG’s lawsuit. The NRA believes the NYAG’s pursuit was fueled by her opposition to the Association and its First Amendment activities in support of the Second Amendment. There is an extraordinary public record that the NYAG, as a candidate, vowed to target the Association – chilling evidence of her motivations toward a political adversary. In fact, the NRA believes there is a direct link between the NYAG’s animus toward the NRA and the adverse action taken in the form of her investigation. The NRA will continue fighting for its members and the freedoms in which they believe.”
As a candidate for the NYAG office, James stated:
She would "[u]se the powers of the office to investigate the legitimacy of the NRA as a charitable institution. The NRA is an organ of deadly propaganda masquerading as a charity for public good." July 12, 2018, Tish James for Attorney General Press Release
"The NRA holds [itself] out as a charitable organization, but in fact, [it] really [is] a terrorist organization." October 31, 2018, Ebony
“…we need to again take on the NRA, which holds itself out as a charitable organization. But, in fact, they are not. They are nothing more than a criminal enterprise. We are waiting to take on all of the banks that finance them, their investors." September 6, 2018, Our Time Press
She also tweeted on August 26, 2018, “We need an Attorney General who will focus on: [and names] The @NRA."
With respect to the NRA’s commitment to good governance, a May 2021 decision by a federal judge recognized the NRA.
According to the NRA, during a 12-day hearing in Dallas federal court that occurred over approximately four weeks, the NRA established that it had adopted new policies and accounting controls, displaced many “insiders” who had allegedly abused the Association, and accepted reparations for costs voluntarily determined to be excess benefits. The hearing proceedings focused on the NRA’s compliance efforts, and the organization’s renewed commitment to good governance.
In an opinion, dated May 11, 2021, The Honorable Harlin D. Hale wrote, “In short, the testimony…suggests that the NRA now understands the importance of compliance…the NRA can . . . continue to fulfill its mission, continue to improve its governance and internal controls, contest dissolution in the NYAG Enforcement Action, and pursue the legal steps necessary to leave New York.”
NRA Fights Back Against NYAG's Move to
Appoint an "Independent" Monitor
June 6, 2022 – The NRA today filed a motion to dismiss the New York Attorney General's (NYAG) claim that an "independent" compliance monitor should be appointed to oversee the administration of the NRA. In its filing, the NRA states that the unprecedented request would "burden the First Amendment rights of the NRA and its millions of members."
On March 2, 2022, a New York court struck down attempts by NYAG James to dissolve the NRA – delivering a big win for the NRA. As Business Insider reports, since that loss, the NYAG "has amended her complaint but added no new factual allegations," the NRA filing states.
"Rather, she asserts a new cause of action which seeks the intrusive, unnecessary and unprecedented appointment of an 'independent' compliance monitor to oversee the administration of the NRA, answerable to the NYAG's own office as well as the Court," the filing continues.
"There is no colorable practical need, and no legal basis, for the NYAG to contrive a de facto takeover of the NRA to replace her defunct dissolution claims," it says.
"Rather, the parties should proceed with discovery and trial on the NYAG's previously existing claims, and the new one should be dismissed."
NRA Alleges NYAG's Office "Coordinated and Conspired" with Everytown for Gun Safety
April 12, 2022 – The NRA today filed its amended response to the remaining claims in the New York Attorney General's (NYAG) Verified Amended and Supplemental Complaint against the Association. In its response, the NRA alleges that the NYAG's office "coordinated and conspired with Everytown for Gun Safety, an entity which was founded to serve as a 'counterweight' to the NRA."
The NYAG filed a dissolution lawsuit against the NRA in August 2020. On March 2, 2022, a New York court struck down attempts by NYAG James to dissolve the NRA – delivering a big win for the NRA. The NRA is now defending against the surviving claims in the lawsuit.
The filing notes that, in February 2019, prior to launching her investigation into the NRA, senior representatives of NYAG Letitia James' office met with representatives of Everytown for Gun Safety about the NRA.
The complaint states, "A representative of OAG testified under oath that the purpose of the meeting between the representatives of James’s office and Everytown was for Everytown to advise the NYAG of a complaint about the NRA's 2017 IRS Form 990 filing."
However, the NRA states that "[be]cause Everytown was founded and exists solely to further Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun agenda, Everytown is not a credible source of information about the NRA."
Two months after the meeting, NYAG James authorized an investigation of the NRA. The filing states, "James commenced a sweeping, costly, invasive, and concertedly publicized investigation of the NRA concerning types of purported misconduct that have never incited the same hostility for similarly situated, comparator charities."
After the NRA sought records related to the meeting between the NYAG's office and Everytown, both entities moved for a protective order, claiming in part that discovery was stayed and that compliance with the request for documents would be unduly burdensome for Everytown, the filing states.
The NRA further notes that "a representative of the NYAG in sum and substance refused to deny at a deposition that if the NYAG succeeded on her now-dismissed claims to dissolve the NRA, she planned to distribute some or all of the NRA’s assets to Everytown."
NRA Files Answer to NYAG
Complaint and Counterclaims
March 23, 2022 – The NRA today filed its verified answer to the New York Attorney General’s (NYAG) amended and supplemental complaint and counterclaims. The filing responds to the dissolution lawsuit filed by NYAG Letitia James, originally filed on August 6, 2020, and asserts several counterclaims against the NYAG for Violation of the NRA’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and Selective Enforcement of N.Y. Not-for-Profit Corporation law, among other claims.
According to the filing, “As a candidate for the New York State Office of the Attorney General, James promised [in 2018] that, if elected, she would ‘take down the NRA’ by wielding the enforcement powers she hoped to possess if she were elected as NYAG.” The filing explains that, upon being elected, James commenced her investigation into the NRA and later filed a lawsuit that seeks to shut it down. Her actions have drawn criticism from many legal experts and constitutional scholars, including the ACLU.
