The New York Attorney General’s lawsuit against the National Rifle Association isn’t just a “witch hunt,” a New York judge on Friday dismissed claims from a gun rights advocacy group that the case was a political vendetta.
Manhattan Judge Joel M. Cohen’s ruling means the nearly two-year-long legal battle could continue.
The decision comes after the resumption of debate over US gun policy and focus on the NRA following the mass shootings in New York and Texas last month.
The New York case began when Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, filed a lawsuit accusing some top NRA officials of financial irregularities and calling for the group to be dissolved. The attorney general’s job includes overseeing non-profit organizations based in New York, where the NRA was chartered in 1871.
In March, Cohen turned down James’ bid to shut down the NRA. But the judge let the case proceed, with the potential for fines or other remedies if the attorney general wins.
The NRA accused James in a court of law last year of running “a coercive and malicious retaliation campaign” because of his views. The group sought to stop the trial.
Cohen dismissed those arguments.
“The narrative that the attorney general’s investigation into these undeniably serious cases was nothing more than a politically motivated – and unconstitutional – witch hunt is simply not supported by the record,” they wrote, noting that the investigation began with reports of misconduct. and “disclosed additional evidence.”
James applauded the decision, saying it reaffirmed the suit’s “validity and viability”.
“Our fight for transparency and accountability will continue,” he said in a statement.
NRA lawyer William A. Brewer III stated that the group is disappointed, but will continue to fight the case and still believes it was unfairly targeted.
“The NRA believes that the pursuit of the NYAG was motivated by its First Amendment activities in opposition to the Association and in support of the Second Amendment,” he said in a statement, using an acronym for the title of Attorney General.
In the wake of the recent shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, Congress is under pressure to respond after years of partisan impasse over gun legislation.
The House has passed bills that would raise the age limit for purchasing semi-automatic weapons and establish federal “red flag” laws that allow guns to be taken from people at high risk of harming themselves or others. Such initiatives have traditionally faltered in the Senate.
Democratic and Republican senators are in talks about a framework to address the issue, but no agreement has been announced.
The NRA – a longstanding political force that has lost some influence in recent years amid financial scandals – has long insisted there is no reason to limit access to mass shooting guns, arguing that Giving that law-abiding people have firearms to the rescue. himself and others.
The message was echoed at the group’s convention in Houston last month, when a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde.
Rallies are planned for significant changes to gun laws in Washington and across the country this weekend and are expected to attract thousands.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has also been caught in a national tug-of-war over the replacement of guns in the US. The judges are expected to soon issue their most consequential gun rule in more than a decade, potentially making it easier to be armed on the streets of New York and other large cities.