Opinion: The NRA’s Bankruptcy is a Large Step Forward for Gun Control

Updated: Oct 16, 2021

According to the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, the American people have a right to bear arms without infringement. However, the lack of gun control in the U.S. shatters lives and communities across the country. The fight for gun control has spurred countless movements. One of the most prominent is March for Our Lives student demonstration and organization. The National Rifle Association (NRA) counters March for Our Lives. The NRA is a not-for-profit, charitable corporation, and is the most powerful gun-rights lobbyist group in the U.S, aggressively arguing that guns make the country safer. They recently filed for bankruptcy to dissolve their subsidiary in New York and relocate to Texas in fear of a lawsuit, a huge step in the fight for gun control.

On Aug. 6, 2020, New York’s Attorney General, Letitia James, filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA. She charged the gun-rights advocacy group with illegal conduct for redirecting millions of dollars away from their mission. The NRA’s senior leadership was using this money for personal use. The organization was awarding contracts for the financial gain of close associates and family and distributing no-show contracts to former employees to buy their silence and continued loyalty. The corruption was revealed by Attorney General James’ investigation. On Jan. 15, the NRA filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in an effort to avoid being further investigated by Attorney General James. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy entails that the NRA will have to propose a reorganization plan to keep their business alive and pay back creditors. They plan to leave New York and rebuild in Texas in a move they are calling Project Freedom.

In a statement released on Jan. 15, the NRA claimed that they are not bankrupt or going out of business, but are instead as financially strong as they have been for years. Filing under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code helps facilitate their plans in restructuring. Regardless of their claims, the fact that the NRA was scared enough to relocate proves that Attorney General James is going to go hard on them.

The NRA can not be entirely successful in evading Attorney General James’ lawsuit. Although they can set up a new corporation in Texas, their assets can not be released without consent from New York authorities. The NRA would need the bankruptcy court to give them the ability to control their assets to have a successful reorganization. Since the NRA is a New York nonprofit, they cannot reorganize without New York’s blessing, and there is a good chance they may not get it because Attorney General James is likely to put up a fight.

After the NRA filed for bankruptcy, Attorney General James expressed her opposition to the reorganization in a tweet that said, “While we review its bankruptcy filing, we will not allow the @NRA to use this or any other tactic to evade accountability and my office’s oversight.” Hopefully, the NRA’s assets are not released so they have to face Attorney General James’s lawsuit.

For the longest time, the NRA has been an enabler of gun violence. Whenever a mass shooting occurs, which is far too often, the same debate pops up. Gun control advocates push for better universal background checks and tougher laws banning assault weapons, because too many lives have been lost to easily preventable gun violence but gun rights advocates fight for the protection of their Second Amendment rights and believe that gun control gives the government too much power over the people. They also state that gun control infringes upon the right to self-defense.

For example, in 2007, 23 year old Seung-Hui Cho, an undergraduate student at Virginia Tech, got his hands on two semi-automatic handguns and killed 32 people and injured 17 others. Cho had a history of severe depression and selective mutism and was declared mentally ill after stalking two female students. Because the state of Virginia had several legal loopholes, Cho was able to purchase the two handguns without detection by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICBCS).

Despite several mass shootings like the one at Virginia Tech, privacy laws and loopholes still allow mentally unsound individuals to buy and use handguns. The NRA and other conservatives argue that the root of the problem is not guns but a range of different issues. Mental health, school security, video games and excessive prescriptions of attention-deficit disorder drugs such as Ritalin are all considered to be problems that lead to gun abuse by the NRA.

The NRA has chosen not to face the facts for too long and fight the wrong fight. If they are dissolved, the country’s most influential gun-rights advocacy group will be gone, paving the way for more gun control legislation to be introduced and passed in government. Taking preventative measures to make sure no one succumbs to gun violence is much safer and easier to handle than having to apologize to the families of innocent civilians killed because of an amendment passed over 200 years ago.

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