The National Rifle Association filed for bankruptcy on Friday, an unexpected move that could help the gun rights organization elude charges by New York's attorney general seeking for its disbandment, Axios and others reported on Saturday.
The NRA voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 and is looking to reincorporate in Texas as a not-for-profit group, it announced on Friday. In its bankruptcy filing, the NRA said its assets and liabilities reached $500 million.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott commented on the news on Twitter: "Welcome to Texas, a state that safeguards the 2nd Amendment."
NRA is registered as a non-profit in New York since 1871. But in August last year, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the group, accusing it of reallocating money to its executives and creating questionable deals to buy out "silence" and encourage "loyalty."
In a media release, the NRA said its plan, which involves "employing the protection of the bankruptcy court," has the association "dumping New York and organizing its legal and regulatory matters in an efficient forum," HuffPost quoted the group as saying.
"This strategic plan represents a path to growth, opportunity, and progress... obviously, an important part of this plan is 'dumping New York,'" NRA chief executive officer Wayne LaPierre said in a statement. The group says it has 5 million members.
LaPierre said they seek protection from New York officials who he claims illegally abused and "weaponized the powers" they wield against the group and its members.
In her August lawsuit, James said NRA officials diverted millions of dollars to bankroll extravagant lifestyles, including private jets and vacations, costing the group around $64 million over three years.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection blocks all legal proceedings with regards debt or collection, while an organization restructures its debts. In May last year, the NRA ended the employment contract of multiple workers and suspended fundraising and its national convention in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The NRA has cut salaries in response to the ongoing global health crisis, and has also been losing money in legal fees as infighting among the groups officials has worsened in recent years.
NRA said it would continue to safeguard its members' constitutional rights under the 2nd Amendment, which guarantees the "right to keep and bear arms."
Meanwhile, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety, one of the biggest groups dedicated to minimizing gun violence, described the NRA's move as an attempt to "escape legal culpability," CBS News reported.