New York Attorney General Letitia James made news recently when she filed a lawsuit asking a judge to dismantle the National Rifle Association.
But there really wasn’t anything new about her actions. More like predictable, unsubstantiated and even sad.
Some will remember that in Ms. James’ campaign to become the attorney general, she denounced the pro-Second Amendment organization as a “terrorist organization.” It was during an October 2018 interview that she criticized many, including President Donald Trump. But she saved much of her wrath for the NRA, saying, “And the NRA holds itself out as a charitable organization, but in fact, it really is a terrorist organization.”
Now, the NRA isn’t immune to criticism. At times, it has been its own worst enemy in light of questionable practices by NRA leadership, in particular longtime executive director Wayne LaPierre.
But to go so far as equating the NRA and its members with terrorists takes things to a whole new level. NRA President Carolyn Meadows called the lawsuit “a baseless, premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend. It’s a transparent attempt to score political points and attack the leading voice in opposition to the leftist agenda.”
Here’s the reality: Not all that many Americans care about about internal NRA politics. What they do care about, though, are their Second Amendment rights and the NRA’s place in American politics at the vanguard of protecting those rights.
What Ms. James may not have counted on, however, is that her lawsuit may have the opposite effect of what she sought.
Joe Hannon, vice president of Gun Owners of New Hampshire, recently said, “This attempt to harm millions of NRA members … is a blatant abuse of public office. It is meant to terrorize the very people she calls terrorists. It will energize gun owners in November. We will not be silenced.”
Gun ownership, which has been on the rise since the Barack Obama administration, has been soaring in the wake of both the coronavirus and public disorder this summer in the wake of the death of George Floyd. In June, for example, the FBI conducted more gun-purchase background checks than in any single month in history.
NPR has reported that nearly half of the new purchases are by first-time gun buyers, increasing the number of Americans with a vested interest in the Second Amendment.
We suspect that this issue will have an impact in November’s presidential election. Voters who are Second Amendment supporters will pay attention and serve as motivation.