Guns are on display in a shop on June 17, 2016 in Lake Barrington, Illinois.
Scott Olson | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – The National Rifle Association filed for bankruptcy on Friday as part of a restructuring plan aimed at moving the influential gun rights group to Texas.
The filing comes six months after the New York State Attorney General filed a lawsuit to disband the NRA for alleged embezzlement of funds.
The advocacy group said it would be restructuring as a not-for-profit organization in Texas to get out of what it has been called “the corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York” in which it is currently registered
The NRA, which said it was not financially broke, applied for Chapter 11 protection in the US bankruptcy court in Dallas.
In its filing, the group stated that it had assets between $ 100 million and $ 500 million and liabilities in the same dollar range.
The NRB’s largest unsecured creditor was former advertising agency Ackerman McQueen, owed $ 1.27 million, according to the filing. The weapons group and the advertising company have filed lawsuits against each other.
“The plan can be summed up very simply: We’re DUMPING New York and pursuing plans to reintegrate the NRA in Texas,” wrote Wayne LaPierre, CEO and Executive Vice President of the NRA, in a statement on Friday announcing the filing.
He added that “no significant changes to the operations or workforce of the NRA are expected”.
LaPierre also said the NRA was not insolvent and moving to Texas would strengthen the organization. “We are financially as strong as we have been in years,” he said.
He added that the organization currently has no plans to move the NRA headquarters from Fairfax, Virginia.
The NRA said it expected bankruptcy within six months and said in a letter to its sellers that it would “propose a plan that will see full payment of all valid claims from creditors”.
“The NRA will be moving through the restructuring process quickly. Its day-to-day operations, training programs and advocacy for the second change will continue as usual, which means that the NRA will continue to rely on the service of its valued suppliers,” the letter said.
New York attorney general Letitia James said in a statement that the state would review the NRA filing but added: “We will not allow the NRA to use this or any other tactic to evade accountability and oversight from my office . “
“The NRA’s claimed financial status has finally reached its moral status: bankrupt,” she added.
James’ lawsuit accuses the NRA leadership of diverting millions for their personal use, resulting in a loss of $ 64 million to the organization.
Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President and CEO of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Lucas Jackson | Reuters
Gun safety organizations described the NRA’s decision to file for bankruptcy as a “desperate maneuver”.
“Let’s be clear what’s going on here: The NRA, which is losing power and money is bleeding, is now filing for bankruptcy to avoid legal debt for years of financial mismanagement and proprietary trafficking,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety wrote in a statement Friday.
“This desperate maneuver is a de facto admission of guilt,” he added.
Similarly, Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, said the NRA could try “to run away from its years of deception, decadence and proprietary trading, but it cannot hide”.
“The NRA has grown into a front group for arms manufacturers and a personal piggy bank for its leadership – while putting millions of lives at risk. They have been out of touch with the American people for decades, and now they’re out of money.” too, “said Watts.
New York Attorney General Letitia James
Lucas Jackson | Reuters
In a statement last August when it attempted to disband the group, AG James said: “The influence of the NRA has been so strong that the organization has remained uncontrolled for decades while top executives put millions in their own pockets.
“The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why we are trying to disband the NRA today because no organization is above the law,” she added at the time.
James is asking a court to dissolve the NRA and seek full refunds from each of the current and former executives named in the lawsuit.
Continue reading: New York AG seeks to disband the NRA in a lawsuit accusing the leaders of self-trafficking and causing losses of $ 64 million
Carolyn Meadows, president of the NRA, said in a statement at the time of filing that the lawsuit is “an unfounded, deliberate attack on our organization and the freedoms of the second amendment that she is fighting to defend”.
The suit is another step in a long-running battle between New York and the gun rights group that has been chartered in the state since 1871.
CNBC’s Tucker Higgins contributed to this report from New York. Dan Mangan reports from New York.