NEW YORK – The New York Attorney General’s lawsuit against the National Rifle Association is not a mere “witch hunt,” a New York judge ruled Friday, dismissing claims by the gun rights advocacy group that the case was a political vendetta.
Manhattan Judge Joel M. Cohen’s decision means the nearly two-year legal battle can proceed.
The ruling comes after mass shootings in New York and Texas last month that reignited debate over US gun policy and drew attention back to the NRA.
The New York case began when James, a Democrat, filed a motion a lawsuit accusing some senior NRA executives of financial shortcomings and tried to break up the group. The Attorney General’s job includes oversight of non-profit organizations formed in New York, where the NRA was founded in 1871.
In March Cohen turned down James’ offer to shut down the NRA. But the judge let the case go ahead, with the possibility of fines or other remedies if the attorney general prevails.
The NRA accused James in a court hearing last year of “waging a flagrant and malicious campaign of retaliation” over his views. The group tried to stop the lawsuit.
Cohen rejected these arguments.
“The narrative that the attorney general’s investigation into these undeniably serious matters was nothing more than a politically motivated — and unconstitutional — witch hunt is simply not supported by the records,” he wrote, noting that the investigation was prompted by reports of wrongdoing was and “further evidence uncovered.”
James welcomed the decision, saying it upheld the “legitimacy and viability” of the lawsuit.
“Our fight for transparency and accountability will continue,” she said in a statement.
NRA Attorney William A. Brewer III said the group was disappointed but will continue to fight the case and still believe it was unfairly targeted.
“The NRA believes the prosecution of the NYAG was fueled by their opposition to the association and their First Amendment activities in support of the Second Amendment,” he said in a statement, using an abbreviation for the Attorney General’s title.
After the recent shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, Congress is under renewed pressure to act after years of partisan deadlocks over gun legislation.
The house passed legislation that would raise the age limit for purchasing semi-automatic weapons and enacted federal “red flag” laws that allow guns to be taken from people who are at extreme risk of harming themselves or others. Such initiatives have traditionally failed in the Senate.
Democratic and Republican senators have discussed a framework to address the issue, but no agreement has been announced.
The NRA — a longtime political force that has lost influence through financial scandals in recent years — has long insisted that mass shootings are not a reason to limit access to guns, arguing that the solution is, instead, law-abiding people Firearms for defense would have themselves and others.
The message was repeated at the group convention last month in HoustonDays after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde.
Rallies demanding significant changes to gun laws are planned this weekend in Washington and across the country and are expected to draw tens of thousands of people.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is also caught up in the national tug-of-war over the status of guns in America. The judges are expects to soon issue their most consequential gun verdict in more than a decadepotentially making it easier to be armed on the streets of New York and other major cities.
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https://www.local10.com/news/national/2022/06/10/new-yorks-lawsuit-against-nra-can-move-forward-judge-rules/ New York’s lawsuit against the NRA can go ahead, judges rules