The filing states, “James’s threatened, and actual, regulatory and civil reprisals are a blatant and malicious retaliation campaign against the NRA and its constituents based on her disagreement with the content of their speech. Such conduct violates clearly established statutory and constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”
NRA Prevails Over NYAG:
Court Rules Association Cannot be Dissolved
March 2, 2022 – The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) scored a major legal victory today, as a New York court struck down attempts by the New York Attorney General to dissolve the 150-year-old organization. Following a two-hour hearing on December 10, 2021, the Hon. Joel M. Cohen of the New York State Supreme Court issued an opinion today that vindicates the NRA’s position: the NYAG’s effort to shut down the Association ran afoul of common sense, New York law, and the First Amendment.
“This is a resounding win for the NRA, its 5 million members, and all who believe in this organization,” says NRA President Charles Cotton. “The message is loud and clear: the NRA is strong and secure in its mission to protect constitutional freedom.”
The NRA will defend against the surviving claims in the lawsuit – but today’s ruling declares that the NYAG cannot shut down the Association or seize its assets.
“We applaud the court’s recognition that dissolution is neither appropriate nor justified,” says William A. Brewer III, partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors and counsel to the NRA. “We look forward to continuing the defense of the NRA – and proving that it acts in the best interests of its members and the Second Amendment freedoms in which they believe.”
Emphasizing that the NRA is “a prominent advocacy organization that represents the interests of millions of members,” the court said the NYAG failed to meet the “rigorous” standard for state-sponsored dissolution of such a group – and her attempt raised free speech concerns.
In an opinion, dated March 2, 2022, Justice Cohen writes, “The Attorney General’s claims to dissolve the NRA are dismissed.” It adds, “The Complaint does not allege that any financial misconduct benefited the NRA, or that the NRA exists primarily to carry out such activity, or that the NRA is incapable of continuing its legitimate activities on behalf of its millions of members.”
The NRA has argued that it has demonstrated a commitment to good governance, and long believed that the NYAG’s case was part of a political vendetta. NYAG James famously vowed to “target the NRA” and “investigate the legitimacy of the NRA as a charitable organization” while on the campaign trail in July 2018 – before spending even one day in office and without any evidence of wrongdoing. She filed a lawsuit in August 2020 seeking to shut down the Association.
The NRA has successfully proven there was no legal precedent or factual basis for the NYAG’s scorched-earth, politicized approach.
The court observes, “The Attorney General cites no case in which she or her predecessors have sought – much less obtained – dissolution under analogous circumstances.” The opinion also states, “…dissolving the NRA could impinge, at least indirectly, on the free speech and assembly rights of its millions of members. While that alone would not preclude statutory dissolution if circumstances otherwise clearly warranted it, the Court believes it is a relevant factor that counsels against State-imposed dissolution, which should be the last option, not the first.”
In addition to the dissolution claims, the court also dismissed claims by the NYAG for unjust enrichment and violations of the Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act.
Against the backdrop of the NYAG’s lawsuit, the NRA is pursuing its own legal action against James. In a legal filing, dated February 23, 2021, the NRA responded to the August 2020 lawsuit filed by the NYAG. The filing alleges that her case is part of a crusade to silence a powerful political opponent – and its stated purpose to defend the Second Amendment.
According to the NRA’s filing, “James’s threatened, and actual, regulatory and civil reprisals are a blatant and malicious retaliation campaign against the NRA and its constituents based on her disagreement with the content of their speech. This wrongful conduct threatens to destroy the NRA and chill the speech of the NRA, its members, and other constituents, including like-minded groups and their members.”
Brewer adds, “Today’s developments underscore the simple truth that since taking office in 2019, the Attorney General has pushed a contrived narrative about the NRA in her attempt to support a dissolution claim that is improper. This is a victory for not only the NRA, but all who believe in the right to free speech and association.”
“I’ve always said that the dissolution case was part of a political vendetta to take down the NRA,” says NRA Past President Carolyn Meadows. “I want to thank NRA members for helping us confront this abuse of power. They deserve an enormous amount of credit.”
NRA First Vice President Willes K. Lee said, “As an NRA member, this decision gives me great pride. It reaffirms an important belief: the NRA continues to serve as the greatest voice in the fight to protect Second Amendment freedom.”
Law360 Reports on NRA Motion to Disqualify Dorsey & Whitney
February 23, 2022 – Law360 reports that the NRA filed a motion requesting that Dorsey & Whitney LLP, the law firm representing the NRA's former ad agency, Ackerman McQueen, be disqualified because of the firm's connection to a "side-switching" lawyer who previously worked for the NRA.
According to the report, "The NRA claimed in a motion Monday that a privilege log recently revealed that Dorsey & Whitney LLP worked briefly with Virginia lawyer Mark Dycio, who had advised the association on matters relevant to the case."
"The incurable conflicts arising from Dycio's misconduct, which also taint Dorsey, could have been dealt with at the outset of this litigation," the motion said. "But they were not — because defendants concealed evidence of Dycio's involvement from their initial disclosures and document productions."
Reporting notes that, beginning in 2013, Dycio worked with the NRA and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre on matters including executive pay and corporate governance. However, when the NRA sued Ackerman McQueen in 2019, Dycio "switched sides" and represented the ad agency.
"Although the NRA knew that Dycio was involved in preliminary stages of the litigation, the NRA claims that it did not know that he had been working directly with Dorsey & Whitney during that time," Law360 reports.
According to the report, "The NRA argued that the ordeal warrants not only a disqualification of the firm, but also a dismissal of all of Ackerman's counterclaims. If the judge rejects this request, the NRA asked that the court forbid the use of any confidential information Dorsey & Whitney obtained from Dycio."