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NRA Finds Constitutional Friends Amid Legal Woes

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If you read everything in the news of late and even talk to some gun rights supporters, you know NRA has been having a host of fits on a number of legal and organizational fronts and have quite a few forces aligned against them even from within the gun community. New York Attorney General Letitia James has tried to force the organization to be disbanded and failing in that effort has continued to move forward with a trial designed to topple the organization’s leadership based on charges of widespread corruption and malfeasance of NRA funds for personal gains. The group also has legal battles taking place on additional fronts.

The stories coming out of the debacle has caused a number of gun rights supporters to turn on the organization and has allegedly led to some members to quit the organization or discontinue their financial support as well. As everyone in the gun world now knows, longtime NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre is stepping down at the month’s end as a result of the organization’s legal woes.

Today, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) announced it has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the National Rifle Association’s lawsuit against Maria Vullo, the former superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services. The brief alleges Vullo “misused the power of her office to hamper the NRA’s advocacy efforts by discouraging financial institutions from doing business with the organization.” An amicus brief, short for amicus curiae brief, is generally filed by a group or organization that isn’t an actual party in a case, but has the expertise to offer additional, relevant information for a judge to consider in ruling on a case. Amicus curiae is Latin for “friend of the court.”

SAF was joined in submitting the brief by the John Locke Foundation and the Independence Institute. They group was represented by attorneys Joseph G.S. Greenlee of McCall, Idaho, David Kopel of Denver, Colorado, and Jonathan D. Guze of Raleigh, North Carolina. The case is known as NRA v. Vullo.

“In our brief,” says SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “we point to Vullo’s abuse of governmental authority to punish the NRA for its lawful advocacy efforts. SAF has experienced similar abuse by government agencies, which have tried to use their power to block our free speech, and it is unconscionable. This is why we felt it necessary to file this amicus, and we’re delighted to be joined by the John Locke Foundation and Independence Institute.”

“What happened in New York is very much like efforts by southern states to suppress the activities of the NAACP sixty years ago,” says SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut. “In both instances, state government officials used the power of their agencies to stifle and penalize rights secured under the First and Second Amendments. In this case, New York attempted to cause financial ruin to the NRA because Vullo, and then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, harbor considerable animus toward NRA and its members.”

“NRA was penalized for doing the job it was created to do,” Gottlieb adds. “This case is about correcting and preventing this sort of abuse now, and anytime in the future. When a government is able to weaponize its agencies, and its authority, to stifle views and activities with which it disagrees, something must be done to stop it and set an example that discourages others from trying the same thing.”

The SAF, no stranger to readers of TTAG, is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focused on the Consitutional right and heritage of private gun ownership in the country. It was founded in 1974. The John Locke Foundation is an independent, nonprofit think tank that works to influence public policy in the name of truth and freedom in North Carolina. The foundation, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, is dubbed a “right-of-center think tank” by Influence Watch. The Independence Institute is a Colorado-based think tank with the mission “to empower individuals and to educate citizens and opinion makers about public policies that enhance personal and economic freedom.”

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