(CBS) – The National Rifle Association said Friday that it has filed for bankruptcy and is moving to Texas, where the organization says it has 400,000 members. The NRA is currently based out of New York, where state Attorney General Letitia James has filed a lawsuit alleging financial crimes by its top officials and is seeking to disband the organization.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection stops all court and legal proceedings regarding debt or collection, while an organization restructures its debts. In May 2020, the NRA, which says it has 5 million members, laid off dozens of employees and shut down fundraising and its national convention amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The fundraising pause and the lack of a national convention in a presidential election year was a huge financial setback for the organization, although Americans bought a record number of guns in 2020.
The NRA said it is “restructuring” 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.” The NRA has been based out of New York since its inception in 1871.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted the news and wrote “welcome to Texas—a state that safeguards the 2nd Amendment.”
Meanwhile, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety, one of the largest organizations dedicated to reducing gun violence, called the NRA’s move an “attempt to escape legal culpability for years of financial mismanagement and illegal self dealing.”
“This desperate maneuver is a de facto admission of guilt,” John Feinblatt said in a statement.
James filed a lawsuit in August in New York that alleged the NRA and four of its top executives mismanaged funds and violated state and federal laws, resulting in the loss of more than $64 million for the organization in a span of three years. Senior leaders, James claims, misused millions from the NRA’s coffers on trips to the Bahamas, private jets, luxury hotels and fine dining.
The NRA’s president denied the allegations at the time, calling the lawsuit “a baseless, premeditated attack on our organization.”
The NRA said Friday that there would be “no immediate changes to the NRA’s operations or workforce.”