The influential National Rifle Association (NRA) in the United States unites Second Amendment supporters, conservatives and libertarians. For decades it was considered to be virtually inviolable, mainly as the group has the support of many top politicians in Congress and several other powerful institutions. Now, however, the situation could get uncomfortable for the NRA as the state of New York has brought charges against the NRA for fraud. New York’s goal is simple: dissolving the NRA.
Mission: Dissolve the NRA
The NRA is the most influential voice in the gun lobby in the United States. Now, after 18 months of investigations, the Attorney General of the State of New York Letitia James has brought charges against the organization. “Fraud and abuse” has been ongoing in the NRA for years, according to James. According to her charges, NRA chief Wayne LaPierre and three other executives have embezzled association funds on a large scale. They have allegedly utilized the organization as a “personal piggy bank” and “plundered” it without being checked. As a result, the NRA lost more than $ 64 million in this way – in the previous three years alone, according to James. In fact, the corruption is “so broad” that James has stated that the total dissolution of the organisation is necessary.
What are the NRA Leaders Accused of Doing?
The four suspects are accused of – inter alia – stealing money for luxury trips and giving profitable contracts to family members and friends. LaPierre alone is accused of having spent $ 3.6 million on safari trips and private driving services in just three years. He is further accused of having flown eight times in a private jet to the Bahamas in order to vacation there on a yacht provided for by an NRA service partner. LaPierre is also charged with having obtained a $17 million pension package without the approval of the organization’s board of directors.
Charges were also brought against the NRA, and an adjacent foundation on Thursday. Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine said the lobby organization misused millions of dollars in foundation funds in the district as well as its other alleged wrongdoing.
The NRA Denies All Wrongdoing
The NRA immediately denied all allegations and spoke of these developments as a political maneuver prior to the presidential and congressional elections on November 3. According to the organization’s president Carolyn Meadows, these legal charges are an “obvious attempt to score politically and to attack the leading voice of the opposition against the left-wing agenda.”
President Donald Trump called the lawsuit against the NRA a “terrible thing” and suggested that the lobby association registered in New York should move to Texas and live a “very good and beautiful life” there. Trump later wrote on Twitter that just as the “radical left New York” wanted to “destroy” the NRA, his challenger in the presidential election, Democrat and former VP Joe Biden, wanted to abolish the right to own guns, a position which is not contained in Biden’s platform.
Biden Doesn’t Want to End Gun Ownership
Trump repeatedly accuses the Democrats of wanting to abolish the right to bear arms, which is enshrined in the Second Amendment. Leading Democrats, however, only advocate for a tightening of gun laws, such as additional background checks.
The issue of firearms could well play an essential role in the election campaign before November 3. The NRA is one of the most influential lobby organizations in the United States and claims to have around five million members. For decades it has been resisting the tightening of gun laws, sometimes using highly controversial methods.
Spotlight on the NRA
The NRA has not-for-profit status and is therefore subject to special donation and charity requirements. It is traditionally conservative and has enormous political influence, especially in Congress, where many Republican Congressmen openly speak out for the NRA and receive endorsements and donations for election campaigns in return. The NRA also supports Trump. In 2016 the NRA supported Trump in the presidential election campaign with more than 30 million dollars, according to figures from the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
There have been discussions in the United States about the influence of the NRA for years. Recently, however, the debate seems to have intensified. In the midterm mid-term elections in 2018, for example, groups that advocated stricter gun laws spent more money. Republicans sponsored by the NRA even lost the majority in the House of Representatives.
Moreover, many individual US states have also tightened their gun regulations slightly in recent time. For Trump and his reelection efforts, however, gun owners remain an essential part of his base.