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Gov. Cuomo escalates legal fight with NRA

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) responds to the National Rifle Association's assertion that the state's legal fight to bar the group from doing business with banks and insurers is a discriminatory campaign.

Posted: Aug 7, 2018 6:22 AM
Updated: Aug 7, 2018 6:28 AM

In a lawsuit against Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state of New York, the National Rifle Association says it will have to close its headquarters, shut down its online media presence and stop holding rallies and conventions if it is stymied by the state from doing business with banks and insurers:

Cuomo's response: "Too bad."

The Democrat told CNN's "New Day" on Monday that the NRA is suing him because the gun-rights organization is upset about lost revenue.

"Too bad. You violated the law, and it's not a defense to say, 'Well, I was committing illegal activity, but I was making money from it, and now I'm upset that I lost the revenue,'" he told CNN's John Berman.

The NRA filed the suit after Cuomo took action against the sale of "Carry Guard," a program that provides liability insurance for policyholders involved in shooting incidents.

In Cuomo's words, Carry Guard is "designed for people who carry weapons, and the insurance policy essentially insured them for intentional bad acts, intentional wrongdoing."

The NRA suit — filed against Cuomo, the state Department of Financial Services and DFS Superintendent Maria Vullo in May and amended in July — says Cuomo is trying illegally to coerce financial companies into not doing business with the group.

But states have the power to regulate insurance law, and Cuomo says New York is "working with the other states" to make sure the sale of the Carry Guard program ends around the country.

"It would be highly unusual for a state to allow an insurance company to reimburse for an illegal activity. They call it 'murder insurance,'" the two-term governor said.

Cuomo sent a letter Monday to other state governors, urging them to end the sale and marketing of the NRA's Carry Guard program in their states.

"New York is standing up to the gun lobby to protect the lives and liberty of our citizens. But we cannot do it alone and our laws are only as strong as the ones in the states surrounding us," he wrote.

To allegations that he has been a longtime political opponent of the NRA, Cuomo — who is up for reelection in the fall — responded on CNN, "I plead guilty."

"I believe the NRA represents an extremist group. I believe they've been counterproductive for gun owners in this country. I believe their politics suits them to stop any common-sense gun reform," he continued.

"The NRA has always been against any progress whatsoever. They are oblivious to the facts. They've caused carnage in this nation," he added.

Cuomo, older brother of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, insists "common-sense gun reform" will not harm responsible gun owners.

"Legal gun owners in New York still have their guns, and hunters still hunt, and it shows it is possible," Cuomo said. "And the NRA hates that message because they are against any reasonable conclusion."

The NRA alleges in its claim that it has incurred tens of millions of dollars in damages because of the defendants' actions. It says that the organization's access to banking services are "imperiled."

The suit contends that what the state has done "prevents, or at a minimum, chills," the First Amendment rights of the NRA and its members to free speech -- including their right to speak freely about gun-related issues.

The suit alleges this amounts to a "blacklisting campaign (that) will continue to damage the NRA and its members" if the court doesn't act.

Cuomo says the state has filed a motion to dismiss the case. A hearing is scheduled for September 10.

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