In November, alarm bells started to ring about the National Rifle Association’s finances. At the time, the gun rights group was reportedly unable to afford coffee for its employees. At the time, the news was just another financial hit for the organization that had been suffering from declining revenues and membership dues.
Now, in a fundraising letter sent this month, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre has warned that the NRA could shut down forever, blaming New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“Right now we’re facing an attack that’s unprecedented not just in the history of the NRA, but in the entire history of our country,” LaPierre wrote. “And if this attack succeeds, NRA will be forced to shut down forever.”
Currently, the gun rights group is entangled in a lawsuit against the state of New York and Gov. Cuomo. The lawsuit alleges that the governor in his capacity has pressured financial institutions and insurers to stop working with the NRA.
Insurance company Lockton provided personal liability insurance for members of the NRA’s Carry Guard program, which provides training for self-defense and other resources. According to the Carry Guard website, “without insurance, lawful self-defense can cost you a fortune.” The insurance is no longer available in New York after Lockton was hit with a $7.5 million fine in May 2018. New York’s Department of Financial Services said the NRA is not licensed to conduct insurance business in the state.
Though fundraising emails often use dramatic and hyperbolic language to inspire recipients to donate, this letter isn’t the first time that the NRA has cautioned they faced financial difficulties.
In the lawsuit’s complaint, the NRA alleges an “an overt viewpoint-based discrimination campaign against the NRA.” The complaint also states: “If the NRA is unable to collect donations from its members, safeguard the assets endowed to it, apply its funds to cover media buys and other expenses integral to its political speech, and obtain basic corporate insurance coverage, it will be unable to exist as a not-for-profit or pursue its advocacy mission.”
“Defendants seek to silence one of America’s oldest constitutional rights advocates. If their abuses are not enjoined, they will soon, substantially, succeed,” the complaint says.
This complaint was repeated in LaPierre’s letter to donors.
“Cuomo’s tactics are already working,” the NRA says in its letter. “One by one, more and more banks and insurance companies across the country are knuckling under to Cuomo’s threat — and telling NRA they won’t do business with us — because they don’t want to be targeted and crushed by Cuomo’s strong-arm tactics and the vast power of thousands of New York bureaucrats.”
“Unless we can force Cuomo to break off this attack, NRA will have no choice but to cease operations after 147 years of fighting for freedom.”
According to a Daily Beast report, LaPierre then compared Cuomo’s efforts to government efforts to crack down on dissent in China, Cuba, and North Korea.
“You and I have seen how the power of government has been used in China and Cuba and North Korea to stamp out opposing views and silence political opponents,” he wrote. “But never in my life did I think we’d see these tactics brazenly and openly deployed by government officials, right here in the United States, to destroy people and organizations they disagree with.”
The NRA then makes a final plea for contributions, saying that the group cannot “survive without your help.”
Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.