New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing governors to target the National Rifle Association, again… READ THE FULL STORY
By Jimmy Vielkind
The National Rifle Association sued Cuomo and his financial services superintendent in May, saying fines by the state Department of Financial Services were exacting a “political vendetta” by the Democratic governor that was having a chilling effect on its advocacy.
Early last week, Cuomo urged leaders in other states to take similar actions against the NRA’s Carry Guard insurance program, which covers legal costs stemming from self-defense shootings, something New York argues is unlawful. The NY Department of Financial Services has also pushed firms not to do business with the NRA, the NRA contends, under threat the firms could lose their license to operate in New York.
The effect of these moves and Cuomo’s public statements has been to “coerce insurance agencies, insurers and banks into terminating business relationships with the NRA that were necessary to the survival of the NRA as a charitable organization,” the NRA said in an amended complaint filed July 20.
Cuomo: “If I could have put the NRA out of business, I would have done it 20 years ago,” the governor said late Friday after Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a motion to dismiss the NRA’s suit. He added on Saturday: “I’m tired of hearing the politicians say, we’ll remember them in our thoughts and prayers. If the NRA goes away, I’ll remember the NRA in my thoughts and prayers.”
Cuomo wrote to other governors last Monday, urging them to “examine your laws and determine whether or not this product is being illegally sold in your state, and I encourage you to follow New York’s lead and block the sale of these NRA products if they are illegal, or to outlaw these products if they are not already prohibited.”
He took his message to national media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” and National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” on Sunday. Cuomo, who is seeking a third term in November and faces a Democratic primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon, also released a campaign advertisement.
Gun control is popular in New York, especially among Democrats, polls show. In 2013, about a month after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Cuomo pushed through a multi-pronged gun-control bill called the SAFE Act, NY S2230 (13R).
Cuomo, who is positioning himself for a possible 2020 presidential run, has seized on the issue in the wake of subsequent shootings, including at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. A July analysis by Quorum found that Cuomo made more public statements about guns than any other governor in 2018.
The NRA deferred comment to William Brewer, its lawyer in the suit against Cuomo. Brewer said the NRA stands by its Carry Guard program.
Brewer: “It appears the Governor has launched yet another crusade against the NRA to fuel his political ambitions,” Brewer said in a statement. “The governor’s current campaign against the NRA extends far beyond Carry Guard. His scorched earth tactics are designed to prohibit the NRA from having access to insurance and banking services — simply because he disagrees with the political viewpoint of this law-abiding organization. Suffice it to say, the NRA will continue to vigorously defend itself, advocate for the Second Amendment, and fight to protect the Constitutional freedoms of all Americans.”
It’s unclear how much Carry Guard, which was launched in April 2017, contributes. According to the NRA’s most recently available tax returns, it took in $366.9 million and spent $412.7 million in 2016.
So far, no other states have heeded Cuomo’s call, a spokesperson said.