New York state has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit from the National Rifle Association over the state’s efforts to drive a wedge between insurers and the gun-rights group.
It’s the second time the state filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, after arguing in a previous filing that the state’s actions have done nothing to infringe on the NRA’s free speech rights. The new motion to dismiss is in response to an amended complaint filed by the NRA last month.
The state claimed in its new motion Friday afternoon that actions from Cuomo and the state Department of Financial Services did not stifle the gun lobby group’s First Amendment rights. The motion argued that the state was acting on “violations of law that do not, as a matter of law, implicate the NRA’s First Amendment Rights.”
The state also argued in its motion that the state’s actions, which included press releases and consent orders with insurers, were protected government speech and were not “implied threats to employ coercive state power.”
In a lawsuit filed in May, the NRA claimed that Cuomo and state Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo conspired to coerce financial institutions to sever business ties with the association, causing it to suffer financial losses. The association claimed those actions infringed on its free speech protections to advocate for gun rights.
The state argued in an opposing motion to the NRA in early July that the insurers they were targeting were selling insurance coverage that violated state law. That insurance, called Carry Guard, provides coverage for criminal defense costs and civil protections incurred after a gun is used in self-defense.
The state wrote in its July motion that the coverage is illegal because “New York state law prohibits insurance coverage to defense costs arising out of a crime.” The state also said the Carry Guard program did not meet the minimum requirements for liability insurance policies in New York state.
The state also argued that the NRA’s lawsuit is a retaliatory effort against the state’s actions in regard to the Carry Guard program.
An amended complaint filed by the NRA last month claimed the association has experienced significant financial hardship as a result of the state’s actions. The gun lobby group said in the amended complaint that it has had trouble obtaining banking services and insurance products, which has caused a financial strain on the association.
It said in the amended complaint that if it continues to lose money after the state’s actions, it may have to cut services for members, like their livestream television channel and print publications.
Cuomo responded to that argument in a statement Friday afternoon.
“If I could have put the NRA out of business, I would have done it 20 years ago,” Cuomo said.
William Brewer III is the lead attorney for the NRA in the case from Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors in Dallas. The state Attorney General’s Office is representing Cuomo and the DFS.
The case is before U.S. District Judge Christian Hummel of Northern District of New York.