New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo hasn’t been shy about attacking the National Rifle Association in a transparent bid to earn election-year brownie points, but his latest assault moves beyond gun rights—and he’s urging other governors to follow his lead.
In a letter to an unnamed set of state governors, Cuomo asks his counterparts to restrict the NRA’s ability to offer its “Carry Guard” concealed carry insurance. Cuomo claims the insurance program covers “intentional criminal conduct resulting in bodily harm,” and his Department of Financial Services has already cracked down on the insurance companies working with the NRA to provide this product.
“Shockingly, we have discovered that this product is being sold in other states across the country,” Cuomo says in the letter. “I urge you 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.”
“It would be highly unusual for a state to allow an insurance company to reimburse for an illegal activity. They call it ‘murder insurance,'” the governor told CNN.
Cuomo’s bit comes as a response to a lawsuit brought by the NRA that claims the state’s regulatory apparatus has illegally coerced financial companies—like those that back Carry Guard—into halting business ties with the gun-rights group. The suit claims that the NRA has been the victim of a “blacklisting campaign” that violates their constitutional rights to speech and association.
“Political differences aside, our client believes the tactics employed by these public officials are aimed to deprive the NRA of its First Amendment right to speak freely about gun-related issues and in defense of the Second Amendment,” says William A. Brewer III, partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors and counsel to the NRA. “We believe these actions are outside the authority of DFS and fail to honor the principles which require public officials to protect the constitutional rights of all citizens.”
Cuomo has filed a motion to dismiss the suit, and he’s taken to the cable news networks to push his message.
“I believe the NRA represents an extremist group,” he told CNN. “I believe they’ve been counterproductive for gun owners in this country. I believe their politics suits them to stop any common-sense gun reform.”
The NRA only recently began offering its Carry Guard insurance to compete with similar products offered by the United States Concealed Carry Association and state-specific companies. Broadly speaking, the insurance covers legal fees if a policyholder is involved in a self-defense shooting.
Cuomo claims the NRA’s product is illegal under New York State law, and the Department of Financial Services has already fined several insurance companies hundreds of thousands of dollars for participating in the NRA’s program. Without the participation of these companies in New York and other states, the NRA will no longer be able to offer insurance.