Another failure for the powerful American arms lobby: the National Rifle Association (NRA) will not be able to declare bankruptcy in Texas and escape New York justice, which is calling for its dissolution, a Texas judge ruled on Tuesday, May 11.
“The Court considers that the NRA did not file for bankruptcy in good faith”, and is “Agree with the New York State prosecutor that the NRA is using this file to respond to a regulatory problem and not a financial problem”, said Harlin Hale, federal bankruptcy judge in Texas, in a 37-page decision.
In January, a judge in the State of New York had already ruled that the lobby, champion of the defense of gun owners and of the second amendment of the American Constitution, could not thus escape the civil action brought. against him in August 2020 by the prosecutor of that state, Letitia James.
After 15 months of investigation, she attacked the NRA and the one who has headed it since 1991, Wayne LaPierre, accusing them of abuse of corporate assets with the complicity of his close guard. Believing that the laws on charities have been violated, the prosecutor calls for the dissolution of the association and the withdrawal of Mr. LaPierre.
A legal battle set to continue
The 71-year-old leader is notably accused of having used the NRA’s private jet for personal purposes, or benefited from benefits in kind (safari or cruise) offered by the organization’s service providers.
The NRA then announced that it would move its headquarters to Dallas, Texas, a state where support for firearms is much stronger than in New York, and filed for bankruptcy in a federal court in that state.
Prosecutor Letitia James immediately welcomed the Texas judge’s ruling. “The NRA does not dictate whether or where it should answer for its actions, and our case will continue in New York courts”, she said during a press briefing. She felt that “Weeks of hearings underlined that NRA fraud and abuse continued long after our legal attack”.
If the future of Mr. LaPierre at the head of the association is more than ever in question, the legal battle is not over, however.
In a statement, the NRA promised that it “Would continue to fight, as she has been doing for 150 years”. “Although we are disappointed with some aspects of the decision [du juge texan], there is no change in the general direction of our association, its programs, and its defense of the 2e amendment “, she added.