An economic bankruptcy as a move. This is the strategy adopted in the United States by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the powerful arms lobby, which announced on Friday that it had declared bankruptcy in order to freeze legal proceedings in New York State. The NRA and one of its subsidiaries have opened so-called “Chapter 11” proceedings in Texas bankruptcy court to secure its future “free from the toxic political environment of New York,” wrote its boss, Wayne. LaPierre, in a letter to its members.
This move is part of a restructuring plan that aims to transplant the influential conservative group to Texas, where the guns are king. “This plan can be summed up very simply: we PLATE New York,” he added.
The suspended proceedings
The justice of New York, Democratic State, had filed a complaint in August against the NRA, Wayne LaPierre and three other senior officials, accused of having used the contributions of their members as “their own piggy bank”, to the point of having made the almost insolvent organization. Attorney General Letitia James had denied any political motivation, while acknowledging that the complaint could lead to the dissolution of the NRA.
“The financial status declared by the NRA has finally joined its moral state: bankrupt,” she commented after the announcement of the restructuring plan. “We will not allow the NRA to use this tactic or any other to evade its responsibilities,” she added. In the United States, going under Chapter 11 results in the stay of lawsuits and prevents creditors from taking action to obtain payment of their debts. “No major changes in operations and in personnel are expected,” assured Wayne LaPierre. “The NRA is not bankrupt, does not stop its activities and is not insolvent,” he continued.
LaPierre’s endless reign
Founded in 1871 to promote marksmanship, the association of sportsmen and hunters became a formidable political machine from the 1980s, and its influence greatly exceeds the 5 million members it claims. Extremely active with elected officials, whom it finances or notes unfavorably, it has blocked numerous legislative proposals aimed at strengthening controls on the purchase or carrying of weapons. The NRA poured millions of dollars into Donald Trump’s two presidential campaigns.
Wayne LaPierre, who has been at its head for about thirty years, was the architect of this change. In 2019, he managed to ward off rivals who were trying to end his reign, without preventing an embarrassing unboxing. Internal documents disseminated on the Internet or in the press revealed the manager’s expensive lifestyle, with luxury clothing and trips to the Bahamas or Italy, paid for by the NRA thanks to financial arrangements validated by internal allies. According to the New York prosecutor, they have contributed to losses of around $ 64 million in three years.
The aura of the NRA has also suffered in the face of increasing shootings in the United States. Guns killed more than 43,000 people in the United States in 2020, including suicides, according to the Gun violence archive.
But the Americans remain very attached to their weapons. They have even scrambled to buy more since the start of the pandemic, and even more during the major anti-racist protests of the spring and recent electoral tensions.