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Verdicts & Settlements

Judge: National Rifle Association Can’t Sue New York for Shuttering Gun Shops During Coronavirus Outbreak

— August 15, 2020

A judge said the NRA lacked standing to sue New York for shutting gun shops at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.

A federal judge has tossed a National Rifle Association lawsuit against New York state.

The lawsuit, writes Reuters, was critical of the state’s decision to close gun stores at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. In its initial complaint, the NRA argued that firearms are essential products, and that gun stores are therefore essential businesses.

By cutting New York consumers off from firearms and ammunition suppliers, the NRA claimed, the state was effectively violating all of its residents Second, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The organization further said that New York’s coronavirus mitigation efforts amount to “a pointless and arbitrary attack on the constitutional rights” of citizens and residents.

However, Judge Mae D’Agostino—an Obama appointee—found that the National Rifle Association lacked legal standing to challenge New York’s closure of firearms stores.

D’Agostino suggested that the NRA was essentially trying to equate its members’ concerns and questions with adequate legal standing. In her ruling, D’Agostino said that simply having to answer inquiries does not entitle an individual or organization to claim “perceptible impairment.”

“Plaintiff’s failure to provide any specific facts to support its assertion of injury-in-fact requisite for organizational standing is dispositive,” she wrote. “To allow standing based on these allegations alone would mean that any entity that spends money on an issue of particular interest to it would have standing.”

Reuters notes that Albany-based D’Agostino refused to let the National Rifle Association alter its complain to avoid dismissal, reasoning there would be no point—as it stands, D’Agostino said, New York’s closure of firearms stores never impacted the NRA’s ability to advocate for its members.

New York Attorney General and former city council member Letitia James. Image via Wikimedia Commons/user:Matthew Cohen. (CCA-BY-2.0).

William Brewer, an attorney for the NRA, tried to pull some positivity from the ruling.

“Although we respectfully disagree that the NRA lacked standing to pursue this case—then or now—we were pleased the action brought attention to an abuse of power against gun retailers,” Brewer said.

New York officials, in contrast, said D’Agostino’s dismissal shows just how futile the NRA’s case was.

“It’s not surprise that yet another frivolous lawsuit by the NRA has been laughed out of court,” Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said in a statement. “Their brand of destructive political games are bad enough in normal times and are completely beyond the pale during the pandemic.”

As LegalReader reported earlier this month, New York Attorney General Letitia James is pursuing her own lawsuit against the National Rifle Association.

James’s case is somewhat striking, claiming that the NRA’s upper leadership is incorrigibly corrupt. Alongside seeking damages and restitution for members whose dues may have been embezzled, James wants to see the entire organization permanently dismantled.


Court Tosses NRA’s Gun Store Lawsuit Against New York

Judge dismisses NRA lawsuit over New York shuttering gun shops during COVID-19

Judge dismisses NRA lawsuit over New York shuttering gun shops during pandemic

U.S. judge dismisses NRA lawsuit challenging gun shop closures in New York state

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