The non-profit National Rifle Association, founded in 1871, describes itself as “America’s longest-standing civil rights organization.” With nearly five million members, the NRA is also one of the nation’s largest and most influential organizations, promoting the safe ownership and use of firearms. Through its affiliated foundation (a tax-exempt entity formed in 1990), political advocacy arm (the Institute for Legislative Action), publications, and programs, the NRA is widely regarded as the leading champion of the rights of gun owners. The NRA’s mission is “preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” Disclosure: I am a Life Member of the NRA.
Opponents of gun ownership tend to be quite vociferous, and the topic of gun rights is highly polarized and contentious, on both sides. Because of its fierce—and effective—defense of the Second Amendment, proponents of gun control view the NRA as a prime enemy. The latest attack on the NRA, via lawfare, is an apparent attempt to tie up the group’s financial resources—earmarked for pro-Trump ads—by forcing the organization to incur massive legal fees fighting a blatantly partisan lawsuit filed by an ambitious ideologue from New York. First, a bit of backstory is necessary to fully understand the significance of the New York Attorney General’s unprecedented attack on the NRA.