The National Rifle Association filed for bankruptcy on Friday.
In a letter to members, Wayne LaPierre, the head of the notorious gun lobby group, wrote, “The plan aims to streamline costs and expenses, proceed with pending litigation in a coordinated and structured manner, and realize many financial and strategic advantages.”
The group will apparently relocate from the “toxic political environment of New York,” where it is now registered as a nonprofit, to Texas. It is physically headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia. For his part, LaPierre referred to the bankruptcy filing and reincorporation in the Lone Star State as a “restructuring plan.”
The virulently pro-gun organization has been plagued by infighting among its executive ranks and legal troubles over the past year and was sued for fraud by New York Attorney General Letitia James in August. The attorney general alleges senior executives used millions in NRA funds for personal purchases like private jets and is seeking to dissolve the organization. The NRA has countersued. Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has also sued the NRA’s charity arm over alleged misuse of donations.
James responded to the Friday news in a statement, “The NRA’s claimed financial status has finally met its moral status: bankrupt.”
LaPierre wrote on Friday that Texas “appreciates the contributions of the NRA,” where it boasts 400,000 members.
LaPierre strenuously attempted to frame the “voluntary Chapter 11 proceedings” as a positive development, despite years of rough financial news.
The organization’s bankruptcy court petition listed assets and liabilities of up to $500 million each, Bloomberg reports. The NRA laid off dozens of employees and cut the pay of dozens more in May 2020 because the coronavirus pandemic kneecapped its in-person fundraising efforts. In a 2018 court filing, the organization wrote that regulatory challenges, particularly in New York, might render it “unable to exist.” In the same filing, the NRA disclosed it had overspent its budget by $46 million.
“You know that our opponents will try to seize upon this news and distort the truth,” LaPierre wrote Friday. “Don’t believe what you read from our enemies. The NRA is not ‘bankrupt’ or ‘going out of business.’ The NRA is not insolvent. We are as financially strong as we have been in years.”