The National Rifle Association, the oldest and largest civil rights group in the U.S., has filed for bankruptcy in New York state saying that it wishes to reorganize itself in Texas. In a press release on its website, the NRA makes clear that it is not insolvent but seeks to escape politically motivated and malicious prosecution by New York State Attorney General Letitia James. Attorney General James has previously called the NRA a “terrorist organization” and a criminal enterprise.

The NRA was formed in 1871 by two Union Army officers, Colonel William C. Church and General George Wingate. Both were appalled by the massive casualties of that war and marked the contrast between rural Confederate troops, who were very handy with their rifles, and Union soldiers drawn from large urban centers in the North who had no experience with marksmanship. That lack of experience proved deadly to a great many “bluecoats” on in their first combat action.

The NRA was granted a charter by New York State in November 1871. General Ambrose Burnside was named founder and first president of the organization.

The initial mission of the NRA was education, training, and marksmanship. As the organization grew in numbers and influence it expanded into hunting safety and education, then law enforcement training. Finally, with the rise of opposition to gun ownership, it became a civil rights organization with some five million paying members. Its influence over legislation affecting gun owners and the 2nd Amendment is both legendary and extensive in its successes. And this has earned it many a political adversary on the Left.

One of those adversaries very much appears to be Letitia James. In August 2020, her office filed a lawsuit alleging that NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and three other officers of the association misappropriated $65 million dollars from the NRA for their own purposes. However, while this lawsuit alleges things that would be criminal under New York law if proven true in a criminal court, AG James’s lawsuit is not a criminal indictment. Instead, the suit seeks that LaPierre and the other officers return the money they allegedly misused and never serve on another non-profit board in that state. Yet, it then goes on to demand that the NRA, as an organization, be disbanded entirely.

Since the NRA is a chartered non-profit in New York State, the state’s government is supposed to protect the interests of the organization’s donors. In principle, it works like this: People donate money to a non-profit asking it to forward and accomplish some agenda on their behalf. When someone steals or misappropriates those donations the state steps in to defend the donors’ interests saying in effect, “You cheated the donors out of the purpose for which those donations were sought, return the money so the organization can continue its work.” But by seeking to dissolve the NRA in its entirety the state of NY is signaling that it’s also hostile to what NRA members and donors are trying to accomplish through their donations.

No doubt this prompted the NRA to seek protection from the Federal Bankruptcy Court and relocate to Texas.

Attorney General James has said that her suit is not politically motivated. But her own statements prior to being elected make her claims highly suspect. During her run for office more than two years ago, James vowed that if elected she’d use her office to go after the NRA claiming it had a “poisonous agenda” and was “directly antithetical” to New York’s harsh gun-control laws. Imagine if New York, which has outrageously high taxes, said it was going to ban a non-profit group that advocated for lower taxes because lowering taxes was “antithetical” to the state’s interests. In such a case you would have the government using its power to punish groups of citizens seeking redress of their grievances — as in this suit against the NRA.