The National Rifle Association announced Friday that it’s filing for bankruptcy protection and will seek to reorganize in Texas in a seismic blow to the embattled gun-rights group.
The group filed a voluntary petition for chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in Texas on Friday.
“The NRA is pursuing reincorporating in a state that values the contributions of the NRA, celebrates our law-abiding members, and will join us as a partner in upholding constitutional freedom,” said Wayne LaPierre, the organization’s executive vice president and CEO. “This is a transformational moment in the history of the NRA.”
The group is currently chartered in New York and said it’s reorganizing as a Texas nonprofit group to exit “a corrupt political and regulatory environment” in the Empire State.
“Our work will continue as it always has. No major changes are expected to the NRA’s operations or workforce,” Mr. LaPierre said in a letter to members. “The NRA is not ‘bankrupt’ or ‘going out of business,’” he said. “The NRA is not insolvent. We are as financially strong as we have been in years.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James sued the NRA in August, alleging that top officials at the group, including Mr. LaPierre, illegally diverted money and caused the group to lose $64 million in three years. The group had countersued, accusing Ms. James of trampling on its First Amendment rights.
“Under this plan, the Association wisely seeks protection from New York officials who it believes have illegally weaponized their powers against the NRA and its members,” said William A. Brewer III, an attorney for the group in its legal battles in New York.
Ms. James said that relocating isn’t going to get the group off the hook. “The NRA’s claimed financial status has finally met its moral status: bankrupt,” Ms. James said. “While we review this filing, we will not allow the NRA to use this or any other tactic to evade accountability and my office’s oversight.”
For the time being, the NRA plans to keep its general business operations in Fairfax, Virginia, as it explores its options.
Mr. LaPierre told members that the “gun ban lobby” will never stop attacking, fueled by “a hatred of your freedoms” and by “wealthy benefactors.”
“This plan actually improves our business,” he said. “It protects us from costly, distracting and unprincipled attacks from anti-2A politicians aimed at attacking the NRA because we are a potent political force.”
The 20 largest unsecured claims from creditors who are not “insiders” total nearly $7.9 million, according to the bankruptcy filing.
The NRA said in the filing that it has between 200 and 999 creditors and that it has estimated assets and liabilities of between $100 million and $500 million.
The largest single claim, totaling more than $1.2 million, was from Ackerman McQueen, the NRA’s former public relations firm.
Another creditor is Under Wild Skies, a production company that sued the NRA in 2019 for breach of contract that also has ties to Ackerman McQueen. The Under Wild Skies claim is for $550,000.
Another creditor is Mercury Group, a subsidiary of Ackerman that has also done battle with the NRA in court in recent years. That claim totals $258,613.17. All three claims are listed as “disputed.”
The NRA and Ackerman McQueen went through a messy public breakup in 2019 after Mr. LaPierre survived an alleged attempt to oust him by former President Oliver North at the group’s annual convention.