NRA seeks to refile lawsuit against New York state, government pushes back

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A lawyer for the National Rifle Association told an appeals court Wednesday the group hopes to refile a lawsuit against New York state, while pleading with the panel of judges to reverse a lower court’s decision to dismiss the case challenging the closure of gun shops during the coronavirus pandemic.  

NRA attorney Philip Furia delivered his arguments to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City, asking that the decision dismissing the lawsuit be reversed “to allow the plaintiff to submit an amended pleading.” The judges will announce their decision at a later date. 

Furia also asked that the NRA have “a chance to replead because the law has changed.”  

In repleading the lawsuit, the NRA will instead seek compensatory damages, Furia said. 

This photo from Wednesday March 7, 2012, shows Illinois gun owners and supporters file NRA applications during an Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day convention in Springfield, Ill.  (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

“What we do want to do is recognize that the law has changed, we should be given an opportunity to go back, regroup and replead,” Furia continued. He later added: “The bottom line here is the NRA and its members were injured, and if a change in the law has rendered declaratory judgment and injunctive relief unavailable, they should be permitted to regroup and reclaim this case.” 

Brian Ginsberg, New York’s assistant solicitor general, pushed back on the NRA’s efforts, noting that the association had not sought compensatory damages in past complaints related to the case.  

“The law has changed, yes. But the retrospective historical fact of whether the NRA and its members did or did not incur compensatory damages has not changed,” Ginsberg told the court. “They could have done that in their initial complaint. They didn’t do it. They could have done it in their first amended complaint. They didn’t … Nor did they attempt … in their proposed second amended complaint.” 

He added: “So this would be the fourth bite at the apple. And that’s … at least two bites too many in this context.” 

In April 2020, the NRA sued New York officials, including now-disgraced Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for declaring gun stores in the state “nonessential” and in effect limiting residents’ access to guns and ammunition amid the state’s COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, court papers from the initial lawsuit stated. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference before the opening of a mass COVID-19 vaccination site in the Queens borough of New York, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)

In doing so, the state “effectively and indefinitely suspended a key component of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution – shutting down all gun stores in the State of New York, including federally licensed gun stores, by deeming them ‘non-essential,’” the suit states.  

The lawsuit is separate from New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ efforts to dissolve the NRA. 

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