NRA Sues NY Gov. Cuomo for Violating First Amendment Rights

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (Photo: Facebook)

Less than a month after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a press release directing New York insurance companies to “review” their relationship with the NRA, the National Rifle Association has sued the Governor, New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”), and DFS Superintendent Maria T. Vullo on First Amendment grounds.

The NRA claims that Cuomo’s guidance letters were accompanied by back-channel communications and targeted enforcement actions that suppressed the free speech of Second Amendment supporters and forced several insurance companies to sever their relationship with the NRA.

“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.”

On April 19, 2018, the DFS issued two “guidance letters” encouraging financial institutions to “take prompt actions” to manage “reputational risk” posed by dealings with “gun promotion organizations.” The same day Gov. Cuomo and Superintendent Vullo published a press release reiterating the DFS stance:

“DFS urges all insurance companies and banks doing business in New York to join the companies that have already discontinued their arrangements with the NRA, and to take prompt actions to manage these risks and promote public health and safety.”

Fearing regulatory retaliation, at least two insurance companies have already ended their partnerships with the NRA and plan to cancel insurance policies with law-abiding New York customers.

SEE ALSO: CCRKBA: Maybe Schneiderman Needs Self Control, Not Gun Control

“As a direct result of this coercion, multiple firms have succumbed to Defendants’ demands and entered into consent orders with DFS that compel them to terminate longstanding, beneficial business relationships with the NRA both in New York and elsewhere,” the lawsuit notes. “Tellingly, several provisions in the orders bear no relation to any ostensible regulatory infraction. Instead, the orders prohibit lawful commercial speech for no reason other than that it carries the NRA brand.”

The actions of these insurance companies might provide all the evidence the NRA needs to prove that Cuomo’s public stance and private actions have had a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of pro-2A organizations. As the lawsuit points out, Cuomo and the DFS have “made it clear to banks and insurers that it is bad business in New York to do business with the NRA.”

If the NRA’s lawyers can prove that Cuomo and the DFS discriminated against the organization’s viewpoint by threats of legal sanctions, coercion, persuasion, and intimidation, they may have a chance to win.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over two years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Gary J Dinnan July 29, 2018, 9:38 pm

    Can’t He be treated under the Reco Act !

  • Hondo May 20, 2018, 1:01 pm

    So it’s the NRA’s fault that New York voted this clown in and he is doing exactly what New Yorkers wanted.

    Look his dad was a pos and so is his stupid kid.

  • Ziggy May 19, 2018, 10:51 am

    Back in the day, the President was willing to send the National Guard to enforce the civil rights of African Americans against the southern states. That is the kind of action I would like to see.

  • MadDog Mike May 18, 2018, 10:20 pm

    Yes NRA, use some of that money and clout to fight these governors, mayors, city councils, etc. that are passing law restrictions and talking guns away from law abiding American citizens.

  • Luis G Bonilla May 18, 2018, 1:55 pm

    Is the governor willing to pay , all of the employees who will loose their jobs when the gun manufactures have to lay off employees because of the banks and insurance companies stop doing business with gun them.

    Since he is rich , I guess that he can afford to support the families of the unemployed workers

  • Gary May 18, 2018, 10:21 am

    You had me fooled for a minute there Jordan. I thought the NRA had actually TRIED to do something for the GUN OWNERS of NY. I was truly shocked, it’s been a long time since the NRA had done Anything for NY gun owners at all other than posture a little bit then give up!
    It’s EASY to jump on some politition in a state like TX or AL, or NM. Because most of the rest of them are all pro gun. But, no matter WHAT stupid crappy NY idiot wants to pass for a gun law in NY the NRA become mutes! I got tired of it and stopped donating my hard earned money to a group that just writes off the states they would actually have to battle with. Such as NY, NJ, MA, MN, pretty much anything that borders the ocean. Just like they have done to California starting years ago!
    Of course that is just my opinion on what I see happening here. I recommend to my gun club friends and my clients (that are gun owners) to reroute that money wasted on the NRA to other PRO gun political fighting orgs in NY. That’s what I do with mine now, at least we see SOME action out of them! Some is 100% + more than the Zero that the NRA puts in to it.
    Yep, I should have known the NRA was fighting the Governors office because it will cost THE NRA money! Now That they WILL fight for!
    Sometime add up the number of NRA members nation wide, times the dues they pay, and check what they spend on polititions. I would like to know what they spend the rest on, other than free crapp they send you to send in your dues over and over again! Otherwise the hunting shows on TV that do as much to hurt the sport as help it. (Not to mention all the real sponcers each show has.) Want to have TV shows? Have shows that SHOW how owning a gun can save your life and those of your family. WHY the second amendment is in the Constitution to begin with. Believe it or not, most people don’t know it’s to protect us from the government, and home grown criminals. Not Invaders! And put it on Prime Time on a REAL network channel.not a cable channel I have to pay extra just to see what I am already paying you for!
    We get magazines and gifts. WE are the choir guys. You don’t have to preach to US! Spend the money where it will do some good. Spend it in Washington, and all those anti gun states you ignore. When Money talks, polititions Listen!!

    • Keith May 18, 2018, 12:37 pm

      What do you want the National Rifle Association to do for New York? About 66% of the State population want peaceful citizens to be thrown in jail for possessing standard capacity magazines that hold 11 rounds or more and have gun registration and many many laws that infringe the Second Amendment. New York State is a tyranny and loaded with tyrants like Cuomo. Do what I did with California and leave. Pick one of the 37 remaining States that respect your rights and vote for and support liberty. Any candidate that promotes socialism do not support and vote against them.

  • Alan May 18, 2018, 10:13 am

    I would like to see NRA members filing lawsuit against all State governments that are passing laws violating our Second Amendment Right. It’s time to hit back!

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