The New York attorney general’s lawsuit against the National Rifle Association is not a mere “witch hunt,” a New York judge ruled Friday in dismissing claims by the gun rights advocacy group that the case It is a political vendetta. Manhattan Judge Joel M. Cohen’s decision means the nearly two-year legal fight can continue.

The ruling comes after last month’s mass shootings in New York and Texas reignited debate over US gun policy and refocused attention on the NRA.

The New York case began when James, a Democrat, filed a lawsuit accusing some top NRA executives of financial improprieties and sought to disband the group. The attorney general’s job includes overseeing nonprofit organizations incorporated in New York, where the NRA was incorporated in 1871.

In March, Cohen rejected James’s attempt to shut down the NRA. But the judge let the case go forward, with the possibility of fines or other remedies if the attorney general prevails. The NRA accused James in a court filing last year of waging “a blatant and malicious campaign of retaliation” because of his views. The group tried to stop the lawsuit.

Cohen rejected those arguments.

“The narrative that the attorney general’s investigation into these undeniably serious matters was nothing more than a politically motivated and unconstitutional witch hunt is simply not supported by the record,” he wrote, noting that the investigation was prompted by reports of misconduct. and “discovered additional evidence.”

James applauded the decision, saying it confirms the “legitimacy and feasibility” of the lawsuit.

“Our fight for transparency and accountability will continue,” he said in a statement.

NRA attorney William A. Brewer III said the group was disappointed but would continue to fight the case and still believes it was unfairly targeted.

“The NRA believes that the search for the NYAG was prompted by its opposition to the association and its First Amendment activities in support of the Second Amendment,” it said in a statement, using an abbreviation of the attorney general’s title. In the wake of the recent shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, Congress is under renewed pressure to respond after years of partisan gridlock over gun legislation.

The House has passed bills that would raise the age limit for buying semi-automatic weapons and establish federal “red flag” laws, which allow guns to be taken from people who are at extreme risk of harming themselves or others. Such initiatives have traditionally failed in the Senate.

Democratic and Republican senators have been talking about a framework to address the problem, but no agreement has been announced. The NRA, a longtime political force that has lost some clout amid financial scandals in recent years, has long insisted that mass shootings are not a reason to limit access to guns, arguing that the solution is for law-abiding people to have firearms to defend themselves. themselves and others.

The message was echoed at the group’s convention in Houston last month, days after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde.

Rallies calling for significant changes to gun laws are planned in Washington and across the country this weekend and are expected to draw tens of thousands of people. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is also caught up in the national tug-of-war over America’s place of arms. Judges are soon expected to issue their biggest weapons ruling in more than a decade, which could make it easier to be armed on the streets of New York and other big cities.

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